ST. LOUIS (Jun. 25)
The racial crisis in the United States has resulted in a slight increase of anti-Semitic literature during the past year but does not represent any new threat to the security or status of the Jews in this country, it was reported here today at the opening session of the five-day convention of the National Community Relations Advisory Council, coordinating body of six national Jewish organizations and 72 Jewish community councils in major American cities.
The report said that “the volume of anti-Semitic literature in circulation and the frequency of anti-Semitic utterances increased somewhat during the past year, chiefly in the general context of the racial confrontation.” It attributed the increase of anti-Jewish propaganda to such organizations as the Klu Klux Klan, extremist right-wing segregationist movements and George Lincoln Rockwell, whose organizations are infiltrated with all types of bigots making the Jew a target.
Gratification was expressed by the NCRAC that the campaigns by hate groups did not receive much attention in the public media. The report said that evidence continues to prove that “anti-Semitic hostility is at an ebb.” It was anticipated that such controversial issues as the proposed Becker Amendment, which would restore prayer in the public schools, and the Broadway production of “The Deputy,” a play critical of the late Pope Pius XII in remaining silent on the persecution of the Jews by the Nazis, might have produced some anti-Jewish utterances.
“Despite the intensity of the controversy that raged over the play, ‘The Deputy,’ it remained virtually free of religious bigotry,” the HCRAC reported today to the convention. “Even bitter controversy over the Becker Amendment, notwithstanding its emotionalism, produced no significant anti-Semitic charges even from quarters where they might have been expected to develop.”
RABBIS DISCUSS JEWISH STAND TOWARD ECUMENICAL COUNCIL
Addressing the convention at its first session today, two rabbis expressed the view that the Catholic attitude towards Jews is a problem of Christian conscience which must be solved by the Church through its deliberations at the Ecumenical Council or by other actions. Rabbi Max Routtenberg, president of the Rabbinical Assembly (Conservative), and Rabbi Shubert Spero, member of the Rabbinical Council of America (Orthodox), expressed the opinion that America’s Jewish community should not press the Vatican for the adoption of the proposed Schema on Jews and religious liberty.
Rabbi Routtenberg said that at this juncture in the proceedings of the Ecumenical Council Jews are “interested spectators and not participants, even though we Jews are deeply affected by the deliberations although we are not directly involved.” He stressed that the adoption of a statement “is something which the Catholic Church will have to work out on its own, resolve its inner tensions and conflicts.”
“We believe it is vital for the Church to achieve this goal, for its own integrity, for its own influence and prestige in the civilized world. It faces the danger of becoming irrelevant, an anachronism, in an age that is seeking to find the links of our common humanity and to forge mankind into a fellowship of love and mutual understanding,” he said.
“If the Church, at its next session, finds it impossible to present a clear, forthright, courageous statement on the ‘Jewish question,’ or on religious liberty, and is compelled to hold on to doctrinal views that perpetuate prejudice and passion and feed the emotional fires of anti-Semitism–that is a matter for the conscience of Christian churchmen,” Rabbi Routtenberg declared.
Rabbi Spero stated that “there can be no doubt that certain teachings of the Catholic Church have for centuries bred and encouraged hostility toward the Jew with utterly destructive consequences for the Jewish community,” adding “should the Church rescind or modify or correct these teachings in a manner which would tend to neutralize the hostility, every person of good will, Jew or non-Jew, would consider it a good and important development.”
Rabbi Routtenberg and Rabbi Spero concurred that failure by the Ecumenical Council to adopt a Schema on the Jews would not bring about a lessening of the desire for dialogue and cooperation between Jew and Catholic. Both religious leaders praised the late Pope John for his initiative in bringing about a new are in interreligious cooperation and understanding. They also lauded him for having laid the foundation which has brought about the entire discussion now being conducted by the Vatican Council.