NEW YORK (Oct. 31)
The lay and rabbinic bodies of Reform Judaism took sharp issue today with the “Concerned Citizens for Nixon,” a group of Jewish supporters of the Presidential candidacy of Richard M. Nixon, for urging American rabbis to include pro-Nixon material in their Sabbath sermons this week. A statement, issued by Rabbi Maurice N. Eisendrath, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, and Rabbi Levi Olan, president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, denounced what they called a “crude attempt to manipulate the synagogue and the rabbinate for partisan political advantage.” It referred to a letter sent to Reform, Conservative and Orthodox rabbis asking them share with their congregants information contained in a report on a private meeting between Mr. Nixon and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
The letter was signed by Max M. Fisher of Detroit, who is chairman of the “Concerned Citizens for Nixon,” and Mr. Nixon’s special advisor on urban and community affairs. Attached to it was the full report by Rabbi Herschel Schacter of the Presidents’ conference, who complimented Mr. Nixon’s “grasp of problems of concern to the American Jewish Community.”
The statement by Rabbi Eisendrath and Rabbi Olan noted that they had received protests from a number of rabbis and laymen who received the letter. “We rabbis are deeply jealous of our free pulpit from which we seek to shed the light of Jewish teachings on the great moral issues of the day,” the statement said. “While the signers of the letter of October, 1968 have every right to express their views to anyone they wish, their letter betrays a lack a respect for the dignity of the synagogue and offends the sensibilities of the Jewish community.”
In a related development, William Scranton, principal foreign affairs advisor to Mr. Nixon, today criticized the Johnson Administration for selling 88 Phantom jets to West Germany without setting conditions while “delaying the sale of promised jets to Israel.” In a statement, he asked, “wherein is Israel’s security less important that the security of West Germany?”
Mr. Scranton, who is regarded in political circles as probable Secretary of State if Mr. Nixon is elected next Tuesday, said that it is important that the Soviet Union be convinced that the “U.S. will provide military support to Israel in order to bring a peaceful solution through negotiation.” He reiterated Mr. Nixon’s opposition to an imposed settlement in the Middle East.