Jewish New Year Starts Tonight; U.S. Jewry Reminded of Its Obligations
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Jewish New Year Starts Tonight; U.S. Jewry Reminded of Its Obligations

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With the Jewish New Year of 5723 being ushered in at sundown tomorrow, leaders of American Jewish organizations, in their Rosh Hashanah statements today, made somber reappraisals of the position of Jews around the world and emphasized the obligations of American Jews toward Jewish communities in other countries.

In the Soviet Union, 3,000,000 Jews were seen as suffering oppressions, denial of basic religious and cultural freedoms, and a continuing prohibition against reunification with torn families now residing in Israel and elsewhere in the free world.

In France, more than 100,000 Jewish refugees from Algeria were in precarious need not only in regard to religious reassurance but in general problems facing them culturally, socially and economically.

In a number of Latin American countries, a recent resurgence of neo-Nazism and fascism imperiled the position of the many Jews. Increasing anti-Semitic manifestations, engendered by various fascist groups, bespoke uneasiness even to the well-entrenched Jewish community in England.

The American Jewish leaders looked over to Israel, where a new wave of immigration, unprecedented in its dimensions, brought to the Jewish State fresh problems previously unplanned for–problems of absorption and integration, housing and vocational training for the masses of newcomers who have found their refuge but needed more urgently than ever the aid of their people in other lands.


In the spirit of these problems, Joseph Meyerhoff, general chairman of the United Jewish Appeal, declared in a New Year message: “We shall be solemnly observing the High Holy Days, grateful for the substance and spirit of freedom that sustains us all in this great nation. We shall think with sadness of the thousands of our fellow Jews overseas to whom this boon of liberty has been denied, of the all too many among them who are forced to forsake their homes and to seek sanctuary in Israel and other havens where the cause of liberty and humanity is still held sacred.

“We shall not only pray for their safety, security and redemption, but also firmly resolve to do all in our power through the United Jewish Appeal to render greater aid to them than ever before–aid which will save lives, sustain hopes, grant opportunities to immigrate to Israel and other areas of freedom,” the UJA general chairman stressed.

M. M. Warburg, chairman of the Joint Distribution Committee, said that the observance of the High Holy Days must recall “the tens of thousands of Jews who were brought to safety this past year and the hundreds of thousands of other Jews throughout the world who have been helped by American Jewry.” Due to such aid, he noted, tens of thousands will hear the Shofar this year with renewed courage.

“In this season of devotion and prayer we rededicate ourselves to the task of aiding those still in need so that none shall suffer physical or spiritual want,” he continued. “Those in far lands who are still persecuted, those who are hungry and ill, the aged and the underprivileged children–all are in our hearts as we usher in the New Year. We reach out our hand to them so that next year they too will rejoice at the sound of the Shofar and offer prayers of thanksgiving.”


Dewey D. Stone, chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, Inc., highlighted the immigration theme in his New Year message, stating: “During the past year, the rising influx of immigrants to Israel has provided her people together with world Jewry with a continuous challenge to express this concern in constructive action. The thousands of newcomers in Israel who will be able this year, for the first time, to celebrate the High Holy Days freely and Joyously amply testify to the fact that met this challenge at least in substantial measure.

“In a world beset by political tensions, overshadowed by a threat of mass destruction of a magnitude which staggers the imagination, the immigration and rehabilitation programs which are financed with the help of American Jewry through the United Jewish Appeal are a continued affirmation of our faith in the value and dignity of each individual human life,” Mr. Stone pointed out. “In the year ahead, a year which will mark the 25th anniversary of the United Jewish Appeal, this work of rescue and rehabilitation must continue with unflagging vigor.”

Mrs. Rose L. Halprin, chairman of the American section of the executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel, noted “the staggering problems of absorption, retraining, housing and resettlement” facing Israel in consequence of the fresh mass immigration, and said:

“The renewed and accelerated increase in immigration to Israel places on the Jews of the free world, and especially upon American Jewry, the high privilege and obligation of participating in this continuing process of rehabilitation and reconstruction. Only if American Jewry, which has so often demonstrated its splendid devotion to the cause of its brothers overseas, will rise to the challenge placed upon it by history, will Israel be able to meet the new needs of rescue and rehabilitation with the courage, determination and faith befitting our great heritage.”

Mrs. Halprin pointed out, however, that there is a second task: “The need for maintaining and strengthening Jewish life throughout the world by a deepening and expanding of Jewish education. Jewish communities, large and small, have become aware that survival is intertwined with knowledge, and that a concerted effort must be made to restore to the world Jewish community the mark of knowledge which was its characteristic throughout the millennia.”

Abraham Feinberg, president of the Israel Bond Organization, reminded his fellow Jews that Israel, now, “is once again in the limelight as the new home and center of hope for many thousands of immigrants.” Noting that the Bond Organization will start redeeming, in 5723, the 1952 bonds which come to maturity next May, he said that the New Year will, indeed, be a “year of redemption,” highlighting “not only the role of Israel bonds in the great economic advances that Israel has achieved so far, but also the part they must play in the development tasks now on its agenda.”


Irving Kane, president of the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds, pointed out in his Rosh Hashanah message that “the sound of the Shofar calls to rededication, to continue the great, never-to-be completed work” of aiding homeless Jews into Israel and into the United States and other free lands, and of building new institutions of worship, of healing, of learning. “Its call is to strengthen further our Jewish communal life; to extend our networks of spiritual, health, welfare, educational and cultural institutions, which serve each of us and our families here and our people everywhere,” he stressed.

In separate but complementary statements, Samuel Bronfman, vice-president and North American executive chairman of the World Jewish Congress, and Rabbi Joachim Prinz, president of the American Jewish Congress, expressed their determination to continue to meet the challenges facing Judaism, Israel and humanity in general. Mr. Bronfman referred specifically to the recent outbursts of anti-Semitism in Argentina, Germany and Britain, stating these facts “constitute a somber reminder” that there is no place for complete serenity now, three decades after Hitler launched his powerful anti-Semitic drive.

A wide-ranging summation of problems and tensions facing Jewry was made in the special Rosh Hashanah statement by A. M. Sonnabend, president of the American Jewish Committee. He called on Soviet Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev to lift the “harsh, discriminatory and repressive measures” affecting the Jews of the USSR, singled out Argentina as a country where “Jewish security is threatened” by the rise there of anti democratic elements; noted the tragic situation of the Algerian Jewish refugees who have fled to France; reviewed the Middle East situation where “we, as Jews, feel a particular responsibility for the welfare of the people of Israel,” and dealt, with problems in the United States.

On the American scene, Mr. Sonnabend identified the major problems concerning Jewry, upholding again last summer’s Supreme Court ruling against official prayers in the public schools, calling for “protection of civil and religious rights and guarding against the inroads of bigotry” in this country, and requesting that the U.S. Government halt discriminations against American citizens of the Jewish faith by Arab League countries.

Murray I, Gurfein, a president of United Hias Service, referred in his message to Jewish migration, and declared: “The devotion and dedication of the Jewish community to the cause of the migrant has made it possible for our worldwide agency to help more than three million persons resettle in free lands. We look to continued support of our efforts to aid those still unsettled and hard-pressed thousands in danger areas throughout the world, who eagerly turn to us for migration assistance to the United States, Latin America, Canada and Australia.”

Dr. William Haber, president of the American ORT Federation, pointed out that “tens of thousands of Jews are once again uprooted from ancestral homes.” He noted the increased migrations in 1962, and pointed to the emigration of North African Jews, and the flux of newcomers to Israel, where ORT schools “are swamped in numbers for beyond the capacity or financial means.”

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