A.jJ Congress Head Says He Regards Viet Nam As a ‘jewish Issue’
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A.jJ Congress Head Says He Regards Viet Nam As a ‘jewish Issue’

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The importance of Jewish involvement in the struggle to end the Viet Nam war was stressed today by Rabbi Arthur J. Lelyveld, president of the American Jewish Congress, in an address before his organization’s national women’s division convention.

Serving notice that the American Jewish Congress regarded Viet Nam as a "Jewish issue," Rabbi Lelyveld said: "We are proud to be the cutting edge of every forward movement of self-respecting ws who take both their identity within the Jewish people and their covenant vole seriously. This is why we of the American Jewish Congress have spoken out on Viet Nam — because we are loyal Americans and because we are faithful Jews."

The Jewish Congress leader said that "everything in our tradition prompts us to believe that there are times when silence is immoral. Thous shalt not stand idly by the blood of thy neighbor is a primary demand of Jewish ethics recorded in the Book of Leviticus." An appeal for peace in Viet Nam also highlighted a convention address by Sen. Ernest Gruening, Alaska Democrat. Mrs. Charles L. Snitow of Soarsdalo, N.Y., was elected to another two-year term as president of the group.


Rabbi Joachim Prinz, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, told the convention that he saw a "lack of religious values, as we understand them, in Israel." He said "our concern is that Israeli youth identifies Jewish religion with ritual." He deplored "the lack of social concerns, the fact that we do not hear the voice of religious Israel in terms of peace and war, social justice, integration, and similar issues."

Stating that Israel was not merely a sovereign state "but a people of which we are a part, " Rabbi Prinz held that American Jewry had "a stake" in "censorship in Israel, secret trials held, certain police regulations from the British Mandate which have not yet been repealed."

Rabbi Prinz said that American Jews "ought to be not merely permitted but invited by Israel to help solve the problem of separation of church from state, a separation which does not exist in Israel and which permits religious groups to form a political bloc in Israel –blocking not merely politics as they do, but blocking religion itself, chaining religion and the freedom of religion to the exigencies of politics."

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