JERUSALEM (Jan. 7)
The Sixth “Knessia Gedalah” (World Congress) of the Aguda Israel movement opened tonight at the Binyanei Haooma convention center here with calls for an end to assimilation, an end to intermarriage and the establishment of three worldwide centers to combat the decentralization of religion.
“We must fight against assimilation, and against intermarriages,” the chairman of Agudat Israel, Rabbi Pinye Levin, told some 530 delegates assembled in the crowded hall. Two-thirds of them are from abroad, including the U.S., Europe, Latin America, South Africa and Australia, and the remainder from Israel. Thousands more members of Aguda Israel assembled in three other halls to watch the proceedings on closed circuit television.
Levin claimed that assimilation and mixed marriages are the fruit of efforts made by the Reform and Conservative movement abroad. He also cautioned the delegates against the dangers of a free press.
The opening session of the convention, which is to last five days, was attended by Sephardic Chief Rabbi Ovodia Yosef, Knesset Speaker Yitzhak Shamir and other MKs. But the highlight of this evening’s session come when the Rabbi of Gur and Rabbi Shach, both members of the Council of Torch Sages, entered the convention hall. Hundreds of admirers crowded the gates in order to catch a glimpse of the two sages.
The session took on a somewhat festive air when the delegates received a telegram from the Lubavitcher Rebbe congratulating them on the convention and advising them to do all they could to spread “Judaism, the Torah and the mitzvot” throughout the world.
OPPOSITION TO REFORM, CONSERVATIVE JUDAISM
The assembly, which last met in 1964, is expected to sound the battle cry against Reform Judaism during its present session, in particular against any Israeli recognition of either Reform or Conservative Judaism.
Last week, MK Yehuda Meir Abramowitz told the press that the Aguda intends to launch “an open all-out campaign” against the two groups, for “they are largely responsible for the catastrophes of assimilation and mixed marriages which have befallen the Jewish people throughout the world.” He also noted that the Aguda plans to establish centers in New York, London and Jerusalem to combat intermarriage.
The convention may also turn to political issues, such as whether it is permissible to hand over Judaea, Samaria and Gaza to Arabs. Until now, these issues have largely been avoided so as to prevent internal dissension between party doves and hawks and Zionists and non-Zionists.