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Conference of Conservative Jewish Movement in Europe Closes in Paris

July 20, 1961
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A Hebrew University professor from Jerusalem, one of the leading educators in Israel, today upbraided both Israeli Jewry and Jews in the Diaspora for “short-sighted approaches” to the basic values essential to Jewish survival. Addressing the closing session of the European Study Conference, conducted here under the auspices of the World Council of Synagogues, Dr. Ernst Akibah Simon, professor of education at the Hebrew University, told the lay and rabbinic representatives from 16 countries:

“There is a tendency in Israel to call the State a Tight for the people.’ This is the wrong kind of talk, a rhetorical phrase that does much harm. If there is a chance for the Jewish State to come nearer this goal, it should not be anticipated.

“On the other hand, it is wrong for the Jews of the Diaspora to think in terms of unconditional surrender’s to all that Israel does, right or wrong. Many who call themselves ‘good Zionists’ in the Diaspora have a double standard. They fight for the minimal rights for all peoples–which is right. But they are silent about the same questions in Israel. A true inter-relationship must be achieved between Israeli Jewry and Jewries in the Diaspora. Neither must be exclusively either the giver or the receiver.”

The European Study Conference has been attended by representatives from 13 European countries and by observers from Israel, Argentina and the United States. Today, the conference was closed with solemn ceremonies at the Tomb for the Six Million, the monument here to the Jewish martyrs who died during the Nazi holocaust. Rabbi Bernard Segal, executive director of the United Synagogue of America, the Conservative denomination’s largest component in the World Council, delivered the commemorative address during the ceremonies.

Rabbi Segal recalled the fact that, while many of the dead “accepted their fate without resistance in the tradition of the ancient Jewish martyrs,” others “fought back in the spirit of Israel and the spirit of Jewry’s ancient and modern heroes.” He pointed out that both traditions have contributed to world heroism, citing Jewish traditional influences on liberation movements like those headed by the late Mahatma Gandhi in India and by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., in the United States, today. “Both, ” he said, “are followers of the ancient Jewish tradition.”

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