ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (Dec. 3)
A call to Jews throughout the world for a “mass Torah revival in the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War.” as well as a broad range of programs to intensify Jewish religious observance and outreach programs to estranged Jewish youth, emerged at the 51st national convention of Agudath Israel of America last weekend. Three thousand delegates and guests from North and South America. Europe and Israel participated in the four day conclave, which was addressed by the deans of the major Orthodox rabbinical seminaries in this country and Orthodox community leaders.
“No Jew, wherever he is, can pretend to be untouched by events in Israel–or anywhere, for that matter,” declared Rabbi Moses Feinstein, head of the Council of Torah Sages of Agudath Israel of America and dean of the Mesivta Tifereth Jerusalem in New York. “There may have been times when people concerned themselves with their own private matters or confined their lives to their small locked-in communities and pretended that the rest of the world does not exist. Today we know that is an illusion.” The convention concentrated on seeking means of lifting the levels of Torah observance within all Orthodox Jewry and sought means of marshalling increased public support for Israel’s material and spiritual needs. A resolution was adopted calling upon Israel to institute Saturday as its national careless day, instead of its decision to leave each citizen the choice of day. “If Holland and Belgium could choose Sunday, their Sabbath, for their day to dispense with driving in the current energy crisis, then certainly the Jewish people could expect our Holy Land to select the Jewish Sabbath as the suitable day to save gasoline,” the resolution declared.
The convention also approved the decision of the Agudath Israel administration to “temporarily” end its fight to prevent the adoption of year-round daylight saving time. Although year-round daylight saving time would create serious problems for Orthodox Jews, because in some areas they would not be permitted to begin their morning prayers until around 8 a.m. in Jan., Agudath Israel ceased its efforts against the measure the moment it became an emergency measure to help in the current energy crisis which the public attributes partially to American military aid to Israel.
A call for a “new type of Jewish leadership” was issued at the closing session by Rabbi Moshe Sherer, executive president of Agudath Israel of America, who charged that “basic policy issues on matters crucial to the very survival of the Jewish people are being decided by leaders of Jewish establishment groups who basically lack the qualifications and background necessary for this role.” Jewish policy decisions, he said, “can only be made by men who are deeply rooted in Jewish traditions, thoroughly grounded in years of Torah studies, and personally committed to a Torah lifestyle.” He also warned the Jewish Federations to “recognize the urgency of immediately placing massive financial aid to yeshivos on a top priority basis, before concerned Jewish parents in utter frustration over the constant crisis of Jewish educational institutions take stronger measures to obtain this help.” The convention re-elected its presidium, headed by Rabbi Feinstein.