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Young Israel President Pledges to Fill ‘vacuum’ in Leadership

The president of the National Council of Young Israel, Harold Jacobs, pledged here that it is the role of the Young Israel movement to “fill the vacuum” that currently exists of “true Jewish communal leadership.”

“The selfless and community spirited men and women who were among the Jewish people’s finest traditions have become increasingly rare in our times,” Jacobs told some 500 persons gathered for the three-day Young Israel national convention. “Community service is increasingly viewed more as an opportunity for career building rather than a sacred obligation.”

Jacobs, whose remarks were made in his inaugural address as he was reelected to a third term as president of the Orthodox synagogue organization, criticized the actions of “too many American Jewish leaders” who did not stand steadfast with Israel during the “Peace for Galilee” operation last summer.

“Instead of rising to Israel’s defense, they joined in the shameful accusations, undermining the morale and confusing the allegiance of much of the Jewish people, as well as Israel’s many friends in the outside world,” Jacobs declared. “Why are those Jewish critics silent now, when Israel’s honor is vindicated by the judgement of history, when she has concluded a peace and withdrawal agreement in Lebanon and the Reagan plan has fallen flat on its face?”

He called upon every member of the Young Israel movement to become personally involved, “to do whatever we can, in our own way, to meet the problems that confront us as a people.” Jacobs asserted that the involvement of the individual members of the Young Israel movement is still a major factor in communities and synagogues throughout the world, and he called upon the movement to redouble its efforts to encourage such activity in public affairs, in outreach programs on the college campus, in Israel and the broad range of Young Israel activities.

JEWS STAKE IN POLITICS STRESSED

Meanwhile, Malcolm Hoenlein, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York (JCRCNY), speaking yesterday at a session on “Jewish Political Power,” declared that “Jews have a double stake in taking part in the political process in this country.”

Hoenlein outlined both the specific issues of concern to the Jewish community and the need to strengthen through active participation the democratic process and the rights which we enjoy in this country.

“We need to be strong advocates to Israel, Soviet Jewry and other international and domestic issues which directly concern the Jewish people,” Hoenlein said. “Furthermore, the rights of free speech and political expression which we enjoy in this country are best protected by their vigorous exercise by all citizens. We as Jews, who have often suffered the most in countries that lack these freedoms should be most vigilant in their use and protection.”

According to Hoenlein, the results of the 1982 elections “proved to be one of the most satisfying in the history of Jewish communal activism in this country. The results of the 1984 elections will prove whether our success in ’82 was a fluke, or representative of the political sophistication and maturation of the American Jewish community. It is important for our political friends to know that we will support them, as well as our foes to realize the depth of our concerns on issues crucial to the welfare of the Jewish people,” Hoenlein said.

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