Jerusalem (Mar. 10)
–If the Labor Alignment wins the June 30 election it will introduce legislation into the next Knesset assuring that all segments of Judaism will have equality, former Foreign Minister Abba Eban promised here.
Eban, who is a Labor MK, made this pledge at a reception he gave for the delegates to the 13th convention of the World Council of Synagogues and the 81st annual convention of the Rabbinical Assembly of America, the organization of American Conservative rabbis. It is the first time the two groups have held a joint convention and it is the first time their conventions have been held in Israel.
Jews in Israel should not give preference to one trend in Judaism over another, Eban said. He rejected the approach up to now in which Orthodoxy is the only officially recognized form of Judaism in Israel.
In his opening speech to the convention last night, Rabbi Seymour Cohen, president of the Rabbinical Assembly, also urged Israelis to give equal status to all movements in Judaism. He said religion should not be a bargaining point for creating coalitions or other political purposes. He said the fact that the convention was being held in Jerusalem demonstrated the centrality of Jerusalem and Israel for the Jewish people.
The Conservative movement has a million-and-a-half members around the world. There are about 35 Conservative congregations in Israel with more than 1000 in the Conservative youth movement.
STRESS IS ON ALIYA
Eban, in his remarks, also urged the delegates to promote aliya to Israel. He challenged them to set a goal of one percent of their membership annually immigrating to Israel. Of the Rabbinical Assembly’s 1200 rabbis, 120 have immigrated to Israel and 16 serve Conservative congregations here.
President Yitzhak Navon, in an address to the convention last night, also stressed aliya, as well as Jewish education. But Navon also repeated his previous warning that the number of Jews in the world is declining. If this trend is not halted there will be only eight million Jews in the world by the year 2000, compared to 11 million today, he said.
At the reception, Bernard Segal, former executive president of the United Synagogue of America, announced a special award to David Zucker, the outgoing president of the World Council of Synagogues, for his contributions to the Conservative movement.
Simon Schwartz, president of the Synagogue Council of America, announced that his organization has decided to adopt the Jerusalem Program with its full recognition of Zionism, the centrality of Israel in Jewish life, the importance of aliya and the need to defend Jewish rights throughout the world.