This past year we were told that it was Agudath Israel of America’s 93rd convention.
This would mean that the first Agudath Israel of America convention was in 1923 (as we are speaking about annual conventions). How is this possible if Agudath Israel in America was not formed until 1939 and its first convention was held on July 9-11, 1939? See here for a 1950 news report which speaks of the 28th annual convention. This would mean that the first convention was indeed in 1923. Yet see here for a 1947 news report that speaks of Agudah’s 9th annual convention. This would mean that the first convention was in 1939, which is indeed correct. In years prior to 1947 the reports of the Agudah conventions also give 1939 as the year of the first convention.
So what happened between 1947 and 1950 and how did the Agudah start portraying itself as having conventions before Agudath Israel of America even existed? Rabbi Moshe Kolodny, the Agudah archivist, informed me that the 93rd year is a commemoration of the founding of the American branch of the World Agudat Israel on July 20, 1921. (As already mentioned, Agudah Israel of America was itself not founded until 1939). The problem with this explanation is that the 2015 convention should then be the 95th convention, not the 93rd. This is quite apart from the fact that I don’t understand how the Agudah can speak of 93 conventions when until 1939 there weren’t any annual conventions for Agudath Israel of America.
1923 as a year is significant in Agudah history, as it is the year when the first World Agudath Israel convention took place in Vienna. This is the convention from which we have the recently discovered video of the Chafetz Chaim. What I think happened is that between 1947 and 1950 some Agudah functionary decided that the annual Agudath Israel of America convention should be tied to 1923, and that is why this year’s convention was called the 93rd convention. The problem with this is, as mentioned, not only that Agudah Israel of America has not had 93 conventions, but that even if you date the conventions to 1923, you still don’t get 93 conventions. I say this because while the first world Agudah convention was held in 1923, this was not a yearly event. The next world convention was not held until 1929.
Marc B. Shapiro, “Open Orthodoxy and Its Main Critic, part 1”, The Seforim Blog (8 February 2016) [http://seforim.blogspot.com/2016/02/open-orthodoxy-and-its-main-critic-part.html]