NEW YORK (Apr. 11)
Jews throughout the world completed preparations today for the first Seder of Passover which coincides this year with the Sabbath Eve tomorrow night, an occasion for prayers for the welfare of Israel and for the buffeted Jewish minority of Poland.
For American Jews it was a time of sharing in the unprecedented prosperity of a society nevertheless profoundly troubled by its unsolved racial problems at home and the absence of many of its sons fighting in a war in southeast Asia. The themes of a troubled time for Jews, Israel and humanity were keynoted in messages from the leaders of American Jewry.
Edward Ginsberg, general chairman of the United Jewish Appeal, reminded American Jews that the task of resettling 1,500,000 immigrants to Israel during the past 20 years had been buttressed "by the great and mighty philanthropic contributions of the people of Israel." He warned that with prospects for peace in the Middle East "growing dimmer, the people of Israel are no longer in a position to continue this help." He appealed for a response to the 1958 UJA campaign for the Israel Emergency Fund and the regular campaign that would be "even greater than the magnificent outpouring of support that the 1967 drive enjoyed."
Dewey D. Stone, chairman of the United Israel Appeal, warned in a Passover message that the crisis for Israel of last May and June "is not over" and that "peace has not been won." He declared that "our people in Israel face many serious problems, some of which must become the primary responsibility of world Jewry." Recalling the years during which "the miracle of the return" had "transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands of our brothers overseas," he said "we realize that had it not been for the assistance provided by Diaspora Jewry, their absorption in a young nation surrounded by hostile neighbors would have faced insurmountable obstacles." Adding his belief that the needs of Jews in Israel "is greater today than ever before." he expressed confidence American Jewry "will meet this challenge."
JEWS REMINDED OF PARALLEL BETWEEN EXODUS AND MODERN ISRAEL
Abraham Feinberg, president, and Samuel Rothberg, national campaign chairman, of the Israel Bond Organization, stressed the parallel between the story of the Exodus from ancient Egypt and the peril for Israel posed by modern Egypt. They noted that the Haggadah appeals to all Jews in all times to put themselves "in the place of those persecuted" by Pharaoh and that it was the duty of modern Jews "to identify with the people of present-day Israel" and to aid them "in their constant striving for a better life."
A similar note was sounded by Mrs. Rose L. Halprin. chairman of the American section of the Jewish Agency, in a message which said it was "tragic" that Passover came this year at a time when Israel "must unhappily fight for the protection of its citizens." She noted that Israel’s brilliant victory last June had not brought an end to "continuing acts of terrorism" requiring Israel to remain on guard and world Jewry to "remain steadfast" in support of Israel as it prepares to observe its 20th anniversary.
Louis J. Fox, president of the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds, declared in his Passover message, that the same enemies who had sought Israel’s destruction last June "still surround Israel and are still plotting her destruction" and that Jews must on this Passover rededicate themselves "to helping maintain Israel’s hard-won freedom." He emphasized that thousands of other Jews still lived in danger and in deprivation in the Soviet Union and in Arab countries for whom "the exodus is not yet possible." He also appealed to American Jews to be "the leaders" at home "in correcting injustice, eradicating the slums, the job discrimination, the education barriers–the obstacles put in the way of our fathers and grandfathers," but suffered to a much greater degree by the Negro today.
A condemnation of the "campaign of propaganda and purges" by Communist Polish leaders against the Jews in Poland was made by Morris B. Abram, president of the American Jewish Committee, who noted the connection between last June’s Middle East war, and the rise of anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union, as well as in Poland. He appealed also, in his Passover message, for peace in the Middle East between Israel and the Arabs through direct negotiations.
Rabbi Arthur Lelyveld, president of the American Jewish Congress, said the assassination of Negro rights leader Martin Luther King ‘recalls to us our Moses" and asserted that Jews were now called on to renew their commitment "to the cause of every man who is denied justice and equality" and to reaffirm support of "every initiative" to end the war in Vietnam.
Rabbi Israel Miller, chairman of the American Zionist Council, declared that the attack by the Polish authorities upon "Zionists" is "an attack upon freedom for all." as are the "religious and cultural disabilities" of Soviet Jewry. He warned that the modern Pharaohs were determined to destroy not only the "valiant citizens of Israel" but also the "spiritual values upon which Israel is based."
