Dr. Goldmann Pleads for Cultural, Communal Rights for Soviet Jewry

A plea for the granting of basic cultural and communal rights to Jews of the Soviet Union, and the right to emigrate freely to Israel, was voiced here tonight by Dr. Nahum Goldmann, president of the Jewish Agency, addressing the opening session of the five-day convention of the Religious Zionists of America, which is composed of the Mizrachi and Hapoel Hamizrachi groups in this country. The convention is attended by more than 800 delegates from all parts of the United States and Canada.

Pointing out that Soviet Jewry is today the largest segment of European Jewry, Dr. Goldmann said that the Jews of the Soviet Union must be helped “to again lead a life of Jewish dignity, respect and fulfillment. “He indicated that” our generation is faced with three monumental problems which cry out for our searching, probing and resolving.

“These problems,” Dr. Goldmann continued, “may be categorized as: 1. The improvement of cultural and political conditions for the 2,500,000 Jews in Russia; 2. The prevention of Jewish disintegration and assimilation, especially the younger generation; and 3. The establishment of firmer bonds between Israel and American Jewry based on the principle of mutual reciprocity and equality.”

Dr. Goldmann held that “Russian Jewry is suffering primarily from a denial of basic communal, religious and political rights. It is not essentially a matter of anti-Semitism or physical persecution, “he said. “The Russian Government should allow its Jewish inhabitants to emigrate to Israel if they show a preference for such emigration. The Jewish communities throughout the world should exert their utmost efforts to persuade the ruling authorities of the Soviet Union to extend the fundamental guarantees of unfettered religion cultural liberty to all their Jewish citizens.”

STRESSES NEED TO PREVENT MASS ASSIMILATION AMONG JEWISH YOUTH

“The prevention of mass assimilation and disintegration, especially among Jewish youth, constitutes the central problem facing the Jewish communities in the free world,” Dr. Goldmann emphasized. “This danger is not rooted in any manifestation of physical anti-Semitism. It is rather a dilemma which flows from apathy, thoughtfulness, lassitude and a sense of personal insecurity. In order to stem this drift toward a disturbed metabolism. In the culture and life of world Jewry, we must renew our dedication to the supreme values of Jewish education.

“Philanthropy, charity and welfare undertakings are significant as instrumentalities and means in the struggle for Jewish survival, but cannot be held up as the goals we seek to attain. These philanthropic endeavors must not eclipse the educational efforts toward the development, enrichment and regeneration of our historic way of living. Jewish education must again be placed in a preferred position as the most vital discipline with which to inhibit assimilatory trends and threats to our patterns of creative Jewish existence.”

Dr. Goldmann asserted that “the status of Israel in contemporary life is closely related to the problem of securing Jewish survival in a distraught world. Israel must fill the void in Jewish spiritual and secular values obtaining as a result of the destruction of flowering Jewish centers in Central and Eastern Europe during World War II.

“During the second decade of Israel’s existence, the Jewish people throughout the world will have to make greater efforts to help Israel solve her tremendous political, economic and social problems,” the Zionist leader said. “But Israel will be expected to contribute a major share of the spiritual and cultural sustenance which Diaspora communities will require. This interaction presupposes the evolving of dynamic statesmanship and gifted leadership in both Israel and the United States to bring about the techniques, methods and patterns which a sound mutual relationship demands,” Dr. Goldmann concluded.

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