WASHINGTON (Oct. 14)
Several hundred persons gathered in Lafayette Park across from the White House in front of a Succah today in a demonstration called “Succat Shalom, Shelter for Peace” to urge that “the United States, the Soviet Union and all the governments of the world end the funding, development and deployment of nuclear weapons and begin dismantling the systems that will bring holocaust.”
“This is the first time in the history of our country that Jews have gathered in Washington to bring from the teachings of our traditions and the history of our experience, a message of peace to the world,” Barbara Sarah, mistress of ceremonies for the program, declared.
Robin Miller, national coordinator of Succat Shalom, which he said was a broad non-partisan coalition of Jews of all ages, called today’s event a “wonderful beginning” with “Jews coming together as Jews, calling for an end to the arms race.” The event featured music and speakers from the various sponsoring organizations.
One of the speakers was Theodore Mann, president of the American Jewish Congress, who noted that the AJCongress has urged a bilateral, verifiable nuclear freeze. But he said more must be done than to pass resolutions.
“As Jews who sadly know better than most about the human vulnerability symbolized by the Succah, we must send a message,” Mann said. “First to our own Jewish leaders and to Jews in communities and on campuses throughout America, a message that there is no more important issue than this one, requiring all of legendary political sophistication and intensity, social activism and talents of organization. Then altogether, we must convince America’s leaders and the whole public that this nation’s single most important responsibility is to build a structure of peace, a Succat Shalom.”
‘CALLING IT AS IT IS’
While Mann, at a press conference, stressed that as AJCongress president he cannot take a political stand on the election, he criticized President Reagan for not entering into arms negotiations with the Soviet Union and for opposing every disarmament agreement made by Democratic and Republican Presidents for the past 25 years. He later conceded to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that his remarks might be considered partisan.
But he noted that he was speaking on a particular issue of concern to Jews, as when he criticized Reagan on the separation of church and state during the recent Hadassah convention. He said this was just “calling it as it is.”
Both Miller and Christie Balka, national co-chairman of the New Jewish Agenda, stressed that Jews are also concerned about social issues and that funds for arms were taking away money for the needy. Miller noted that part of the Succah in Lafayette Park was left there to symbolize the needy. Many of those attending today’s demonstration brought food for the needy.
A HOST OF SPONSORING ORGANIZATIONS
The sponsoring organizations for today’s event were: the Commission on Social Action of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, Rabbinical Assembly, Jewish Peace Fellowship, Federation of Reconstructionist Congregations and Havurot, the Shalom Center, Rainbow Sign, New Jewish Agenda, North American Federation of Temple Youth, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, and the Mordechai Aniolewicz Circle of Americans for a Progressive Israel.
Mann said the AJCongress was not a sponsor because the effort should be led by a “generation of young Jews because the last generation failed.”
Succat Shalom is part of a national freeze weekend. Similar Succat Shalom programs are being held in Boston North Hampton, Mass., San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia, Seattle, among several other cities; as well as in Toronto and in Israel.