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Conservative Rabbis Say U.S. Should Recognize ‘selective Conscientious Objection’

March 29, 1968
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Rabbinical Assembly, organization of Conservative rabbis, called on the United States Government today to recognize “selective conscientious objection” — objection to a particular war — as a valid reason for exemption from military duty. The resolution, adopted at the 68th annual convention of the Assembly, noted that the United States “has been a pioneer in absolving religious pacifists from war duty.” But it pointed out that “the war in Vietnam has created a new dilemma. Some men who are not total pacifists do object to serving in Vietnam because they regard that war and service as repugnant to their conscience.” The resolution therefore urged the U.S. Government “to continue its pioneering in matter of conscience with respect to war by recognizing selective conscientious objection in the same way that total conscientious objection has been recognized.” It said that “this will make it possible for the selective conscientious objector to serve his country in a manner other than engaging in direct military duty.”

The resolution declared that “obviously, everyone is obliged to refrain from invoking such objections except on the clearest grounds of conscience and after most serious thought and study. Further, whoever out of conscience refuses to serve his country at this time must be prepared to accept the consequences of his action as established by law.”

Rabbi Ralph Simon of Rodfei Zedek Congregation, Chicago, was inducted as president of the Assembly at the annual banquet last night. Chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, Prof. Louis Finkelstein, delivered the main address.

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