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Reform Judaism Launches a Drive for Support of a Nuclear Freeze

A nationwide campaign to mobilize support for ending the nuclear arms race was launched by the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC), representing 760 Reform synagogues in the United States and Canada, with publication of a 307-page manual titled, “Preventing the Nuclear Holocaust — A Jewish Response.”

The drive was announced Monday by Harris Gilbert of Westfield, N.J., chairman of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism, at a news conference. Gilbert said the UAHC would work with Catholic. Protestant and other Jewish religious groups in behalf of a “mutual, verifiable nuclear freeze.”

The manual was edited by Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the commission’s Religious Action Center here, to provide “easy access to effective education and action programs aimed at reversing the nuclear arms race.”

Albert Vorspan, vice president of the UAHC and director of the Commission on Social Action, said Jewish groups had taken “inspiration and energy from the recent action of American Catholic Bishops in supporting a nuclear freeze.”

“Just as the Bishops’ statements were a motivational force within the Catholic community,” he said, “so do we believe that this manual will help mobilize the Jewish community to participate actively in the constellation of religious groups working on this issue. Reversing the nuclear arms race must become a Jewish and American priority if we are to prevent the nuclear holocaust that threatens to destroy us all.”

As part of the campaign, Reform synagogues will join forces with other religious and secular groups around the country as well as nationally to win support for a nuclear freeze, Saperstein said.

PRO AND CON VIEWS PRESENTED

The manual contains articles, position statements and speeches by a wide variety of scientists, statesmen, academicians, Jewish religious leaders and Jewish institutions. Also included are a list of organizations concerned with the nuclear issue, a glossary and bibliography, songs, cartoons, news clippings, extracts from the Congressional Record, interviews and programmatic recommendations.

Although the publication reflects the formal positions taken by the UAHC and the Central Conference of American Rabbis in support of vigorous efforts to freeze the nuclear arms race and reverse it, opposing viewpoints are also presented, along with responses to these positions.

In a statement issued upon publication of the manual, Vorspan declared: “A new and powerful force has made its appearance on the American and world scenes: a commitment to prevent the nuclear holocaust that threatens not only this generation but all generations to come. We are proud to take our place in this great force because it brings nearer the realization of an age-old dream of the Jewish people–the dream of a world at peace.”

Copies of the manual, Gilbert said, may be obtained at $5.95 each from the Religious Action Center, 2027 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036.

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