DETROIT (Jun. 26)
The Catholic Church and most of the Jewish community may hold “irreconcilable” views on such issues as abortion, and public aid to sectarian education, but these differences should not be allowed to impede constructive dialogue between the groups an assembly of Jewish community relations leaders declared today. A policy statement adopted at the annual plenary of the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council included a plea for “civilized standards of debate, with mutual respect and without acrimony,” when such differences are a public issue.
The statement noted that Jewish complaints of Christian “insensitivity” to Jewish concerns are matched by strong Christian feelings of Jewish indifference to issues on which Christians place a high priority. “Differences and conflicts not withstanding, there are causes Jews and Christians have in common that should be pursued cooperatively,” the 250 delegates declared. “Today’s obstacles to Jewish-Christian dialogue should be viewed as hurdles to be surmounted rather than barriers by which to be separated.”
On abortion, one of more than a score of public issues on which policy “guidelines” were adopted, the NJCRAC agencies opposed proposals for a constitutional “right to live” amendment, maintaining that an abortion in the early weeks of pregnancy is a matter for each woman’s own religious and ethical convictions and not to be regulated by law. The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America dissented, as it did from another majority view on a policy statement opposing parochial and other forms of public funding for parochial schools.
Isaiah M. Minkoff, NJCRAC’s executive vice-chairman since its founding 30 years ago, surprised the assembly with a brief announcement that he would retire at next year’s plenary. The dean of Jewish community relations professional workers, Minkoff now 73, began his career as executive secretary of the Jewish Labor Committee 39 years ago.