U.S. Jews Start Passover Tonight Mindful of Soviet Jewry and Israel
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U.S. Jews Start Passover Tonight Mindful of Soviet Jewry and Israel

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Jews in the United States and throughout the world will usher in the festival of Passover tomorrow night, conscious of the fact that, for the first time in the history of Russian Jewry, the Jews in the Soviet Union will have no matzoh this Passover because of the ban imposed by the Soviet authorities.

In observing the Seder, during which the story of the liberation of Jews from slavery in Egypt is told, American Jews will also think of the increased number of Jews who are now immigrating to Israel from countries of oppression, seeking freedom in the Land of Israel. Their prayers will also go for Jews in need in other overseas countries.

More than 100, 000 Jews in the U. S. armed services on duty around the world will observe Passover and hold Sedorim under arrangements made by the National Jewish Welfare Board. They will be served by 370 full and part-time Jewish military chaplains. Supplies of matzoh, wine and other Passover foods, together with Haggadahs, were shipped months ago by the JWB to every military installation where Jewish personnel are serving, including installations in Germany, France, England, Spain Turkey, Italy, Greece, Japan, Korea, North Africa, Iceland, Formosa and other parts of the world.


Joseph Meyerhoff, general chairman of the United Jewish Appeal, reminded American Jewry in a Passover message that the great needs created by the current heavy Jewish immigration from certain countries overseas to Israel and other lands can be met only through increased support of the 1962 UJA campaign. He cited the great sacrifices being made by the people of Israel in maintaining their “open door” immigration policy.

“To help those on the move today to make their journeys, settle and take root in the countries of their choice must be regarded by every member of the American Jewish community as his first and solemn obligation. Only by helping–fully, swiftly and wholeheartedly–will the celebration of the Passover festival achieve its true meaning and significance for us as Jews and as Americans,” Mr. Meyerhoff said.

Edward M. M. Warburg, chairman of the Joint Distribution Committee, pointed out in his message that many refugees from tyranny and oppression are celebrating Passover in dignity and freedom for the first time in their lives, due to the aid given to them by American Jews through the United Jewish Appeal.

“But,” Mr. Warburg emphasized,” even as we take joy that so many have been helped to achieve freedom and security, we cannot forget those who are still not free, those with whom we are this year unable to share the matzoh and the blessings of freedom. But if only in spirit, they too–those who are not yet free–are also guests at our seder. As we remember those who fled oppression in Egypt, so shall we remember the harassed and the oppressed of our own times.”

Murray I. Gurfein, president of United Hias Service, the worldwide Jewish migration agency, said in his Passover messages “In today’s distress-ridden world, growing numbers of uprooted and stateless Jewish persons are appealing to us for the opportunity to put down new roots in the United States, Latin America, Canada and Australia. The swelling tide of anxious requests for assistance is as critical as it was during the exodus of refugees from Hungary and Egypt in 1956 and 1957. We must not let these pleas for salvation go unanswered.”


Mrs. Rose L. Halprin, chairman of the American Section of the Jewish Agency executive, emphasized in her Passover message that large sections of the Jewish people “are again finding freedom and hope in their new-found home in Israel.”

“In this ingathering of our people from lands of oppression we are witnessing the historic re-enactment of the Passover story. However, Israel’s continuing ability to serve as a blessed refuge can be assured only if the Jewish people in the free world will rise to the great opportunity of rescue and give its wholehearted support to the striving of large numbers of our people from freedom and a new life in Israel.”

Pointing out that “recent developments in the political field remind us again that Israel still faces hazardous problems in its efforts to establish peaceful relationships with its neighbors in the Middle East, ” Mrs. Halprin expressed certainty that “the Jewish people in the free world surely would give its fullest understanding and support to Israel’s firm resolve to develop to its fullest potentialities in peace and security.”

Dewey D. Stone, chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, Inc., stressed that the traditional holiday of Passover extends only over one week out of the year. Yet in Israel today every week brings boatloads of men, women and children who, in stepping off the gangplanks, experience their own private Passover. There is no Moses today to part the waters of the Red Sea, yet a sense of a unique historical process bordering on the miraculous surrounds also this modern Exodus.

“As the stream of immigration to Israel gathers momentum, one might say in a way that there is Passover all year round-the year-round re-enactment of one of the great themes in the history of our people. Thus it seems only appropriate that on this Passover holiday we, too, should reaffirm our resolve to mobilize all the resources of our own communities to aid Israel’s newcomers,” Mr. Stone declared.

Abraham Feinberg, president of the Israel Bond Organization, drew attention to the fact that “in a real sense, the history of Passover is being repeated today. Tens of thousands of immigrants are making an historic journey toward freedom in their ancient homeland, Israel, in a renewed wave of mass immigration. Many of the newcomers will be settled in the desert area known as the Negev, where the ancient Hebrews entered the promised land from their wanderings in the Sinai peninsula.” He called for American Jewish support of Israel’s development through the Israel Bond drive.


A call upon Jews in America to continue providing moral and material help to Israel, resisting at the same time the forces of assimilation in this country, was issued in a Passover message on behalf of the American Zionist Council by Rabbi Irving Miller, chairman of the Council’s executive committee.

Expressing pride in “the miracle of Israel, ” the AZC leaders stated” “our joy is marred by the knowledge that the lives of Israel citizens, and the very existence of their national State, are constantly threatened by hostile neighbors on all sides.”

Mrs. Siegfried Kramarsky, president of Hadassah, said in her Passover message that “Hadassah will continue to impress upon the Jewish people and, indeed, on all people, the need for accepting responsibility for maintaining their own identity while pursuing universal goals.”

Max Bressler, president of the Zionist Organization of America, said: “At this season, in keeping with the noble concepts of the founders, the Zionist Organization of America rededicates itself to the ideal of Zion Restored–the upbuilding of the Jewish land and the fostering of the unity of the Jewish people everywhere through the bond of common faith, tradition and heritage.”

Rabbi Mordecai Kirshblum, national president of the Religious Zionists of America, pointed out in his message that “there is a direct relationship between the exodus from Egypt, many thousands of years ago, and the present exodus of our fellow Jews from Arab countries.” He hailed Israel as a “bastion of freedom in the Middle East.”

Joseph Schlossberg, president of the National Committee for Labor Israel, related the Passover observance to Syria’s recent aggressions against Israel, and denounced the United Nations Security Council censure of Israel on that issue as “a cheap example of world powers ungraciously vying for the favors of the Middle Eastern rulers–who are as unstable as they are unreliable.”

Passover messages also were issued by the rabbinical and congregational bodies of American Judaism, stressing the relationship of the Passover message to current Jewish problems. The organizations included the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Combined Campaign for Reform Judaism, the United Synagogue of America, the Rabbinical Council of America, the New York Board of Rabbis, and others.


Rabbi Joachim Prinz, president of the American Jewish Congress, said in a Passover statement: “The unfinished business of freedom, which the Passover recalls to us, affects many people in many places. At home, the struggle of the American Negro to achieve that full measure of equality which our country promises to every citizen continues unabated.

“Abroad, too, there is a deep yearning for freedom–among the newly emerging states of Africa, whose people are tasting the first fresh breath of liberty, in Israel, where despite hostile neighbors and economic hardships a brand-new nation based on the timeless utterances of the Prophets is taking shape, and in Soviet Russia, a land not blessed by liberty where millions of our fellow-Jews seek some means of maintaining their link with Judaism and the Jewish people, a link their rulers would sever.

“To us who live in freedom, Passover is a summons to join in the struggles for human dignity taking place in our own day,” Rabbi Prinz stressed.

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