Rabbi Rackman: Jews Must Be the Conscience of Humanity

Jews have a responsibility for bringing sanity to “a mad world,” a New York rabbi told Jewish communal leaders gathered here for the 1972 biennial convention of the National Jewish Welfare Board. In a sermon delivered at a G. I. Sabbath service, Rabbi Emanuel Rackman of the Fifth Avenue Synagogue said “our world is quite mad. The century that made possible the greatest prolongation of human life destroyed more tens of millions of human beings than any preceding century. The century that worships science–fact, proven data — is more obsessed with myths and idols than many pagans were in the past.”

Rabbi Rackman, who is also a member of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency Board of Directors, told the convention that it is the “eternal mission of the eternal people” to remind the world that it is mad. “We must,” he said, “communicate this leadership to our youth that they shall not be deterred because of the smallness of their number from articulating this stance.”

Mordecai Bar-On, chairman of the Youth and Hechalutz Department of the World Zionist Organization in Jerusalem, said that encounters with Israel and its people “has helped young American Jews to better understand their own Jewish identity.” At the same time, he told a luncheon honoring international guests, “the contacts with American youth have brought about a change in the understanding of Jewishness among Israelis.” Israel, he added, is unable to exist without the diaspora, nor can the diaspora survive spiritually without Israel.

COMMUNITY CENTERS UNIFY JEWISH PEOPLE

Herbert Millman, executive vice-president of the JWB, stated that Jewish community centers, one of the few Jewish institutions native to the American scene, are “firmly established in many lands and share the common cause of contributing to the sense of oneness of the Jewish people.”

He recalled that Jewish community centers in Europe helped the war-ravaged Jewish communities develop foundations for meaningful Jewish existence and noted that the emergence in Israel of the community center as a basic institutional form draws from the same need that brought the centers into being in America, Europe, South America and elsewhere: “the need to weld a sense of community among settlers with diverse backgrounds.”

Millman announced the establishment of an International Jewish Program Materials Project co-sponsored by the World Federation of YMHAs and Jewish community centers, the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, the Youth and Hechalutz Department of WZO and the American Joint Distribution Committee.

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