New Center Seeks to Provide Jewish Perspective on Preventing Nuclear War

The Recon-structionist Rabbinical College in Wyncote, Pa., has announced the opening of its Shalom Center, which it called the first Jewish resource in the world devoted to the study and public discussion of Jewish perspectives on preventing a world nuclear holocaust.

A spokesperson told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the Shalom Center was the only such agency connected with any seminary, Christian as well as Jewish, in the United States.

Arthur Waskow, a member of the RRC faculty, was named director of the Shalom Center. He told the JTA that the center has been started with grants of $25,000 each from the Emet Foundation of Los Angeles and the Levinson Foundation of Brookline, Mass. He said the first year budget for the new center is $100,000.

Ira Silverman, president of the RCC, said the Shalom Center was gathering studies, books, pamphlets, films, liturgies, policy statements and similar materials for dissemination to the Jewish community. He said the center planned to commission special studies to cover a variety of areas involved in its goal.

He said these included the relevance of Jewish sacred lore and tradition to the issues of possession and use of nuclear weapons; and the impact of the nuclear aims race and of various arms-control approaches to the Soviet Union.

Silverman said another study will seek to determine whether the experience of Soviet Jewry support movements in bypassing Soviet governmental controls to make direct contact with Soviet Jews could be applied to Soviet compliance with arms control pacts.

He said other studies will deal with the economic impact on the American Jewish community stemming from decisions on specific weapons and research contracts, and approaches to conversion of weapons production facilities for civilian purposes.

Silverman said the center was planning religious liturgies on the threat of a nuclear holocaust, as well as a study of proposals for nuclear-free zones in the Middle East.

TRAINING SPEAKERS

Silverman said the Shalom Center is training speakers and organizing speakers bureaus in a number of American cities to provide speakers for Jewish groups on the peril of nuclear disaster and for bringing of Jewish perspectives to general audiences. He said one speakers bureau is already functioning in Philadelphia.

Waskow said the Shalom Center has started to provide speakers for national and other Jewish groups. He said the center, which is housed in the RRC, has made initial contacts for development of speakers bureaus in nine other cities.

Beside Waskow the Shalom Center staff includes a secretary and two staff persons who are currently directing creation of the speakers bureaus. He explained additional staff, like the present two, will be engaged for a particular study on a consultant basis, adding “we do not want to build an empire in the Shalom Center but to stimulate all existing Jewish organizations to do this work.”

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