NEW YORK (Apr. 16)
As Jews everywhere prepared to celebrate the joyous spring festival of Passover commemorating the exodus of Jews from Egypt, American Jewish leaders issued their annual Passover greetings and compared this “ancient miracle” to the case of the tens of thousands of Soviet Jews who have managed to reach Israel in the past two years.
Paul Zuckerman, United Jewish Appeal general chairman, said the “dream of life” and hope “nurtured by the cry of ‘Let my people go’ …continues 25 years after the establishment of the Promised Land….But this Passover, there are still fellow Jews desperately seeking the redemption of freedom.” This Passover, Zuckerman said, “as we prepare to celebrate Israel’s 25th anniversary, let us resolve to make the dream a reality; to keep the promise.”
Edward Ginsberg, chairman of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, said the joyousness of Passover “will be especially true for tens of thousands of immigrants in Israel for whom ‘Next year in Jerusalem’ is now. Tens of thousands more, for whom ‘Next year in Jerusalem’ is still but a dream, will celebrate the Passover seders with somewhat less joy, behind locked doors.” Ginsberg extended the JDC’s Passover greetings to “the American and Canadian Jewish communities and to all Jews everywhere” in the name of cooperating agencies and “of all Jews everywhere who continue to depend on the JDC for assistance.”
Sam Rothberg, general chairman of the Israel Bond Organization, said “Nowhere has this parallel of an ancient miracle (the flight from Egypt) been so dramatic as in the case of tens of thousands of Russian.Jews who have brushed aside almost insurmountable barriers to reach the Promised Land. It is a source of real joy that so many Russian Jews, cut off not so long ago from normal relations with the rest of their people, will this year for the first time celebrate Passover in freedom as new citizens in the free State of Israel.”
JEWISH WILL TO SURVIVE
Jacob Stein, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said that the central meaning of Passover and Israel’s Independence Day is “essentially the same” to Jews. “They represent the Jewish will to survive in the face of bitter oppression,” he said. “They represent as well the determination of Jews to-live and worship as free men…”
Philip E. Hoffman, president of the American Jewish Committee, decried the continued persecution and harassment of Jews in the Soviet Union, especially those who have indicated their desire to leave for Israel. “Our joy (at the deliverance of 32,000 new Soviet immigrants) is clouded by those many tens of thousands who still live in bondage in the Soviet Union…” Hoffman said, In his Passover message, Hoffman urged the United States to turn to the needs of the poor and unfortunate at home and build unity in American society.
Mrs. Charlotte Jacobson chairman of the American Section of the World Zionist Organization, said “As we happily commemorate the ancient Biblical exodus from Egypt, we rejoice that a new and miraculous exodus has transpired in the past quarter century, the emigration to a national homeland in Israel of a million and a half Jews, largely from countries of dire oppression.” She said that today Jews must direct the summons on “Let my people go” to the Soviet government and “we must back up our words by positive action.”
Herman L. Weisman, president of the Zionist Organization of America, said that Soviet Jewry’s struggle will take its place in history alongside the exodus from Egypt and that this “new exodus commands our reverence.
Rabbi Irving Lehrman of Miami Beach, president of the Synagogue Council of America, said that since Passover “celebrates man’s quest to live in freedom and dignity” it is “not surprising that the situation of Jews in the Soviet Union is so central in our thoughts during this season.” He added that “Passover’s theme of freedom also turns our attention to the struggle for justice at home.”
KREMLIN LEADERS NEED PASSOVER MESSAGE
Rabbi William Berkowitz, president of the New York Board of Rabbis, said “Never was a message of freedom more needed and valid than it is today.” He said that message should be directed to the leaders of the Kremlin, and that “it is especially needed in Syria, Iraq and other Arab countries where Jews are not accorded elementary human rights.”
Rabbi Robert J. Marx, New York Federation of Reform Synagogues director, said “Our seder prayers this year will be with our fellow Jews in the Soviet Union who are struggling for freedom in their own way.”
Mrs. Henry N. Rapaport, president of the National Women’s League of United Synagogue of America, said that “On this festival of freedom, we pray for the welfare and happiness of our Jewish brothers and sisters in the Soviet Union and say to them: ‘We support you in your struggle…’” Mrs. Eleanor Marvin, president of the National Council of Jewish Women, urged its 100,000 members “to raise their voices of protest in behalf of those in bondaged poverty, oppression by government, discrimination because of sex, race or religion.”
Rabbi Louis Bernstein, president of the Rabbinical Council of America, urged rabbis to dedicate their Passover sermons to the “plight of our brethren in the Soviet Union, the Holocaust with particular emphasis on the Warsaw Ghetto revolt which occurred during Passover and the 25th anniversary of the State of Israel.”
Rabbi Sol Landau, president of the Southeastern Region Rabbinical Assembly, said “this season of ‘our liberation’ evokes the full dynamism of redemption and deliverance for…us (and for) Americans who were kept enslaved for years as prisoners of war (and for) Soviet Jews who were kept for decades in isolation and bondage.”
The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem M. Schneerson. in a lengthy message addressed “To the Sons and Daughters of Our People Israel, Everywhere” said, “There were times when Jews saw revealed miracles, such as the miracles that occurred daily in the Beth Hamikdosh. But even in the present days of Golus, when the world is engulfed in ‘darkness’ and miracles are not in evidence to the physical eye. It is only because the person to whom a miracle occurs does not recognize his miracle, as our Sages of blessed memory declare.”
Carl Glick, United Hias Service president, said “All of us associated with United:Hias Service are proud to know that many Jewish men, women and children will observe this Passover as free people for the first time…”