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American Jewish Committee Opens Four-day Meeting; Slawson Fund Announced

Plans to raise a special fund to be named in honor of Dr. John Slawson in connection with his impending retirement after 24 years as executive vice-president of the American Jewish Committee, were announced here tonight at the 61st annual dinner of the organization which marked the opening of the four-day annual meeting of the AJCommittee. The dinner was dedicated to Dr. Slawson and the fund will be used for research, training and education.

President Johnson, in a message to the 1,200 guests at the dinner, lauded Dr. Slawson as “a man whose gifts of intellect, insight and vision have so greatly benefited all Americans.” The services of Dr. Slawson were similarly lauded by Vice-President Hubert H. Humphrey; Ambassador Arthur J. Goldberg, head of the U.S. Mission to the United Nations; Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller and other leading personalities. Personal tribute to Dr. Slawson was paid by Morris B. Abram, president, and three former presidents of the American Jewish Committee who are now honorary presidents: Judge Joseph M. Proskauer, Jacob Blaustein, and Irving M. Engel. Zachariah Shuster, director of the AJCommittee’s European office, paid tribute to Dr. Slawson in behalf of the Committee’s staff.

Responding to the tributes, Dr. Slawson characterized the interreligious progress of recent years as “a journey from darkness to light.” “Only one lifetime ago,” he said, “when France was reeling under the Dreyfus affair, the churchmen who should have spoken for the Jewish victim remained silent. Again, on the eve of the First World War, a Ukrainian Jew named Mendel Beilis was accused by the Czarist authorities of committing a “ritual blood murder” — and the “Oxford and Cambridge Review,” then the mouthpiece of High Church England, would not take sides and begged off with the words, ‘We do not know where the truth lies.’ Later, when Hitler came to power, the churches failed to take a stand.”

Since the end of World War II, Dr. Slawson continued, “organized religion has put itself squarely among the active forces for human brotherhood — a development that was symbolized for all mankind in that holy man, that zaddik, Pope John XXIII.” Dr. Slawson characterized the declaration of Vatican Council II, passed in 1965, which repudiates the idea that Jews are collectively guilty for the death of Jesus and officially outlaws anti-Semitism in the Catholic Church, as “the fairest fruit of the aggiornamento” — the modernization process that Pope John initiated.

“Nor do we forget,” he added, “that as early as 1961 the World Council of Churches, the leading international Protestant group, had taken a parallel step — affirming that the responsibility for the crucifixion rests with corporate humanity, not with the Jews or any one race or community. Today, Christians’ and Jews’ attitudes toward each other are being totally transformed.”

Mr. Abram, president of the American Jewish Committee, devoted part of his presidential address to the civil rights struggle, urging American industry to take the lead by mounting “nationwide job training and retraining programs as the first step toward bringing the Negro up to economic parity with his fellow Americans.”

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