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Non-admission of U.S. Jews to Jordan Affects ‘adoption’ of Bethlehem

A plan proposed by the Mayor of Burlingame that the California town “adopt” Bethlehem, Jordan as a “sister city” because of its Christian significance was disclosed today to have been postponed after a Burlingame rabbi and members of his congregation vigorously opposed the idea because American Jews are not admitted to Jordan.

The Burlingame City Council decided to take no action on the proposal until it learned more about such projects in seminars to be held during the meeting here this fall of California municipalities. Burlingame is a town of 20,000 just south of San Francisco.

The idea was suggested by Mayor Andrew Byrd after he became acquainted with Ayoub Mussalam, Mayor of Bethlehem, when both attended a recent international conference in Washington, D. C. The Bethlehem mayor subsequently visited Burlingame to push the proposal.

Among those protesting the idea was Rabbi Gerald Raiskin of the Peninsula Temple Sholom, who twide preached against it in sermons at his synagogue. He and members of his congregation presented documentary evidence to the city council that American citizens of the Jewish faith were not permitted to enter Jordan. A letter from the American Express office in San Francisco also was cited saying that the agency could not process for travel in Jordan anyone of the Jewish faith.

Rabbi Raiskin suggested that if the town insisted on adopting a Middle East city, it should perhaps choose Nazareth, in Israel, asserting that Jesus Christ was better identified with Nazareth than with Bethlehem. “We may want Nazareth and it sounds good,” one council member commented, “but how do we know Nazareth wants us?”

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