NEW YORK (Mar. 14)
The lessons that contemporary society can learn from the ancient festival of Purim which begins at sundown March 17 were stressed in messages issued by Jewish leaders here today. Rabbi William Berkowitz, president of the New York Board of Rabbis said “The right to dissent, especially in matters of religion and conscience, is a central theme of the festival of Purim.”
The story of the Jewish victory over Haman, the Persian Grand Vizier who sought their destruction, teaches, that “the pressure toward conformity is one that all freedom-loving people must resist,” Rabbi Berkowitz said.
Jacob Stein, chairman of the American Committee for Israel’s 25th Anniversary Celebration, said the Purim holiday and Israel’s forth-coming 25th Independence Day “serve as a reminder that adversity often leads to new possibilities of growth and development. Together they represent the Jewish will to survive in the face of bitter oppression and are living proof that faith in survival is a fundamental Jewish trait,” he said.
Rabbi Louis Bernstein, president of the Rabbinical Council of America, said the Purim story “has pertinence today because the principles involved are the same. Evil men still transfer their personal hatreds and prejudices to the group. Men of faith still struggle and sacrifice for their ideals.”