U.S. Jewish Communities on New Year’s Eve Focus on Israel, Communal Needs, Soviet Jews

Jewish communities throughout the United States were occupied with several important areas of concern as the High Holiday season began at sundown today. Among these were services for the poor and the sick, the financial needs of Israel at a time of unprecedented economic burdens for that country and the plight of Jews in the Soviet Union. The Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York arranged special holiday observances for thousands of patients and clients in hospitals and other member institutions. These include the Mt. Sinai Medical Center, the Beth Israel Medical Center and the Maimonides Medical Center where the shofar will be sounded and services will be held in auditoriums and at the bedsides of patients too ill to attend. The Hebrew Association for the Deaf will hold services with Rabbi David Rabinowitz, the only deaf ordained rabbi in the U.S., officiating. Services have also been arranged at the Daughters of Jacob Geriatric Center and the Metropolitan Jewish Geriatric Center. The Jewish Braille Institute of America, another Federation beneficiary, is circulating prayer books in Braille. An estimated 850 persons will attend Rosh Hashana services at the 92nd St. YM-YWHA in Manhattan. The Youth Residence Center in New York, operated by the Jewish Child Care Association, has invited young people between the ages of 16 and 22 to conduct their own services tonight.

Rosh Hashana, and especially Yom Kippur, are traditional occasions for appeals on behalf of the needy and for Israel. In the Greater Boston area, 81 synagogues plan to ask worshippers to pledge to purchase a maximum amount of State of Israel Bonds during the High Holiday season, according to Bernard Garber, general chairman of the Israel Bond Organization. Speakers at the synagogues and temples will emphasize Israel’s need for Bond loans, pointing out that the country’s expenditure of $5 million a day for defense, forces it to rely in large measure on Bond sales for its normal industrial and economic development. The Union of Councils for Soviet Jews in San Francisco said today that thousands of Jews in the USSR will receive Rosh Hashana cards from American Jews this New Year. The Council provided the cards at a nominal cost. Each contain a Jewish scene and New Year greetings in Russian, English, Georgian, German, French and Hebrew.

Harold B. Light, a spokesman for the group, said it had been hesitant about launching the card-sending campaign “because some thought the cards might endanger the people we want to help.” He said the idea was tested last Passover when over 30,000 cards were sent to a selected list of 74 names. “Many of those on the list have already been allowed to leave the Soviet Union,” he said, “and some of these tell us they believe that the hundreds of greetings they received actually helped them to gain their freedom.” Another Rosh Hashana note came from Stamford, Conn, where the First Presbyterian Church announced that Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur hymns will be played on the 56 bell carillon on the church’s tower on Sunday, Oct. 4. The serenade will be rendered by George Matthew Jr. who is the organist at the Congregational Church in New Canaan and at Temple Sinai in Stamford. Dr. Donald Campbell of the First Presbyterian Church said the program is the latest in a series of ecumenical endeavors by his congregation.

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