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World’s Largest Jewish Organization To Allow Women Members

September 2, 1990

DALLAS (AP) _ The world’s largest Jewish organization, B’nai Brith International, is setting aside its 147-year history as a predominantly male group and will allow women as full members.

Leaders of B’nai Brith and B’nai Brith Women this week reached an agreement that recognizes B’nai B’rith Women as an independent, self-governing organization affiliated with B’nai B’rith.

Delegates to the B’nai B’rith biennial convention gathered in Dallas last week. As B’nai B’rith moved in recent years toward admitting women, the future of the separate women’s organization has been hotly debated.

The agreement defines B’nai B’rith Women as a women’s organization and B’nai B’rith as an organization for both men and women. The agreement can be renegotiated after five years.

The measure admitting women as full members to B’nai B’rith passed unanimously Tuesday at the convention. Previously, there were individual units of the organization that allowed women members.

With the change, about 10,000 new women members to B’nai B’rith are expected.

″We have indeed preserved what we did not want to tear asunder,″ said B’nai B’rith Women president Harriet Horowitz.

″This agreement ends a complicated and tense time in the history of our organizations,″ Ms. Horowitz said. ″It ends a situation that has divided families and created much adverse publicity.″

Retiring B’nai B’rith president Seymour Reich favored admitting the women’s group as a full equal.

The agreement must be ratified by the B’nai B’rith Women Delegates Assembly. Mail-in ballots are due by Oct. 15.

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