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Reject Rabbis’ Demand to Cancel Performance of Casals’ Oratorio in Israel

The directors of the Israel Music Festival have rejected a demand by the Chief Rabbinate that they delete from the program an oratorio by the world famous cellist, Pablo Casals on the grounds that it is Christian in theme and might encourage “missionaries.” Mr. Casals arrived here yesterday to conduct his work, titled “The Crib.”

Earlier Chief Rabbis Nissim and Untermann urged Minister of Tourism Moshe Kol to use his influence to have the oratorio banned. They said it was based on the birth of Christ and would give a “green light” to proselytizing by Christian missionaries in Israel. The rabbis were given to understand that the oratorio is a musical composition, not a religious observance. Local newspapers chided the Orthodox clerics for their “lack of elementary familiarity with musical tradition.” They pointed out “few men are further removed from religious bigotry” than the 94-year-old Casals, a self-exiled Spaniard who left his home years ago in protest against the Franco regime. Mr. Casals makes his home in Puerto Rico.