Anger over Kissinger’s Decision to Accept an Award on Simchat Torah; Disrespect for Jewish Tradition
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Anger over Kissinger’s Decision to Accept an Award on Simchat Torah; Disrespect for Jewish Tradition

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Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger will accept the Hans J. Morgenthau Memorial Award of the National Committee on American Foreign Policy at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel tomorrow night. But several officers of the committee and former recipients will boycott the event because it is being held on Simchat Torah, the only date Kissinger said he was available.

Mordecai Hacohen, a founder and vice president of the conservative foreign policy group, fired off an angry telegram to Kissinger saying: “I strongly protest against your receiving the Hans Morgenthau Award on September 29 … On this day Jews celebrate Simchat Torah, an important Jewish holiday, as you are aware from your early Jewish upbringing. By insisting on this particular date you regrettably allow the organizers of this fund raising event to discriminate in a most un-American manner against the attendance of observant Jewish officers, members and friends of the committee …”


Others who will boycott the award ceremonies, according to Hacohen, are Ambassador Sol Linowitz, last year’s recipient, who was scheduled to present the award to the former Secretary of State; author Elie Wiesel who resigned as vice chairman of the event because of the date; Howard Adelson, a member of the Committee’s executive committee; and Ambassador Ira Hirschman.

Hacohen’s telegram to Kissinger chastized the American diplomat for desecrating “a Jewish holiday with total disregard to the religious sensitivities of your Jewish compatriots.”

He also recalled that the late Hans Morgenthau, the political science professor for whom the award is named, “was the grandson of an Orthodox Jewish rabbi in Germany” and that both he (Hacohen) and Kissinger had delivered eulogies “when he was laid to rest by the pious followers of Lubavitch.” Morgenthau himself was not an observant Jew.


Hacohen reported that the executive committee of the foreign policy group decided in March, 1983 to present the award to Kissinger. “Dr. Kissinger suggested September 29 as the only date when he would be available to receive the award,” Hacohen said but “apparently no one at the time noticed that the evening of September 29 falls this year on an important Jewish holiday, Simchat Torah.”

He said that much later, when he “discovered this mistake” he urged a postponement of the date. Morgenthau’s daughter, Susanna Morgenthau, did not concur and according to Hacohen, informed him that she was requested to and would cable Kissinger inviting him to accept the award on September 29.

But Wiesel, with whom Hacohen said he discussed the matter later, thought “that the choice of this date was a terrible mistake and an insult to Jewish religious sensitivities…He said that he will immediately write to Dr. Kissinger expressing his regret that he will not attend the event at which he was listed as vice chairman,” Hacohen explained.

Similarly, according to Hacohen, Linowitz’s “immediate reaction was that under the circumstances he would not confer the award upon Dr. Kissinger as planned, as to do otherwise would constitute total disrespect for Jewish law and tradition.”

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