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Capital’s Jewish ‘establishment’ Shows Mixed Feelings About Identifying with Moratorium

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The so-called Jewish “establishment” has evinced mixed feelings about identifying with peace marchers who will converge on the capital Nov. 13 for three days of antiwar demonstrations. While some elements of the “establishment” have taken steps to cooperate with the Vietnam war opponents, others are shying away.

Jewish youth organizers who are planning to participate in the war moratorium demonstrations say some Washington synagogues and temples are refusing to permit their premises to be used to house and feed the marchers. There appears to be a fear of possible violence arising from the moratorium demonstrations and a number of Jewish leaders have indicated that President Nixon might be “annoyed” to learn that Jewish facilities accommodated persons opposed to his Vietnam policies.

Jewish officialdom appeared to be particularly upset by plans of Jewish radicals to march around. the White House blowing shofars. The radicals are being organized by Jews for Urban Justice in Boston, New York, Philadelphia and other cities. The shofar-blowing idea has caught on among non-radical Jewish youth. But some local community leaders fear that President Nixon might regard them as a “loud minority.” In his Vietnam speech Nov. 3, the President appealed to the “silent majority” for support of his Vietnam policies against the “loud minority” that oppose them.

Jewish anti-war activists say that local rabbis have offered to pray for peace but there is little disposition among some of them to provide sleeping space for the thousands of Jewish youth expected to come here. Some synagogues and temples have said they cannot permit their social halls to be used as dormitories because bar mitzvahs may be held over the week-end.

But others are offering facilities and will even participate in the moratorium. Peace services will be held at Temple Micah and Temple Sinai. An Ad Hoc Peace Committee has been formed by Rabbi Bernard Mehlman, of Temple Micah. His group, known as “Sim Shalom”, is composed of those desiring more active Jewish participation in the demonstrations. The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism has provided facilities for the Student Assistance Center and will allow people to sleep on the floors in sleeping bags. Peace services and a teach-in will be held at the Washington Hebrew Congregation on Friday, Nov. 14 and a community-wide havdala service will be held there Saturday night.

B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundations have rallied to organize facilities and dormitories are being prepared at the Hillel Houses of George Washington University and the University of Maryland. A seminar on “Vietnam, the Middle East and the New Left” will be held under B’nai B’rith Hillel auspices at B’nai B’rith national headquarters. Radical Jewish workshops will include a session on organizing the Jewish community. A teach-in on the Middle East will be conducted by David Gelber, editor of “Liberation” magazine. The Jewish Students Assistance Center will be manned on a 24-hour basis to provide housing aid to the many thousands of Jewish youth and Hillel members expected.

About 50 Jewish leaders, rabbis and others have gathered under the auspices of the Jewish Community Council to discuss needs for organizational housing, teach-ins, assemblies, speakers, films and the distribution of peace literature. The Council itself has avoided taking a stand on the Vietnam issue, but it will permit out-of-town youths to sleep on the floor of its downtown offices.

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