Themes at Menorah Institute: Israel Must Not Be Abandoned; Passion Play Rapped

"We dare not abandon Israel in the hour of her greatest need," was the plea of Monsignor John Oesterreicher to participants in the opening session yesterday of the Second Annual Menorah Institute at Seton Hall University. The institute, which will continue through June 24, is sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith and Seton Hall’s Institute of Judaeo-Christian Studies. Msgr. Oesterreicher said "We must shout from the housetops that this State, so full of promise, has a right to live, that it must be allowed to continue its pursuit of justice and its contribution to humanity." "Though small and struggling herself, Israel, a people of heart, sends doctors, engineers and agricultural experts to far-away places…And it is this unselfish land that Arab leaders and terrorists wish to wipe off the map," he continued. "The greatest danger to Israel’s existence today, he stated comes not from Arab armies or bands of terrorists but from the presence of Russian military experts, gunners and pilots in Egypt. "There are those who like to belittle the danger, who feel that the Russians just wish to frighten Israel’s government into yielding to all sorts of demands," he declared. "Into the ears of all those who view the Middle East situation as not grave, I would like to shout: Remember Hungary, remember Czechoslovakia!…We must not hesitate to demand of our administration that it give to Israel all the aid she needs…"

Dr. Joseph L. Lichten, national director of the department of intercultural affairs of the ADL discussing the present state of Catholic-Jewish relations in the light of Vatican II, and events of the past year, observed that a number of positive developments have occurred. These include the emergence from the Catholic community of a document adopted by the bishops of New York, Brooklyn-Queens and Rockville Center dioceses "Guidelines for the Advancement of Catholic-Jewish Relations," and an in-service teacher training program on Jewish religion and Jews in the literary field jointly sponsored by the ADL and the New York Archdiocese, Dr. Lichten, however, expressed concern that "Catholic-Jewish cooperation is losing its priority within the Catholic community" and urged that "interreligious cooperation must not be pushed to the bottom of today’s agenda." He declared that he was concerned because "the memory of the Nazi holocaust. instead of remaining a lesson to all of us, has faded into non-existence." He said that what must be remembered is that the "disaster of Auschwitz symbolizes our real brotherhood, the fate of many nations, of many religions, and not only of the Jewish people." Dr. Lichten said he was concerned because in the town of Oberammergau, a Passion Play is being performed. "Rather than emanating love for all men, as would have been fitting, it is propagating prejudice and hatred," he declared. "With only slight changes, this is the same performance and the same Passion Play which Hitler praised so highly during the Second World War, while the gas chambers and ovens of Auschwitz were in full operation."

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