July ’17 in the Exponent: Jewish Organizations Meet With Future President


While World War I raged across Europe, the Conference of Representatives of National Jewish Organizations met in Washington, D.C. on July 17, 1917 to talk about dealing with war-related food shortages.

“There is a shortage of nothing less than 350 millions of bushels of wheat. If the nations of Europe are to survive, if the war is to be brought to a successful termination, this problem of conservation is imperative and must command our serious consideration,” the article in the July 27, 1917 Jewish Exponent reported.

The conference was arranged by a bureaucrat with the title of United States Food Administrator. Twelve years later, he’d gain fame (and infamy, due to the start of the Great Depression) as President Herbert Hoover.

At the conference, Hoover pleaded with those present — including, among others, representatives of the Federation of American Zionists, the American Union of Roumanian Jews, Independent Order B’nai B’rith, the Young Men’s Hebrew Association and the Intercollegiate Menorah Association — to encourage conservation by their members.

“Now conservation is in fact a matter of petty detail; the direction by which wastes are to be eliminated and by which savings are to be made, must be reduced to actual tangible terms that are understandable in every kitchen in the United States,” Hoover said.

Conference members unanimously approved a resolution allowing Hoover to appoint a chairman of a Committee on Food Conservation in each national Jewish organization.


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