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Rabbinical Assembly Deplores ‘competitive Efforts’ to Aid Soviet Jews

An end to the “chaotic, conflicting and competitive efforts” on the part of American Jewish organizations concerning the Jews in the Soviet Union, and an attempt to make contact with them strictly on a religious basis, is asked in a statement issued today by the Rabbinical Assembly, central body of Conservative rabbis.

“It is shocking how every national Jewish organization acts on its own, issuing pronouncements sometimes contradicting one another, confusing everyone and helping no one,” Rabbi Edward Sandrow, president of the Assembly, said. He drew attention to a call he made during last year’s convention of the Rabbinical Assembly requesting the Soviet Government to permit the establishment of formal fraternal relationships between Jewish religious communities in Russia and similar communities in other countries, similar to the relationships which have been recently established between some of the Christian churches in Russia and the World Council of Churches.

The statement of the Rabbinical Assembly urged that the American Jewish religious community request the Russian Government to invite an official delegation “representing the Synagogue Council of America to meet with the religious leaders of the Russian Jewish community, paralleling the several visits by leaders of the National Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches with their Christian counterparts in the Soviet Union.” The Synagogue Council is the rabbinical and congregational organization of the Orthodox, Conservative and Reform movements in America.

Rabbi Sandrow suggested that the Synagogue Council of America take the initiative; that it invite representatives of all major Jewish organizations who are concerned with the Russian Jewish community to meet informally, and without fanfare, “to discuss on a regular basis all developments and incidents affecting the Russian Jewish community, and what would be best to do, or refrain from doing, under the circumstances.”

He said he was not ready to enter into the controversy whether public protests are helpful to the Russian Jewish community; his own opinion is that they are not. But this has nothing to do with his thesis, he said–that “we ought to make a concerted effort to establish more communication between world Jewry and the Russian Jews on the basis of our common religious traditions. The public outcries have not done this so far; perhaps this other way might turn the trick. There is precedent for it in the recent contacts between the Christian communities. Perhaps there also can be between us and our brothers in the Soviet Union.”

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