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UAHC Calls for Greater Jewish Participation to Help Combat Pressures on Dissent

The Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism was empowered by its governing body today to develop programs to insure greater Jewish participation in efforts to combat the “extraordinary pressures on dissent” that threaten “traditional American liberties.” The authority was given by the Board of Trustees of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, at its semi-annual meeting here after hearing a report on the findings of a weekend seminar conducted by the Commission on “Pressure Against Dissent: The Open Society in Crisis.” The report placed responsibility for “the climate of hate” in America on government policy in Southeast Asia and on political leaders who have “resorted to demagoguery, name calling and statements which impugn the loyalty of Americans who, in conscience, disagree with their policies.”

The report urged the UAHC, which is the central congregational body of Reform Judaism in the United States and Canada, to “create an understanding of the legitimate role of dissent so that reaction against some of the current excesses will not create a spirit of intolerance among our own people.” It also recommended that “the tradition of dissent in Judaism” be taught in the curriculum of our religious schools at all levels with discussion of its application to current synagogue and social problems.” The report stated that “extension of the war into Cambodia, the recent killing of young people at Kent State University and Jackson State College, Mississippi and the vast outpouring of anger and frustration on college campuses are among the latest bitter fruits of the Vietnam conflict.” It also called for a prohibition of live ammunition by National Guardsmen and police on college campuses.

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