Kraft, Louis

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KRAFT, LOUIS (1891–1975), U.S. social worker. Kraft, who was born in Moscow, Russia, was educated in New York. From 1914 to 1917 he served as executive director of the Bronx ym & ywha. He served as executive director of the *National Jewish Welfare Board (1917–20) and consultant on community organization in Europe for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany. As secretary of the World Federation of ymhas and Jewish Community Centers, he established the ym & ywha in Jerusalem in 1948. Kraft was president of the National Conference of Jewish Communal Service (1943) and honorary president of the National Association of Jewish Center Workers (1947). A founder of the United Service Organizations (uso), he was on its executive committee in World War ii. From 1961 until 1974, Kraft served as voluntary executive secretary of the Association of Jewish Center Workers.

Kraft wrote Century of the Jewish Community Center Movement (18541954) (1953); Social Agency Administration (1967); and The Development of the Jewish Community Center (1968); he co-authored Change and Challenge: A History of 50 Years of jwb (1966) and edited, with C.S. Bernheimer, Aspects of the Jewish Community Center (1954). Recognized as "the architect of the Jewish community center movement," he received many academic and professional honors.

In 2002, the World Confederation of Jewish Community Centers established the Louis Kraft Memorial Lecture and the Louis Kraft Maor Award, given to exemplary Jewish community centers in the former Soviet Union.

[Philip Goodman /

Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]