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Rabbi Says Israel No Substitute for U.S. Jewry’s Obligation to Own Future

Rabbi Wolfe Kelman, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly of America, declared in a speech prepared for delivery tonight that “Israel cannot become a surrogate for American Jewry’s obligation to the covenant of Jewish existence.” Rabbi Kelman, who was scheduled to address the 42nd annual convention of the National Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs, explained: “In Israel, hopefully, we can help demonstrate the special qualities which a state with a Jewish majority can exemplify in creating a society where justice and compassion prevail. And the American Jew can do no less in demonstrating that he can create a Jewish society in a nation which welcomes diversity and in which the Jewish segment retains its voluntary loyalty to preserving an identity and role consistent with our heritage and hallowed hopes.” Rabbi Kelman added that “the reawakening of Jewish consciousness and mutual responsibility in recent years” made him “confident that the inexorable choices which confront us will deepen our interdependence and enable both Israel and American Jewry to develop vibrant Jewish traditions.” He noted that “Despite repeated predictions of gloom about Jewish life in America, every indicator points to a larger number of young and old more intensely involved in every aspect of Jewish education and commitment than at any previous period.”

The convention’s keynote speech was delivered last night by Gov. Frank Licht of Rhode Island. The legislator, a member of the Conservative Synagogue in Providence and former president of the General Jewish Committee of Providence, cautioned that “We must guard against any imposed world plan that would endanger Israel’s security.” He said “Peace cannot and should not be imposed on the Middle East–as desperately as the Middle East needs peace.” Until the parties agree on a settlement and Israeli sovereignty is recognized, he said, “There will be no peace. A peace imposed and maintained by the great powers will be nothing but a hollow shell. A lasting peace will permit the Arab states to commence the social programs so essential to the lifting of the standards of all people in that area.” Licht also called for freedom of emigration for Soviet Jews, and end of harassment, the eradication of anti-Jewish discrimination in employment and higher education, and freedom of “full expression of their national-cultural identity, which has been denied to them” but granted to “all other Soviet nationalities.

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