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Orthodox Congregations Oppose Adoption of Separate Religious Flag for American Jewry

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The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, representing all Orthodox synagogues in the United States and Canada, today announced its opposition to the adoption of a separate religious flag for American Jewry as proposed recently by Rabbi Aryeh Lev, director of the Division of Beligious Activities of the National Jewish Welfare Board.

Pointing out that traditional Judaism does not recognize the existence of an American Judaism separate from the “World Community of Israel,” the statement expressed opposition to the adoption of “concepts and symbols which will divide American Jewry from Klal Yisrael, whether they hide behind the Ten Commandments or any other emblem.”

Released by Rabbi Irwin Gordon, national director of community activities of the Union, the statement reviewed Jewry’s history of rarely displaying flags in synagogues. It related the change of this custom by Jewish religious groups which broke away from the Orthodox movement and by the display of the Zionist blue-and-white-flag and the American flag in synagogues during the war.

“With the establishment of the state of Israel and the adoption of the blue-and-white flag as its national ensign, some question has been raised concerning the propriety of further display of the Zionist flag in synagogues and centers,” the statement said. “Using the fear of ‘double loyalty’ as a jumping-off point, certain sectarian groups have asked for the adoption of a new religious flag for American Jewry.

“The spectre of “dual loyalty,” we are convinced, exists primarily in the minds of those who are not loyal to their own Jewish heritage,” it continued. “As observant Jews, we have never found and do not today find any contradiction between our loyalty to our faith, our devotion to our heritage and people and our political loyalty to the land of our birth.

“Traditional Judaism, unlike the sectarian movements, which have broken from it, does not recognize the existence of a sepearate and distinet ‘American’ Judaism. Surely, none of this is sufficient reason for the adoption of new-symbols which will separate American Jewry from Klal Yisrael, the world community of Israel, united by its common allegiance to its Torah,” the statement insisted. Finally, it pointed out that the Union does not object to the use of the chaplain’s flag as a U.S. Army banner to be used on military occasions.

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