LONG BEACH, N. Y. (Nov. 14)
An appeal to the Soviet Government to permit a “representative, cross-sectional body of American Jewish leaders to conduct a free, unfettered and uninhibited fact-finding study of the status, welfare and general conditions of the Jewish citizens of the USSR” was voiced here last night by Rabbi Mordecai Kirshblum, president of the Religious Zionists of America.
Addressing the opening session of the organization’s 54th annual convention here, Rabbi Kirshblum noted that there have been many reports of anti-Semitic practices in the USSR, and that Soviet authorities have denied these “accusations of religious and cultural genocide.” Only a fact-finding group, spending a month in the Soviet Union without hindrance, he said, could report “on the current situation regarding Russian Jewry objectively and reliably.”
Rabbi Kirshblum also condemned recent demonstrations held by Jewish religious zealots in front of the Israeli Consulate in New York. Such demonstrations, he said, were “shameful.” He called on all Israelis to resolve religious conflicts peacefully, and to call on their Government “to elevate religious tenets in the running of the State.” But such requests, he insisted, “must be made within the framework of responsible and enlightened procedures for the attainment of desired religious goals. Violence can only lead to disaster and shame for all parties concerned.”
ISRAELI MINISTER ADDRESSES U.S. RELIGIOUS ZIONIST CONVENTION
Yitzhak Raphael, Israel’s Deputy Minister of Health, advocated today before 800 delegates to the 54th annual convention of the Religious Zionists of America “the setting up of a central rabbinic body with binding jurisdiction to resolve all the religious-law complications and ramifications which have flown from Israel’s rapid growth and accelerated mode of economic and social operations.”
“This body would be accepted and recognized by the Government of Israel and all Jewish communities throughout the civilized world,” he said. “This authoritative council would be able to give rulings and advice on all crucial legal and religious questions which confront Jewry in its attempt to preserve the fundamental tenets of Judaism.”
He also said that the “existence of such a central body could have prevented the recent outbreaks of violence and extremism which have compromised the position of honor, trust and respect that Israel has enjoyed in the family of nations. Since there is no organized rabbinic body with mandatory power to help alleviate and overcome the controversies which characterize the relations between the religious and non-religious elements in Israel and elsewhere, a veritable vacuum exists which can only bring about undesirable conflict and harm to all Jewish communities.”