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South African Rabbi Declares Support to Political Victims

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Rabbi Dr. Arthur S. Super, the Chief Minister of the United Progressive Jewish Congregation of Johannesburg, has joined church leaders in declaring his support of assistance to people who are “banned, restricted or imprisoned for acting on moral or religious principles.” Rabbi Super said “It seems to me self-evident that assistance must be given to help those who are in need because of any action which they have taken in defense of religious teaching.”

Denying that aid to such people could be construed as “a confrontation with the government,” he said “It is surely only one more instance of the right of individuals or groups to speak and act according to their conscience.” Several leading rabbis in South Africa recently expressed their concern over detention without trial of political suspects and they have supported church calls for full maintenance of the rights of the individual.

Meanwhile, Britain’s Chief Rabbi, Dr. Immanuel Jakobovits, sent the Archbishop of Canterbury a letter expressing “the profound concern and deep sympathy of the Jewish community at the renewed manifestations of bigotry and intolerance manifest in the severe sentence passed by the South African courts on the Rev. Gonville ffrench-Beytagh, the Dean of Johannesburg.”

The letter stated that “the Board of Deputies of British Jews have asked that I associate their name with these sentiments as well as offer any support that we can give to secure the release of the Dean from his harsh sentence. We hope that you will be able to convey to the Dean that our thoughts are with him in his hour of trial,” the letter concluded. The Archbishop of Canterbury replied that he “greatly” appreciates the letter of sympathy and that he will have the message passed on to the Dean.

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