Three of America’s leading Torah sages joined in a call for “total mobilization of the forces of Torah ideology to help the Jewish masses to reject the poison of fraudulent brands of Judaism.” The sages addressed 4,000 Orthodox Jewish representatives from this country and abroad attending the 59th national convention of Agudath Israel of America at the Rye Town Hilton here.
Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, dean of Mesivta Tifereth Jerusalem in New York and chairman of the Council of Torah Sages, speaking by pre-recorded film from his home, said: “We must seek to inculcate the Jewish masses with Torah values through Jewish education, by building and supporting our struggling Torah institutions.”
Striking a similar theme was Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetzky, dean of Mesivta Torah Vodaath, and Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchok Ruderman, dean of Yeshiva Ner Israel in Baltimore. Both praised the Agudath Israel movement for “giving courage to To#ah Jewry by speaking up with dignity for the needs of authentic Judaism.” Kamenetzky also appealed for unity in the Orthodox Jewish community.
A prominent member of the Council of Torah Sages of Agudath Israel in Israel, Rabbi Moshe Shapiro, dean of Yeshiva Be’er Yaakov, said that the recent decisions taken by the Council, including the terms for Agudat Israel’s participation in the Likud coalition “are an education for generations to come on how the principles of our timeless heritage can be used to determine the contemporary political and social agenda of the Jewish people.”
LAWS TO HALT ARCHAEOLOGICAL DIGS IS A PRIORITY
Rabbi Avrohom Shapiro, Knesset representative of Agudat Israel and chairman of the coalition, said that the first legislative proposal of Agudat Israel in the new Knesset session would be a law to “halt archaeological digs in ancient cemeteries” promised by Prime Minister Begin in the coalition agreement with Agudat Israel. Shapiro also pledged to work to amend the Law of Return “according to halacha” within the four-month period promised in the coalition negotiations. He threatened that Agudat Israel might bolt the coalition if the agreement was not fulfilled, adding that the final decision would be made by the Council of Torah Sages.
Shapiro continued: “We reject the slanderous accusations made by some that Agudat Israel is involved in religious coercion or is attempting to transform Israel into a Khomeini state. We are merely trying to reclaim our rights as citizens and taxpayers, not to be treated as second-class citizens. The religious issues we address are consistent with the Jewish character of the state, based on the tacit understanding between the Zionist founders and the religious community in Israel.”
DECRIES ROLE OF REFORM, CONSERVATIVE JUDAISM
Rabbi Moshe Sherer, president of Agudath Israel of America and chairman of its world organization, decried the “new stance of militancy and belligerency of the Reform and Conservative leadership against Orthodox Judaism,” which he claimed is the result of Agudath Israel’s insistence that only halacha be accepted in Israel on religious issues.
He charged that the Reform and Conservative leaders are “seeking to influence Jewish Federations throughout the country to use the club of implied withholding financial aid to Israel to beat the Israeli government into submission to accept the concept of religious pluralism in the Holy Land.” Sherer declared that Agudath Israel will launch a counter-offensive to “halt the infiltration into Israel of ‘synthetic Judaism’ which has to its ‘credit’ the spiritual genocide rampant in the United States.”
One of the resolutions adopted at the three-day convention called on Jewish relief organizations not to bow to pressure from the Jewish Agency and to continue assisting Soviet Jews regardless of where they choose to settle after leaving the Soviet Union. Another resolution called upon President Reagan to continue to demonstrate concern for Israel’s defense and economic needs.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.