Israel Celebrates Jewish Tercentenary; Eisenhower Sends Message
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Israel Celebrates Jewish Tercentenary; Eisenhower Sends Message

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President Eisenhower called on the people of Israel to join the American people in defending the freedoms and values held jointly by both peoples against all forces which contemplate the destruction of these values.

The call was contained in a message from the President to a celebration at ZOA House here last night marking the opening of the American Jewish Tercentenary. The message, read by Francis Russell, American Charge d’Affaires, declared:

“My confident hope is that the celebration, stressing as it does the theme of man’s opportunities and responsibilities under freedom, will re-emphasize those historic values to which both our countries are dedicated: Our responsibility as members of the community of free nations, to defend these values against all who would destroy them, our opportunity in this turbulent world to build upon them anew as a foundation for peace throughout the world.”

The several thousand persons gathered at the celebration in ZOA House also heard a message from President Ben Zvi of Israel declare that American Jewry can be proud of its “great past and brilliant achievements.” Noting that Israel still faces difficulties, the President said that American Jewry’s assistance in the absorption of new immigrants in Israel is the “greatest historic task remaining for American Jewry.” He underlined Israel’s dependence on the support of the American Jewish community.


Earlier in the evening, on a nationwide radio hook-up, Mr. Ben Zvi traced the history of American Jewry from the handful of fugitives from the Inquisition, who reached New Amsterdam on the shores of a new world on which they laid the foundations of what is “today the greatest Jewish community in the world, and first among the communities of the Diaspora.”

Listing the “proud achievements” of the American Jewish community–the network of synagogues, schools, welfare and other organizations spread throughout the country–President Ben Zvi stressed that “the Jews of the United States have not only done much for themselves and for the great and fortunate state in which they live and fulfill their civic duties, but they have played a part in striving to save the Jews of Europe at a time of persecution and destruction.

“They have made a contribution to the establishment and consolidation of the State of Israel and the in-gathering of our scattered people within it, which will be eternally recorded in our history as the supreme expression of their love of Israel and the unity of our people,” Mr. Ben Zvi added. He said that while American Jews were “proud citizens of their own land and devoted to its welfare, they continue at the same time to be mindful and deeply concerned with the future of the State of Israel, the strengthening of the state and the in-gathering of the exiles.”

This duty, unlike any borne by any previous generation, has been “imposed by a Divine Providence” on this “great Jewish community of American Jewry,” he continued. He also expressed the hope that the younger generation of American Jews would follow in the footsteps of the present generation. In conclusion, he noted that the series of events planned in Israel in the coming months to mark the American Jewish Tercentenary would be an “expression of brotherhood” between Israel and American Jews.

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