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World Congress of Agudath Israel Opens; Laborites Not Attending

The Fourth World Congress of Orthodox Jewry sponsored by Agudath Israel World Organization, opened here today with the participation of 400 delegates from various countries and 7,000 guests. This international conclave is the first such gathering to be held since the establishment of the State of Israel; the last world congress of Agudath Israel took place in 1937 in Marienbad, Czechoslovakia.

Shortly before the opening, the Poale Agudah, laborite wing of the Agudath Israel organization, announced that its leaders will not attend the congress which is known in Hebrew as “Knessio Gedolo.” A decision to this effect was taken by the Poale Agudah at a special national conference held yesterday in Haifa. Instead, the Agudah laborite group issued a call for a world convention of its own to be held next year.

The Foale Agudah party refusal to participate in the world congress of the Agudath Israel was precipitated by the fact that the latter did not want to guarantee to its laborite wing that the world Agudah movement will not attempt to restrict or interfere in any way with its activities on the Israel scene. The Agudah laborites of Israel insisted that they must be left free to make their own decision as to whether to participate in the Israel Government or Parliament of Israel and what kind of activities they shall sponsor and carry through in Israeli economic, social or political life.

EISENHOWER ASKED TO HELP DELEGATES VISIT WAILING WALL

In a set of resolutions, the Israel Poale Agudah today appealed to religious Jews throughout the world to come to Israel as the only country in which they could live a full life according to the dictates of the Torah; called on world Jewry to protect Israel against all attempts to interfere with the state’s sovereignty; and, urged the government to end conscription of women and to grant the religious movements funds to carry on an independent educational system.

Meanwhile, Rabbi Eliezer Silver, president of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States and Canada, debarking from the plane which brought him here as one of the 115 American delegates to the Agudah world congress, revealed that he had appealed to President Eisenhower to use his influence with the Jordan Government to obtain permission for delegates to the congress to enter Jordan territory and visit the Wailing Wall. Rabbi Silver made his plea to the President prior to flying to Israel.

The 400-odd delegates from all parts of the world will be faced with a number of decisions which have been the subject of intensive discussion and debate within various sections of the movement. Among these are: shall the Agudas Israel organizations in Israel participate in the Parliament and government of Israel, in either one or in neither; shall the organization restrict its activities to purely educational work or shall it conduct practical, political, economic and agricultural activities.

The congress was opened with a eulogy and prayers for the 6,000,000 Jews martyred by the Nazis in Europe. Israel’s Chief Rabbi Dr. Isaac Herzog did not appear personally at the opening session, but sent written greetings. The Chief Rabbi of Moscow, Dr. Shlomo Shleifer, sent a message of greeting to the congress, in reply to an invitation to attend. Similar invitations to leading Orthodox figures in Hungary also brought messages of greetings.

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