NEW YORK (Aug. 22)
A coalition of national Jewish organizations plans a protest in Washington against the nuclear arms race which will feature the first Succah built in Lafayette Park to dramatize Jewish opposition to the nuclear weapons buildup.
The event is being organized under auspices of Succah Shalom (Shelter of Peace), an ad hoc group, Rabin Miller, chairperson of Succah Shalom, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in a telephone interview from Washington. She said that the Washington Jewish Community Council, which has been sponsoring a vigil for Soviet Jews in Washington for many years, built a Succah last year in the park, which is directly across from the White House.
Miller said the anti-nuclear protest will be held from October 10 to October 14 and that thousands of Jewish demonstrators from the United States and Canada are expected to assemble in Lafayette Park to call on the United States, the Soviet Union and all other governments “to end the funding, development and deployment of nuclear weapons.” She said the event will coincide with the National Freeze Weekend.
“We are calling upon the nations of the world to begin dismantling the systems that will bring nuclear Holocaust,” Miller said. “As Jews we have suffered the horrors of one Holocaust. It is time for us to act, to assure that such atrocities will never happen again.”
The event will begin at 3 p.m. on October 10, which is Succot eve this year, when the Succah will be built and decorated in the park. The organizers said the holiday symbol will have new significance for Jews this year, as one of a series of such events being arranged in several states.
They said the Succahs will tell the world that “in the shadow of nuclear weapons, we are all of us refugees who can be deprived in an instant of food, shelter, healing and comfort. The open Succah reminds us that there is no shelter anywhere on this planet to protect us from the fire, the blast or the poison of nuclear rain.”
Miller said a special feature will be held in the Succah that evening and the public will be invited to a multi-cultural “Peace Sabbath” on Friday night. The four-day event will also include leafletting, delegations to members of Congress, vigils, distribution of food to the hungry, and a special educational program for children.
Miller said the protest will culminate on Sunday, October 14 with a massive afternoon rally in the park. She reported that similar Succah-based anti-nuclear weapons protests are being arranged by local Succah Shalom groups throughout the United States, listing Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia to date as reporting plans for participation.
Endorsing organizations were listed by Succah Shalom as B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundations; the Federation of Reconstructionist Congregations and Havurot; Jewish People Fellowships; New Jewish Agenda; Natonal Federation of Temple Youth; the (Conservative) Rabbinical Assembly; the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association; the Shalom Center at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College; and the Social Action Commission of the (Reform) Union of American Hebrew Congregations.