NEW YORK (Nov. 24)
To alert the Jewish community to “the increasing danger of nuclear war and the proliferating nuclear arms race,” the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC) this week launched a series of educational meetings at Reform synagogues across the country.
The first program took place last Sunday night at Temple Beth El in Great Neck, L.I., immediately following the show of the ABC-TV drama “The Day After,” which was seen by some 200 members of the congregation in the synagogue.
“It is fitting that we viewed this dramatization of the catastrophe of nuclear war here in a synagogue, a house of God,” said Rabbi Jerome Davidson, senior rabbi of Beth El. “This film has made clear there is little time for making that choice. Now is the time to reverse the arms race and support a bilateral, verifiable nuclear freeze as our only hope for halting the madness whose potential consequences we have just witnessed.”
Joining Davidson in the discussion was Benjamin Abelow of the Washington-based Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. Abelow, who serves as arms control coordinator at the Center, was a major contributor to “Preventing the Nuclear Holocaust — A Jewish Response, ” published by the UAHC as a manual for organizing, educating and programming on nuclear issues in the Jewish community.
URGES CO-EXISTENCE WITH THE USSR
Abelow assailed the Reagan Administration’s policy on building and deploying MX and Pershing II missiles, declaring: “These weapons do not deter war but rather bring it closer by undermining deterrence.”
Davidson called for “coexistence with the Soviet Union and an end to the ‘evil empire’ mentality.” He told the meeting:
“If the voices of American religious leaders are silenced, the ‘Moral Majority’ preachers will fill the vacuum with their distrust and hatred of the USSR, against which they tell us the only defense is still more destructive power. That is why we must become part of a developing religious voice in the land, calling for an end to the madness and renewing our hopes for peace.”
The series of meetings launched in Great Neck was undertaken to implement a resolution adopted by the UAHC at its biennial convention last week in Houston, calling for a freeze by Washington, Moscow and all other nuclear powers “on the testing, production and deployment of first-strike nuclear weapons.”
Some 3,000 convention delegates, representing 770 Reform synagogues in the U.S. and Canada, also called on the Reagan Administration “to delay deployment of the proposed Cruise and Pershing II missiles until we exhaust good faith efforts to negotiate successfully a treaty on intermediary nuclear forces.”