MIAMI BEACH (Jun. 27)
Rabbi Shlomo Goren, Israel’s Chief Ashkenazic Rabbi, warned today that the zero population growth of the Jewish people posed “a critical threat” to Israel’s physical security. Speaking to some 500 rabbis at the 38th annual convention of the Rabbinical Council of America, Rabbi Goren stressed that this condition “jeopardizes the spiritual and cultural existence of Jewish communities the world over, particularly in the United State.”
Israel’s need for an increased population must be met either by aliya or by an increase in the birthrate, Rabbi Goren said. He said that an increased birthrate would remove “complete dependence on immigration.” He noted that he had been pressing the Israeli government for greater benefits for families “blessed with many children.”
Rabbi Fabian Schonfeld, the Orthodox group’s new president, said that unless the Jewish communities pay serious attention to this problem their “very existence may be endangered.” Rabbi Yitzchak Sladowsky, co-chairman of the convention, and Rabbi Morris A. Gorelik, chairman of the resolutions committee, said the Jewish people still had not replaced the six million lost in the Nazi holocaust.
The delegation adopted a series of resolutions dealing with Jewish education at the closing session today in which they called on Jewish Federations and welfare funds throughout the country to increase their allocations to all-day Jewish schools which the resolution said “have proved themselves to be the most effective weapon for the transmission of moral and religious values.” In another resolution, the delegates went on record as strongly opposed to the introduction of potential nuclear weaponry into the Middle East, stressing that the Mideast “is the most volatile” area in the world and that “the presence of nuclear weapons there endangers the existence of our entire world.”
At yesterday’s session, the rabbis admitted that they had failed to capture the imagination of young Jewish intellectuals for Orthodox Judaism. Rabbi Schonfeld said Orthodoxy has failed to develop new methods to underscore Jewish precepts to youth, resulting in Jewish youth pursuing “all sorts of new ideologies such as the exotic and the adoption of radical leftist philosophies.”
Rabbi Walter S. Wurtzburger, editor of the RCA’s journal, Tradition, noting that nine out of 10 Jewish youth go to college, said “they expect those who wish to communicate with them” to use the type of “intellectual concepts” In which today’s youth express their ideas. But Rabbi Rafael S. Grossman of Memphis, Tenn., said the obsession by youth with sex and freedom from discipline posed a grave threat to the future of the Jewish community, particularly Orthodoxy.