‘world Jewry in a Changing World’ is Theme of Sixth Plenary Assembly of the World Jewish Congress
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‘world Jewry in a Changing World’ is Theme of Sixth Plenary Assembly of the World Jewish Congress

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Dr. Gerhart M. Riegner, director-general of the World Jewish Congress, said here yesterday that the more than 500 delegates from 65 countries around the world who will be attending the Sixth Plenary Assembly of the WJC from Feb. 3-10 will debate and decide what new policies must be undertaken to meet the new realities of a changing world and how those policies should be implemented.

Addressing a press conference at the Belt Agron, Dr. Riegner said that first and foremost responsibility the WJC faces is the forging of new and effective ways to strengthen relations between Israel and the diaspora. He noted that a new sense of isolation has swept through the Jewish world. Frustrated by the apparent abandonment of Israel even by old friends, Jews have displayed a tendency to withdraw into their shells and to move away from the traditional liberal Jewish position of support for social changes, he said.

While there are understandable reasons for this change of behavior, Dr. Riegner observed, no nation can live in the modern world in isolation. “Our difficulties will only increase if we do not succeed in convincing those responsible for shaping tomorrow’s world of the legitimacy of our position,” he stated. The WJC will deal with this problem in a series of seminars, symposiums and workshops dealing with Israel and the diaspora, Soviet Jews and Jews in Arab lands, the situation of small Jewish communities, Jewish-Christian relations, and relations with the Third World. The theme of the week-long assembly will be “World Jewry in a Changing World.”


On Feb. 2, Dr. Nahum Goldmann, WJC president, will formally open the meeting with an address on “The Jewish People Among Nations.” The following day there will be a debate on the assembly theme with the main speakers Philip M. Klutznick, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Economic and Social Council and a member of the WJC Governing Council, and Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg, president of the American Jewish Congress.

On Feb. 5 there will be discussions on Jews in North America, Western Europe and Eastern Europe, a debate on the issue of Jewish youth, and addresses on “Israel and the Middle East” to be delivered by Premier Itzhak Rabin and WZO Chairman Pinhas Sapir. The following day Dr. Riegner will address the assembly on “The World Jewish Congress in a Changing World.” There will also be a report on Israel and the Middle East by Foreign Minister Yigal Allon, discussions on “Jerusalem and the Jewish People,” anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, and reports on changes in the WJC structure to better meet challenges and tasks imposed by new realities.

The meeting will be the first gathering of the WJC since 1966 and the first ever to be held in Israel. All sessions but one will be held in the Jerusalem convention center, Binyanet ha-Coma. The largest delegation, 109 persons, is expected from the U.S. Other Jewish communities to be represented will include India, Yugoslavia, Rumania and Iran.

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