Reform Jews Protest ‘spiritual Genocide’ of Jews in Soviet Union

Jews must unite to save the 3, 000, 000 Soviet Jews from “spiritual genocide” which is “being practiced in the Soviet Union,” the twelfth annual convention of the World Union for Progressive Judaism was told here today. The warning was sounded by Rabbi Richard Hertz of Detroit, reporting on the plight of the Jewish communities behind the Iron Curtain. He said that “our fellow Jews behind the Iron Curtain are in greater danger than were the Jews under the Nazi regime.”

Rabbi Hertz asserted that the Soviet Government was carrying out a calculated program of “spiritual starvation” against Soviet Jewry and that “silence by fear” had resulted in the “withering of Jewish life and spiritual genocide for Jews and Judaism.” Rabbi Hertz made an extended tour of the Soviet Union in 1959 and reported his findings to President Eisenhower.

The delegates then adopted a resolution calling on “all Jews and men of goodwill to use their good offices on behalf of the Jews of the Soviet Union that their institutions and traditions may be perpetuated.”

Mrs. Victor Polstein of Larchmont, N.Y., the World Union’s representative at the United Nations, reported that Russia stifled any mention of Soviet treatment of the Jews in any discussions at the United Nations.

Dr. Nelson Glueck, president of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, told another session about the effect of modern discoveries on Judaism. He traced recent archeological discoveries which he said confirmed the theological changes made by Reform Judaism.

In another resolution, the delegates said they “strongly” protested the “decision” of the Israel rabbinate in its “refusal” to permit marriages of members of Bene Israel, the Jews of India, to members of the Sephardic and Ashkenazic communities in Israel. The delegates asserted that “at this stage of Jewish history, when the broken fragments of our people need a new and stronger sense of brotherhood, the time has come for a more kindly interpretation of legal technicalities and for friendliness to all who offer loyal hearts to the world brotherhood of Israel.”

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