730 Rabbis Rebuke Opponents of Zionism; Stress Need for Jewish Homeland

More than 730 rabbis, including the heads of all the national rabbinical associations and drawn from all sections of religious Jewry in America, yesterday issued a joint pronouncement severely rebuking Jewish opponents of Zionism as dealing a “cruel blow” to the Jewish people. The statement declares that “the defeat of Hitler will not of itself normalize Jewish life in Europe” and points out that after the war “Europe will be so ravaged and war-torn that large masses of Jews will elect migration to Palestine as a solution of their personal problems.”

Prominent among the signatories are Rabbi James G. Heller of Cincinnati, president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis; Rabbi Louis M. Levitsky of Newark, president of the Rabbinical Assembly of America; Rabbi B. L. Levinthal of Philadelphia, member of the praesidium of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis: Rabbi Joseph H. Lookstein of New York, president of the Rabbinical Council of America and Rabbi Israel Goldstein of New York, president of the Synagogue Council of America.

The declaration is a rejoinder to a statement recently made by a group of Reform Rabbis regarded as unfriendly to the Zionist cause. The pronouncement of the 733 Rabbis was released by a group of ministers occupying prominent pulpits in various cities including Rabbis Philip S. Bernstein of Rochester, Barnett R. Brickner of Cleveland. Mordecai M. Kaplan of New York, Israel H. Levinthal of Brooklyn, Joshua Loth Liebman of Boston, Jacob R. Marcus of Cincinnati, Abraham A. Neuman of Philadelphia, Louis I. Newman of New York, David de Sola Pool of New York, Abba Hillel Silver of Cleveland, Milton Steinberg and Stephen S. Wise of New York.

The statement refutes the charge that Zionism is a secularist movement and asserts that “it has its origins and roots in the authoritative religious texts of Judaism” and scores anti-Zionism as “a departure from the Jewish religion.” It defends the political program of the Zionist movement as an indispensable means for assuring large scale Jewish colonization in the Homeland and affirms that “the settlement of a half-million Jews in Palestine since the last war was made possible by political action which culminated in the Balfour Declaration and the Palestine Mandate.” It adds “there can be little hope of opening the doors of Palestine for mass Jewish immigration after the war without effective political action.”

Scouting the idea that the Jews in Palestine should be prevented from ultimately constituting a majority of the population, the rabbinical pronouncement declares that those who are opposing the movement render “a grave disservice” and adds “it may well be that to the degree to which their efforts are at all effective, Jews who might otherwise have found a haven in Palestine will be denied one.” They also state “to the Jews of Palestine facing the gravest danger in their history, and fighting hard to maintain morale and hope in the teeth of the totalitarian menace” anti-Zionist agitation comes as a “cruel blow.”

“Jews, and all non-Jews who are sympathetically interested in the plight of Jewry, should bear in mind that the defeat of Hitler will not of itself normalize Jewish life in Europe,” the statement says. “Following on Allied victory, the Jews of Europe, we are confident, will be restored to their political rights and to equality of citizenship. But they possessed these rights after the last war and yet the past twenty-five years have witnessed a rapid and appalling deterioration in their position. In any case, even after peace is restored, Europe will be so ravaged and war-torn that large masses of Jews will elect migration to Palestine as a solution of their personal problems.”

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