U.N. Publishes Survey of Jewish Thought As Factor in Civilization

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization today released the English edition of a pamphlet entitled “Jewish Thought as a Factor in Civilization, ” the third in a new series of reports giving the position of five major religions on the question of racial discrimination.

The author, Professor Leon Roth, former president of the University of Jerusalem, examines the religious and philosophical tenets which have guided Judaism since the days of Abraham and considers the contribution made by Judaism to the formation of values on which western civilization is based.

He bases his pamphlet on all those elements in Judaism which demonstrate the very negation of racial exclusivism. The unique concept of one God which the Jews gave to the world has as its corollary the brotherhood of man, he points out. In the Jewish tradition, the children of the earth are envisaged as one family; indeed, the name Adam, in Hebrew, means man. According to the ancient rabbis, man was created one, so that no man could say to another, “my father was greater than thine!”

Dr. Roth turns to the Bible and the writings of prophets and scholars for his survey of the basic elements of Jewish thought. Foremost among these concepts he lists the idea of universal and omnipresent law. The Ten Commandments, he continues, summarize all ethical behavior as duty toward God and duty toward man, and comprise religious and social concepts that are universal.

In the Jewish tradition, explains Dr. Roth, lies the origin of many ideas “which have become, in one shape or another, the heritage of Western man: freedom and equality; the duty of education; the all-importance of the moral element in life; morality as rational and universal; life as community; the coupling of love of God and of neighbor; the reality and power of the unseen.”

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