Jews Start Passover with Prayers for Peace; Seders in Viet Nam
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Jews Start Passover with Prayers for Peace; Seders in Viet Nam

Jews throughout the free world started the observance of Passover tonight with the fate of the Jews in the Soviet Union uppermost in their minds, and with the hope that peace will come to Israel and to the world. A special matzoh, designated as "Matzoh of Hope," was set aside at the Seder in thousands of homes in the United States and Israel, symbolizing "the indestructible link" that exists between world Jewry and the Jews in the USSR.

In Viet Nam, Seder ceremonies were held for Jewish servicemen arranged under the auspices of the National Jewish Welfare Board. Services were also conducted by Jewish chaplains for American men in uniform in Thailand and numerous American military bases abroad. Passover supplies had been furnished by the JWB to Jews on aircraft carriers, on naval installations and at Veterans Administration hospitals. B’nai B’rith also supplied Passover food parcels, called "Solo Seders," to 5,000 Jewish servicemen stationed in Viet Nam.

The Joint Distribution Committee announced, in a report by its executive vice-chairman, Charles H. Jordan, that it had sent 545,325 pounds of matzoh and other Passover foods to needy Jews in some 10 European countries. Included among the shipments to Jewish communities in Eastern Europe, France, Albania, Belgium, Greece, Italy, Spain, Spanish Morocco and elsewhere were Passover wines. Special supplies were also sent by JDC to aid needy Jews in their Passover observances in Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Iran. The JDC supplied equipment for matzoh baking to religious Jewish communities in Poland, where matzoh baking was permitted by the Warsaw Government, and gave special grants to needy Jews in Poland.

The American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry, under the chairmanship of Rabbi Israel Miller, distributed more than 1,000,000 copies of a special prayer, which called attention to the situation of Russias’s Jews. The prayer recalled the fact that the Jews of the USSR "can only sit in silence," denied their traditional links with their religion, languages and right to teach Judaism. The Conference represents 25 national, American, Jewish organizations.


Morris B. Abram, president of the American Jewish Committee, called attention in a Passover statement to the promise made in Paris last December by Soviet Premier Alexei N. Kosygin, who had pledged that USSR Jews would be permitted to rejoin their families in other countries. He called on the USSR to implement that promise, pointing out that many local Soviet authorities were blocking many visa applications, "thus preventing the deed from following the promise." Mr. Abram, who is also the United States Government representative on the United Nations Human Rights Commission, protested simultaneously against other anti-Jewish discriminations now practiced or condoned by the Soviet Government.

Louis J. Fox, of Baltimore, president of the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds, pointed out in his message that Passover, the holiday which commemorates the liberation of the ancient Israelis from slavery, "rekindles the Jewish mission to seek an end to injustice wherever it exists, whether in our own country or in other parts of the world." He noted that federations and Jewish welfare funds are now engaged "to free Jews and other Americans from the enslavement and degradation of poverty and discrimination, and to help attain dignity, self-sufficiency and justice."

Max M. Fisher, of Detroit, general chairman of the United Jewish Appeal, expressed confidence that the Jews of this country will, through the UJA’s nationwide, $75,620,000 campaign, help provide freedom for many Jews throughout the world, including those who have been brought from many "Egypts" to "the threshold of a new life in Israel." "Passover," he noted, "is Judaism’s testament to the great principle of human freedom, as in our own country, for whom the retelling of the ancient Seder tale of liberation will hold any real meaning." He voiced an eloquent plea for aid to the immigrant absorption programs being carried on Israel.

A call for aid to the "building of freedom of Israel," was issued by Abraham A. Feinberg, president of the Israel Bond Organization. He urged American Jewry to help, in the spirit of Passover, to develop in Israel "a strong economy as the pedestal of her freedom." He noted the success of the Israel Bond campaigns since 1951, and the fact that, in 1966, the bond campaign had sold $880 million in bonds as compared to $70 million in 1951.


Passover messages calling attention to the fact that the Festival for Freedom emphasizes the Jewish people’s age-long quest for freedom, liberty and peace, were issued among others by Rabbi Arthur J. Lelyveld, president of the American Jewish Congress; Rabbi Pesach Levovitz, president of the Rabbinical Council of America, an Orthodox organization; and Rabbi Edward T. Sandrow, president of the New York Board of Rabbis. Rabbi Lelyveld, who has spoken out previously for an end to the Viet Nam war, called on the United States Government to end bombings of North Viet Nam and urged North Viet Nam and the National Liberation Front in South Viet Nam to respond to such initiative by entering negotiations leading toward a final peace.

On behalf of Hadassah, the women’s Zionist organization of America, Mrs. Charlotte Jacobson, Hadassah president, pledged Hadassah’s "continued efforts to aid in the promotion of the welfare and the well-being of the people of Israel and to bring to world attention the plight of Soviet Jewry." Statements in the same vein were issued by Rabbi Eli Bohnen, president of the Rabbinical Assembly, the international association of the Conservative rabbinate; and Rabbi Joseph Karasick, president of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.

A message in Hebrew, with English translation, was issued by Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, calling upon the Jewish people to rededicate themselves to Judaism during the season of Passover.

Carlos L. Israels, president of United Hias Service, the world-wide Jewish migration agency, said that "on Passover, when we commemorate the biblical exodus from Egypt, we rededicate ourselves to the age-old Jewish tradition of survival through migration." He pointed out that, since its inception, 83 years ago, the agency and its predecessor organizations had assisted more than 3,000,000 refugees and migrants to resettle in the United States and in other free countries.

A group of 100 Catholic and Protestant children joined some 400 Jewish youngsters yesterday in the annual interfaith model seder sponsored by the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue. Rabbi Edward E. Klein, spiritual leader of the congregation, explained the meaning of the various symbols and rites. The traditional four questions were asked by some of the Christian guests with children of the Stephen Wise Synagogue supplying the answers in the Haggadah.

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