WASHINGTON (Dec. 1)
The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America ended its four-day 78th anniversary convention here with the adoption of a series of resolutions delineating the Orthodox viewpoint on wide range of matters of direct concern to the Jewish community in the U.S. and abroad.
Its resolution on Soviet Jewry took cognizance of the fact even free emigration would not solve the problem of “the majority of Soviet Jews who have not yet shown any desire to emigrate.” In that connection, the UOJC demanded that “the Soviet campaign against the Jewish religion must be halted” and the Soviet Union must. “make available to Soviet Jews the rights given other Soviet minorities including the institutions, schools, textbooks and materials necessary to teach the religious traditions and beliefs of our people.”
The resolution also stated that “while the majority of Soviet Jews (who emigrate) choose to go to Israel, every effort must be made to welcome and service those that choose to live elsewhere in the free world.” The UOJC urged its affiliated synagogues to monitor Soviet violations of the 1975 Helsinki accords dealing with human rights and “to spare no efforts in ensuring the continuation of Jewish life in the Soviet Union.”
Another resolution called on Jews everywhere “to include the Jews of Syria in their prayers and to intensify their efforts on behalf of this beleaguered community.”
LIMIT USE OF RABBI TITLE
A resolution under the heading of “Ethics” stated that “all individuals who may have rabbinic ordination but are not serving in the pulpit or working full time in Jewish education or communal work to refrain from using the title ‘Rabbi’ and to eschew any privileges attached to this title.”
Contrary to news reports that this resolution was aimed specifically at Rabbi Bernard Bergman, the former nursing home czar now serving a prison term for fraud, and the Jewish Defense League founder, Rabbi Meir Kahane, a UOJC spokesman told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the resolution had “no one in mind.”
The UOJC also called on President-elect Jimmy Carter to declare full amnesty for all American citizens who refused to serve in the Vietnam war. It pointed out that according to both Jewish tradition and American history, “those who refuse to serve, be it from conviction or cowardice, are to be granted eventual re-entry into society.”
WARNS OF NEW ANTI-SEMITISM
Three major addresses highlighted the UOJC convention which was attended by over 1000 delegates from the U.S. and Canada. Harold M. Jacobs, who was re-elected president of the UOJC warned of “a new form of anti-Semitism” in the form of anti-Israel or anti-Zionist positions being “promoted and propagated by forces of the so-called Third World and Communist countries.” According to Jacobs “the classic anti-Semite has now put on a new uniform” but “only the clothes have changed underneath there still beats the heart of a Jew-hater and Jew-baiter of old and his goal and purpose has not changed since.”
Prof. Norman Lamm, president of Yeshiva University, called on the Orthodox community to recognize and acknowledge “the unhappy fact that we Orthodox Jews are a minority within a minority.” But he warned against trying to solve this dilemma either by joining the majority or by withdrawing from society at large “and pulling in and manning the ramparts against the hostile world.” According to Lamm. “The only valuable approach…is to acknowledge the facts but not rest too content with them and to build our own institutions vigorously while participating fully in the largest society in the wide Jewish community.”
PROPER RELIGIOUS EDUCATION
A guest speaker was Baron Alain de Rothschild, president of the French Jewish Consistory. He related the history of that all embracing organization of French Jewry since its inception by Napoleon and its success in gathering all French Jews under the umbrella of halachic tradition.
He stressed that “to give our youth a sound and proper religious education is a common goal both of the Union and the Consistoire as it is also the necessity to create a future generation still more determined to transmit the eternal values of Judaism. To bring forth such a project, we shall have some day to cooperate. Why not make it today?” Baron de Rothschild asked. “For we can, by combined actions, draw in our wake other communities less well structured, less important numerically and incite them to fight successfully for their survival.”