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Jewish Representatives Call for Halt to Nuclear Arms Race

May 11, 1982
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An increasing number of Jewish representatives are calling for a halt to the nuclear arms race through a freeze on nuclear weapons by the United States and the Soviet Union.

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Philadelphia, at a recent meeting of its Board of Directors, adopted a resolution which stated: “No issue threatens our existence as Jews, Americans and world citizens more than the spector of nuclear warfare. For the Jewish community, discussion of a ‘nuclear holocaust’ is more than a metaphor. Our history teaches us that man is capable of perpetrating unspeakable acts and, further, that silence in the face of inhumanity is equivalent to complicity in that injustice.”

In a related action, more than 100 religious and secular Jewish leaders, including dozens of rabbis, three members of Congress, four Nobel Prize winners and leaders of Jewish organizations have signed a “Shalom Aleichem” statement urging all American Jews to address the issue of thermonuclear world disaster and the need for controlling and reversing the arms race.

The statement, was initiated by the editorial board of Menorah, a monthly journal “of Jewish renewal” that is published in Washington, D.C. and is edited by Arthur Waskow, said:

“At a time when tensions between the great world powers are growing and language of ‘controlled nuclear war’ is reviving, we believe Jewish tradition and experience have much to teach… We suggest that synagogues and other Jewish institutions hold teach-ins, develop special liturgies, invite artists to develop works of awakening… We can help to reawaken hope and change, in an area of public policy now mired in hopelessness and helplessness.”


Among the signers are Rabbi Walter Wurzburger, president of the Synagogue Council of America; Rabbi Alexander Schindler, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations; Rabbi Robert Gordis, editor of Judaism; Ira Silverman, president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College; Rabbi Arthur Lelyveld, a former president of the American Jewish Congress; and Philip Klutznick, honorary president of B’nai B’rith International and a former president of the World Jewish Congress.

Scientists and scholars who signed the statement include Jerome Wiesner of MIT, who was science advisor to President John Kennedy; and Nobel laureates George Wald of Harvard University; Howard Temin of the University of Wisconsin; Marshall Nirenberg of the National Institutes of Health; and Sheldon Glashow of Harvard University.

Late last month the first Jewish religious conference in New York City was held to deal with the problem of “the threat of nuclear war.” It was sponsored by 10 Reform Jewish congregations of New York and was convened at the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue.

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