JERUSALEM (Sep. 23)
President Ephraim Katzir, in his first Rosh Hashana message to the people, urged greater efforts to fight poverty and inequality at home and assimilation abroad. He also expressed the hope that the forthcoming elections will bring new faces into politics.
Katzir will read his message–an annual presidential tradition–on Israel radio on Rosh Hashana eve. It was released exclusively to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency Friday for transmission in time for the High Holy Days to Jews abroad. The message departed from the more generalized tone of former President Zalman Shazar’s messages. It is strongest on poverty and the social gap which Katzir has made his major concern since his ascent to office in May.
“Despite distinct achievements in the fields of housing, welfare and education, it is all too clear that the living standards of the poorer social strata have not risen adequately and that not all our children receive the necessary attention and education,” he said. “Our national life is still affected by social polarity and incomplete integration of the various communities, which impede the emergence of a truly unified society providing all citizens with full opportunities and development.”
NO PAUSE IN FIGHT FOR SOVIET, ARAB JEWRY
Continuing, Katzir declared: “We must concern ourselves much more with the fulfillment of those minor moral commandments which set the tone of human relationships: tolerance, good manners, neatness in lodgings and public places….” He urged volunteering by ordinary citizens for “the inculcation of Jewish and general values in the minds of our young people, and for help for new immigrants” in their social, cultural and economic absorption, and urged no pause in the fight for Soviet and Arab Jewry.
Focusing on Jews in the free world he said: “Assimilationist tendencies devastate a great part of Jewish youth. Here enormous efforts must be made to spread knowledge of our ancient spiritual heritage and conscious identification with our peoples past and present.”
Katzir asserted that Israel’s “chief prayer” is for peace.” Until that longed-for day comes, we have no choice but to devote a substantial part of our manpower and resources to assuring our security….May (the New Year) indeed be a year in which the words of the prophet are realized: ‘Zion shall be redeemed with justice, and they that return to her, with righteousness.’”