Call for Massive U.S. Drive to Aid USSR Jews Issued at Hadassah Parley
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Call for Massive U.S. Drive to Aid USSR Jews Issued at Hadassah Parley

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A massive, all-out drive by American Jewry to obtain action from the United States Government “through diplomatic and other channels to impel the Soviet Union to eradicate anti-Semitism in the USSR and to permit the reunion of Soviet Jews with their broken families in other lands” was proposed before the 50th annual convention of Hadassah here tonight by Dr. Miriam K. Freund, former president of the organization.

In another major address to the 2,000 delegates attending the four-day assembly of the women’s Zionist organization, a stern warning was issued by Dr. David Lieber, president of the University of Judaism in Los Angeles, who held that the trend toward assimilation by American Jews must be reversed, lest “a catastrophe too frightening to contemplate” face the American Jewish community.

Dr. Freund, in her address, expressed the hope that the present thaw in the cold war might give the United States the opportunity to take firm action toward “an acceptable solution to the Jewish problem in the Soviet Union.” Such a solution, she emphasized, must “include the right, on humanitarian grounds, of Soviet Jews who are members of divided families as a result of the Nazi holocaust to be reunited with their relatives abroad.”

As immediate steps, she urged that the Democratic Party’s Platform Committee adopt a plank, at the party’s national convention in Atlantic City next week, “devoted solely to the Jews in the Soviet Union.” That plank, she advocated, should commit the Democratic Party “to press with all the energy at its command for the alleviation of the plight of Soviet Jewry” and the latter’s right to rejoin their broken families abroad. She also urged that the Senate pass the pending resolution condemning the treatment of Jews in the USSR. That resolution, introduced by Sen, Abraham A. Ribicoft, Connecticut Democrat, and co-sponsored by 63 other members of the Senate, has the support of 24 other Jewish organizations in addition to Hadassah.

“At this time,” Dr. Freund said, “it is of the utmost importance that President Johnson, the Cabinet and members of the House and Senate be kept continually aware of our anxiety over the oppression of Soviet Jewry. So important is this, that I urge all Americans to express this concern to Washington in the weeks and months ahead. Our concern must be translated into action on the local level, on the state level, on the regional level, on the national and international levels.”


Dr. Lieber, after warning of the potential “catastrophe” that could result from the trend toward assimilation, presented “an agenda for American Jews.” “The hour is ripe,” he said, “for a total assault on Jewish apathy and ignorance, an all-out drive to make Judaism a source of joy and inspiration to the modern Jew.” In order to assure the survival of Jewish identity, Dr. Lieber proposed:

1. A classification and restatement of Jewish purposes, defining what it is that the Jews as a people seek in life; 2. Development of a program of action to strengthen Jewish unity in a society of diversity; 3. Establishment of a system of effective Jewish education–“extended from the cradle to the grave”–and including a network of modern day schools and summer camps to counteract the failure of the home to reinforce the teachings of Judaism; and 4. Rekindling “the love of the Jewish people and its heritage in the heart of the Jew.”

At another session, Mrs. Edward H. Lewis, Hadassah’s national education chairman, announced that Hadassah will sponsor a 22-day “Bible tour of Israel” from March 14 to April 4, 1965. She said that this tour will be limited to 40 Hadassah national regional and local board members and Hadassah education leaders and their husbands. She said the group will spend 18 days in Israel, 11 of which will be devoted to Bible seminars at different Biblical sites. The tour will be programmed in cooperation with the Israel Bible Society and the education department of the Jewish Agency for Israel.


A “reverse peace corps” that would bring Israeli and other foreign volunteers to teach in American schools and participate in the projected job corps was proposed to Hadassah last night by a top official of the U. S. Peace Corps. Harris Wofford, associate director for planning and evaluation of the Peace Corps, made this proposal with reference to President Johnson’s anti-poverty program. He said that America could benefit from skilled youth organizers from Israel.

“To the job corps camps we will be bringing our demoralized young people in the hope that, through such a move into a totally new environment, they can find a new life, “he declared, continuing:

“Who better than Israelis know the difficulties and the possibilities of such an educational experiment.” He said that Israeli social workers could be useful in American community action programs.

Another speaker, Avraham Harman, Israel Ambassador to the United States, told the Hadassah delegates that “the inevitability of peace in the Middle East and throughout the world is the underlying assumption of Israel’s foreign policy.” Ambassador Harman declared: “This is not a goal which can be achieved overnight. While threats persist and her neighbors are against her. Israel must accord priority to her defense needs in her efforts to deter attack. This we are doing and shall continue to do. The hostile policy of assault against Israel has proved unrealistic. When this comes to be understood, the way will be opened to the constructive policy of regional disarmament and mutual cooperation.”

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