NEW YORK (Jun. 13)
An American Jewish leader declared here that Zionism and Israel have become the “religion” of American Jewry and their involvement with Israel has given them prestige and respect from the American people. Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg, president of the American Jewish Congress, made his remarks in an address at the United Israel Appeal’s 50th anniversary convocation at the Jewish Agency’s headquarters at 515 Park Ave.
“American Zionism succeeded in making American Jews comfortable in America” in contrast to the original European Zionism which negated the diaspora to pursue the goal of creating a Jewish State, he said. “In the United States Zionism has acted to make Jews more comfortable and a greater force within the American society.”
Dr. Hertzberg, who is an adjunct professor of history at Columbia University, asserted that “Within American society as a whole, the involvement of Jews in Israel, the very prodigiousness of their giving and the very impact of their political presence, has acted to gain respect for Jewish devotion and Jewish power.” Zionism is conceived by American Jewry, as being engaged in saving world Jewry through “political battle and fund-raising” and Zionism as such reaches “its greatest success in the United Israel Appeal,” Hertzberg said.
JEWISH MORAL TRADITION ENRICHED
He noted that the tremendous impact of and four and Israel in shaping American Jewish life manifests itself in the fact that being an anti-Zionist Jew is “an ex-communicable offense” in American Jewry. “You can eat chasir on Yom Kippur and you will not be excommunicated, but you can be excommunicated in any small Jewish community for not giving to the UJA.” Hertzberg said.
Dr. David Sidorsky, professor of philosophy at Columbia University, also contended in his presentation to the UIA convocation that the “American Jewish community was shaped by its involvement with Israel. In meeting the challenges of support of Israel it developed a sense of responsibility as a community and increased its maturity.”
According to Sidorsky, the involvement of American Jewry with Israel also gave it new avenues of contacts with other Jewish communities throughout the world and opened new ways of contacts with Jewish roots. “The American Jew got a sense of participating with an historical event,” Sidorsky said. In the view of Sidorsky, “The Jewish moral tradition, usually expressed in universalist terms was enriched by a sense of particular moral responsibility for the State of Israel.”