Similar warnings were sounded by the heads of the nation’s rabbinical and congregational bodies, Rabbi Levi A. Olan, president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, linked the struggle of the Children of Israel against Pharaoh with "the struggle for freedom" from discrimination, poverty and ignorance in this country. He said that "we must cry out to the world community for the right" of the Jews of Israel to exist, to be independent and to fashion their lives "in the spirit of justice and peace with their neighbors." Dr. Maurice Eisendrath, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, said that never before in Jewish history had the meaning of Passover been "so immediately relevant not only to Jews but to people everywhere tormented by the problems of an age in convulsion." He asserted that the struggle of the American Negro for full citizenship corresponds "much more closely to the experience of the Exodus than does any problem facing the Jews in America."
HELPING DOWNTRODDEN IN AMERICA SEEN AS ANOTHER URGENT DUTY FOR JEWS
Henry N. Rapaport, president of the United Synagogue of America, also cited the parallel between the struggle of the Negro today and that of the Israelites and warned that Jews must not allow their vision "to become blurred from the realities of the plight of the Negro community" by the "evil of Negro racists" and become deflected from "our moral obligation to help create better living conditions for our Negro fellow citizens."
Rabbi Joseph Karasick, president of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, appealed urgently to the Polish Government in his Passover message, to condemn publicly and to denounce the anti-Semitism unleashed against the remnant of Polish Jewry "saved from the holocaust."
Dr. Israel Goldstein and Mrs. Halprin, in a message as co-chairmen of the World Confederation of General Zionists, declared that the road to true peace for Israel remained "fraught with dangers and obstacles," requiring the Zionist movement to continue giving Israel whole-hearted support and to "make great and sustained efforts" for greater Western immigration to Israel.
Carlos I. Israels, president of United Hias Service, declared that the "current exodus" of Jewish men, women and children from danger zones in many parts of the world "demonstrates that the survival of our people through migration is as real today as it was in Biblical times" and that from such zones, Jews in increased numbers "continue to call upon ‘is for migration assistance.’
The Joint Distribution Committee reported it had shipped 617,500 pounds of matzohs and other Passover supplies to Europe and North Africa, Samuel Haber, JDC executive vice-chairman, said this was an increase of about 73,000 pounds over 1967. The largest shipment went to Rumania, which included 340,000 pounds of matzohs, nearly 85,000 pounds of matzoh meal, 500 pounds of shmurrah matzohs and 20,000 bottles of Passover wine.
He said Passover supplies also had been sent to Jewish communities in Belgian, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Yugoslavia and Melilla in Spanish Morocco. Special grants are being issued to needy Jews in Algeria, Morocco and Iran to enable them to buy Passover supplies produced locally.
SEDERS PREPARED FOR TROOPS OVERSEAS AND FOR THE AGED AND SICK
Passover observances by Jewish military personnel throughout the world will range from Seders for servicemen able to come together to solo Seders for men at isolated outposts or in posts in Vietnam which prevents them from joining other Jewish troops, the National Jewish Welfare Board reported, in announcing it had sent Passover supplies to more than 600 overseas and domestic military installations, as well as to Veterans Administration hospitals and other federal facilities for hospitalized veterans.
Seders will be conducted in Da Nang, Nha Trang and Saigon in Vietnam, Packaged Passover meals for solo Seders have been distributed to Jewish troops there who cannot be given leaves for the larger Seders. The JWB Women’s Organization’s Services, aided in B’nai B’rith and B’nai B’rith Women, shipped a record number of such packages, which also have been supplied to men on duty in domestic areas and at remote weather and radar stations, as well as to Peace Corps Jewish personnel. The more than 330 full and part-time Jewish chaplains will conduct Passover services in the United States and at 70 overseas installations. Qualified Jewish military lay leaders will conduct observances at places which cannot be covered by a chaplain, such as aircraft carriers and missile bases.
The Jewish sick and aged also will join in Seders in the hundreds of hospitals, medical centers, homes for the aged and similar institutions under Jewish sponsorship throughout the United States, At Beth Israel and other hospitals of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York where kashruth is observed, kitchens were made kosher for Passover. Special seders for the deaf will be conducted by the New York Society for the Deaf in Manhattan and by similar groups in other cities. The Joint Passover Association of New York City and the Joint Passover Committee of Queens and Nassau, have again distributed Passover aid directly to more than 5,000 needy families.
A demonstration Seder was held at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, the first in the 141-year history of the oldest Lutheran seminary in the Western hemisphere. The service was sponsored by the seminary’s student ecumenics committee in connection with the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith and conducted by Rabbi Solomon S. Bernards, director of the ADL, department of interreligious cooperation.