Seminary Students and the Draft
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Seminary Students and the Draft

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An advisory letter to officials of Jewish religious schools throughout the United States, urging that they request their students to continue to register for the draft when they become 18, despite a federal court order invalidating the draft registration system, has been distributed by the Orthodox Jewish Coalition on the Selective Service, Rabbi Herman Neuberger, the coalition chairman, disclosed today.

Neuberger said the letter was prompted by the wide spread publicity given to the decision of Judge Terry Hatter in Federal District Court in Los Angeles two weeks ago invalidating the draft registration, holding that it was started illegally.

Hatter ruled that the Selective Service Law requires that all regulations and proclamations announced relative to that law must have a 30-day waiting period before implementation. Legal observers noted, however, that in 1980, the effective date of then President Carter’s proclamation initiating registration was only 21 days from the date of its issuance.

The coalition letter noted that the federal government has appealed Judge Hatter’s decision and that the outcome of the appeal is “impossible to predict.” Moreover, the letter said that the Selective Service System has announced it will continue the registration process during the period of the appeal process and will seek to prosecute young men who do not register.


The coalition letter stressed that registration procedures are simple. A registration card is available at all post offices on which to provide information on the registrant’s name, telephone number, birthdate, Social Security number, permanent address and mailing address.

Neuberger said that, following registration, all registrants are placed in an unclassified status which will continue until the President declares–if and when he does–that an emergency exists requiring mobilization. Should that occur, all registrants would automatically be placed in an eligibility pool and a birthday lottery would then be used to select from those in the pool those who are subject to induction.

Those young men would receive notices to report for induction and instructions on how to file for an exemption deferment. At that point, Neuberger said, the youths would have the opportunity to claim an exemption or a deferment, with such claims required to be filed prior to the date for reporting. Accordingly, the rabbi said, even those young men who would qualify for an exemption or deferment must still register.

This is of particular significance to seminary students, who are exempted by law from military service but the exemption is not automatic. Neuberger said that seminary students must apply for exemption or deferment and cannot do so if they are not registered.

The coalition, an umbrella group of major Orthodox Jewish organizations was established in 1980 to deal with the problems presented to the Orthodox Jewish community by the reintroduction of draft legislation in that year.

(By Ben Gallob)

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