LOS ANGELES (May. 6)
Problems facing American Jewry and the imperative need to outlaw terrorism were probed here by the 1000 delegates at the five day biennial convention of the JWB, the association of Jewish community centers, YM and YWHAs and comps in the United States and Canada.
A New York rabbi criticized the United States and the “Western world” for “procrastinating in saying ‘no’ to terrorism and temporizing with evil.” A JWB leader urged that the vast untapped reservoir of “woman power” be immediately utilized to meet the growing demand of the spiraling Jewish population in cities throughout the Sunbelt. And another JWB leader said the key question facing American Jewry is whether the Jewish people can “survive and maintain its identity in an open society and in an atmosphere which places the highest priority on personal preoccupation and relegates community needs to near obscurity.”
THE ISSUE OF TERRORISM
Rabbi Judah Nadich of Park Avenue Synagogue in New York City, chairman of the JWB’s Commission on Jewish Chaplaincy and a former head of the Rabbinical Assembly, said the “time for free nations believing in the rule of law to unite to outlaw the terrorists and to make terrorism impossible” was years ago when the Palestine Liberation Organization “hijacked planes, bombed airports, murdered Israeli athletes and killed children in Israeli schools.”
Instead, he noted, “there was indecision and temporizing with evil. There were politicians and state Department professionals who counseled recognition of the PLO — even as the leaders of Western Europe advocate today.”
Nadich, who was Gen. Dwight Eisenhower’s advisor on Jewish affairs in the European theater of operations during World War II, declared that it was “the PLO who taught the Iranian terrorists how to mine the perimeter of the U.S. Embassy in Teheran. The Ayatollah Khomeini publicly thanked the PLO and immediately after his ascension to power, gave the PLO the Israeli Embassy in Teheran. “It is not too late, he added, “for America to reassert its moral leadership and to declare to the world its determination to oppose terrorism of every kind in every way.”
NEEDS OF JEWS IN THE SUNBELT
Discussing the needs of Jews in the Sunbelt, JWB president Robert Adler said that “during the past decade there has been a tremendous exodus of the Jewish populations from urban centers of the Northeast and Midwest to smaller communities in warmer climates, As a result, these communities have insufficient Jewish communal resources to meet the particular needs of young Jewish families and senior adults and a tremendous increase of single-parent families.”
Adler indicated that the JWB will take the lead in encouraging Jewish organizations throughout North America to accelerate the training and development of both women and young people as volunteers and professionals within the Jewish community.
He felt that society, in general, and the Jewish community, in particular, must make greater strides in moving women into professional positions. “It is a national problem that the Jewish community is more sensitive to and moving fast on,” he said. “We must begin moving women up to executive positions where there are almost none today.”
CRITICAL AREAS FOR COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
Dealing with what he termed the key question facing American Jewry, JWB executive vice president Arthur Rotman said, “At a time when many are committed to the gratification of self, the one institution that continues to thrive because of its focus on building a community is the Jewish community center. We now have a society in which our traditional Jewish values have been completely inverted, since for many the community is not the central concern nor is there concern for future generations but only for self.”
For the Jewish community, Rotman pointed out, this preoccupation with self results in a number of interrelated concerns, such as the fact that there are more singles who tend to stay on the fringe of the organized community, the less than zero Jewish population growth; and the divorce rate of close to 40 percent.
Rotman discussed four critical areas for community involvement: addressing changing needs of Jewish individuals and families; fortifying communal leadership to meet the challenges of the 80s; enhancing the perception of the Jewish community center; and social planning and funding of communal programs and services.
In recognizing the importance of Jewish community centers in relation to those issues which confront American Jewry, Rotman pointed to the fact that the center movement involves more than one million people, the largest constituency of any Jewish functional body in North America, operating in some 150 communities with more than $1.5 billion worth of facilities.