JERUSALEM (Jun. 14)
Closing a three-day “dialogue” between American Jewry and Israelis, Dr. Joachim Prinz, president of the American Jewish Congress, declared at the concluding session tonight that, in his opinion, “a new chapter” has been opened at this conference between American Jewry and Israel. “We came here to destroy false images and do away with fallacies, and establish what we consider to be the real image of American Jewry,” he told the 500 Americans at the conference.
Theodore Kolleck, director-general of Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion’s office, emphasized the value of the “dialogue” by telling the conference, just before it closed, that “understanding between world Jewry and Israel is rapidly becoming one of Israel’s central problems.”
Other speakers at the concluding session denied that American Jewry faced obliteration through assimilation, stressed the right of Jews outside Israel to influence Israeli decisions, and insisted that American Jewry was just entering “a golden age of Jewishness.” They held that Israeli creativeness is not greater than the creativeness of American Jewry which has proven that it grow and develop in the free American society.
Prime Minister Ben-Gurion had predicted, in his major address to the conference last night, that differences between American Jewry and Israeli Jewry would grow as Israel advanced to cultural and economic independence. He pointed out that such a development would make more difficult the problem of relations between Jews inside and outside of Israel.
Mr. Ben-Gurion said there was the possibility of difficulties for American Jews when the United States developed into a unitary society, which he foresaw within 15 to 20 years. He did not think that this would necessarily endanger American Jews, but that it did raise questions. He expressed doubt whether the group status of American Jewry would enable it to withstand the pressures of assimilation.
URGES DEEPENING OF JEWISH CONSCIOUSNESS, STRESSED HEBREW EDUCATION
He stressed the need to deepen Jewish consciousness and urged substantial programs of Hebrew education and closer personal contacts between American Jews and Israel by the sending of youth to Israel to study, and increased participation in Israel’s economic development.
Citing the ideal of Jewish and universal redemption as one of the basic precepts of Judaism, the Prime Minister stressed that Israel could never clash with any country seeking peace and justice or with the Jews of such a country. He also said that in making policy, Israel always kept in mind the interests of other Jewish communities.
Reiterating one of his favorite stands, the Prime Minister remarked that if all Jews were Zionists but had followed the example of Zionist leaders “who are not coming to Israel,” the Jewish State would never have been established. Moreover, he said, the first Jewish settlements were established before there was a world Zionist movement.
The Prime Minister was promptly challenged by Dr. Prinz. Rabbi Prinz urged the Prime Minister and Israelis to discard illusions and “face the reality” that American Jews would not emigrate to Israel and that Hebrew would not become their second language.
He said he agreed with the Prime Minister that Israel was different from all other Jewish communities and that only in Israel could one live a full Jewish life. But, he added, it was urgent that it be understood that Israel’s relations with American Jewry “must be built on the existing realities” of American Jewry’s determination to maintain its Jewishness even if the Jewishness was relegated to only a corner of its existence.
He echoed the Prime Minister’s call for sending American youth to study in Israel and for a major program of cultural and personal interchange between the Jewries of the two countries.