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‘sole Spiritual Center for Judaism’ Rabbi Berzon Urges Catholics, Protestants to Recognize Jerusalem

A plea to the Christian community, both Catholic and Protestant, “to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel” was made today by Rabbi Bernard L. Berzon, president of the Rabbinical Council of America, in his presidential address at the opening session of the 36th annual convention of the Orthodox rabbinical organization here. In his proposal, he noted that while Christianity and Islam “possess several other sacred cities” in addition to Jerusalem, Jerusalem “is the sole spiritual center and city for Judaism throughout the world.” He added that the Jewish religion was “inseparable from the city of Jerusalem as the spiritual and cultural center from which the basic heritage and values of Judaism emanate.”

The rabbinical leader said such Christian action would be a demonstration of “good will, respect and harmony” which would “contribute to the establishment of a firmer basis for international peace.” He added that Judaism was “fully cognizant of the theological problems which may confront Christianity” in recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, but, he said, “a proper understanding” by the Christian community of the role of Jerusalem in the life of the Jew “is a pre-requisite for the continued growth” of improved relations between the Christian and Jewish communities.

He expressed concern over “pressures being applied upon world Christianity by representatives of the Arab states and religious leaders of the Arab-Christian and Moslem communities.” Such pressures, he said, could “undermine all the solid cooperation” developed between the Christian and Jewish communities during the past decade. He said he hoped those Christian leaders would not be “coerced or influenced” by such pressures “into reorienting their thinking toward Jewry and Israel.

SHORTAGE OF RABBIS IN U.S. DECRIED

On the American scene, Rabbi Berzon asserted there was a “crisis” in the American Jewish community created by “the failure of a substantial body of graduates of rabbinical seminaries to enter the active rabbinate.” The “most competent and gifted” of the current rabbinical graduates, he told the convention, “prefer to follow professional careers” in education, government and private industry. He warned that this development would have “a most damaging effect not only on small, isolated and outlying communities” but also on “the progress of large urban Jewish congregations.”

Rabbi Berzon said the young rabbis of today, like their predecessors were “willing to endure sacrifices to attain their religious goals” but that the rabbinate failed to provide them “with adequate spiritual fulfillment and recognition” as spiritual leaders who wish to serve their congregants.

He urged congregational leaders to respond to the “danger signals” by seeking to relieve rabbis from “non-spiritual endeavors, such as fund-raising and public relations” so they could devote maximum time to scholarly and literary activities.

Rabbi Bernard Rosensweig, the convention chairman, called on the United Nations to adopt “drastic measures to prevent a recurrence of the tragedy at Lydda Airport” last May 30. He said “international action was needed to curb this lawlessness.”

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