JERUSALEM (Nov. 20)
Some 1000 American Jews walked from downtown Jerusalem to the Western Wall in an expression of solidarity with Israel’s proclamation that united Jerusalem is its capital. The event, known as the Great Jerusalem Pilgrimage, was organized several months ago at the height of the criticism of Israel for passing the Jerusalem Law. The pilgrimage was organized in the U.S. under the auspices of the American Zionist Federation and in Israel by the World Zionist Organization.
Mayor Teddy Kollek spoke to the group at the Western Wall and told the members that he appreciated this symbolic American Jewish support for united Jerusalem. However, he added, “you should go a step further. Some of you at least must come here (on aliya). One member of every family.” Alternatively, he suggested that some should come here for an extended period of time “to study for a year or two or to provide some national service.”
The event which took place Tuesday, was almost marred by a religious controversy. Although the group gathered some 100 yards from the Western Wall, the local rabbis insisted on separating the women from the men. After a heated exchange the group agreed to the arrangement, but not before Rabbi Joseph Sternstein, president of the American Zionist Federation, declared angrily that if he had known that the women and men would be separated the group would have gone elsewhere.
ONE MILLION SIGNATURE DRIVE
One of the participants in the Jerusalem solidarity march, Rabbi Seymour Baumrind of Lake Success, N.Y., spiritual leader of a Conservative congregation there, announced that a united Christian-Jewish campaign to collect one million signatures on a petition supporting united Jerusalem has reached its half-way mark.
Baumrind said the petition campaign which began in his synagogue during the Rosh Hashanah holiday, has turned into a campaign to give Israel political support as the new Reagan Administration comes into office. The petition, the rabbi said, will be presented to Premier Menachem Begin and will also be sent to President-elect Reagan and to new members of the U.S. Congress.
According to Baumrind, evangelical Christian churches have reacted enthusiastically to the petition drive. He said that about 50 percent of the signers are Jewish and the rest are Christians.