Dr. Goldmann: Survival of Jewish Communities Threatened by Nature of Century

Dr. Nahum Goldmann warned that the survival of Jewish communities throughout the world is imperilled by the “revolutionary character of our century.” In his address to 300 persons attending a banquet last weekend held by the Union of American Hebrew Congregations for its national Board of Trustees and the presidents of its constituent Reform Jewish Temples, the president of the World Jewish Congress declared that the threat is not so much one of “classical anti-Semitism” as it is “the awakening of hundreds of millions of people, of classes and countries oppressed in the past.” While Jews as individuals may not be in danger, Dr. Goldmann said, Jewish communities are threatened by “the explosive internal situation” in their respective countries. He cited Cuba as an example where, he noted the regime which is “not tainted with any anti-Semitism, saw the ruin of a once-flourishing and prosperous Jewish community because it was tied up with the middle class, which the Castro regime destroyed.” Dr. Goldmann cited the current situation facing the three million Jews in the Soviet Union as another example. If the problem of Soviet Jewry were just one “of regular anti-Semitism,” he stated, it would be serious, but less complicated than it is. The problem there is that while the Soviet regime recognizes the rights of minority groups that are territorially concentrated and can form their own autonomous regime, the Jews are dispersed throughout the Soviet Union, he observed. “It is thus a problem how to grant them the same rights as are enjoyed by the territorially concentrated other minorities.”

Dr. Goldmann said he did not justify the “clear discrimination against the Jews as a religious and national minority, or the enforced assimilation which is the policy of the Soviet regime.” A factor of influence in the lives of Jewish people today, Dr. Goldmann observed, is that they “are mostly on the other side of the barricades.” This, he said, was in sharp contrast to the role of the Jews from the days of the Prophets to the 19th century when they were “in opposition to the status quo, against the establishment” and in “the forefront of all revolutionary movements.” Dr. Goldmann stated that Jews today “are linked to the status quo, therefore, “an object of attack and criticism to all the revolutionary forces in the world, of which the New Left, both non-Jewish and Jewish, is only one spectacular illustration.” Dr. Goldmann stated that a priority need was to “find new challenges to secure the Jewishness of the new generation and thus the survival of our people.” He stressed the emergence of the State of Israel, which “has given a new dimension to Jewish life, but has, on the other hand, created new problems of a unique and complex nature” because Israel, with its own political interests, “creates problems for Jewish communities living in countries whose policies may be hostile or unfriendly to Israel.” Dr. Goldmann added, however, that in light of the present “critical situations.” it is essential that world Jewry “stand unreservedly with and behind Israel.”

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