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‘fear of Jewish Continuity is the Real Issue,’ Scholar Tells 1,000 Communal Leaders at Jwb Conventio

April 26, 1984
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“Jewish survival is not the issue. The meaning of Jewish survival is the issue,” according to Prof. David Hartman of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in remarks prepared for delivery tomorrow at the JWB biennial convention at the Sheraton Boston. Some 1,000 communal leaders are scheduled to attend the conclave.

Hartman, the scholar-in-residence at the convention, says in his prepared remarks to be delivered to the opening plenary session, “The task of leadership is to develop a vision which enables Jewish continuity to be a vital framework of Jewish communal life. The Jewish community center can be a true mediator of the renaissance of the Jewish people.”

Hartman notes that community centers “must mediate the vital pluralistic spiritual tensions in contemporary Jewish history. In this way, they would reflect the vitality of the ideological conflicts present in contemporary Israel. The center must mediate Israel as a living reality and not Israel as a crisis reality. Israel is an invitation for Jewish aspiration and not only an answer to Jewish fear for survival.”


Dealing with the issue of particularism vs. universalism, Hartman says, “Particularism and the dignity of being different is a necessary condition for a vital and new world. Universalism, which seeks to obliterate differences, leads to totalitarianism and murder under the guise of justice and love.”

Hartman, who is also the director of the Shalom Hartman Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, states. “Jewish leadership must reflect the spirit of Jewish history. We cannot go forward unless we start together from the spirit of the Sinai covenant. Nothing in Jewish history must be alien to the soul of a Jewish leader.”

Hundreds of Jewish communal leaders from throughout the U.S., Canada, Israel, England, Argentina and Belgium, as well as U.S. Jewish military and VA chaplains and lay leaders, will gather for the five-day event to exchange ideas, to discuss crucial concerns facing the Jewish community, to engage in experiential exercises, and to hear other major speakers.

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