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Golda Meir Chides Leaders for Saying U.S. Jews Will Not Come to Israel

August 12, 1964
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Mrs. Golda Meir, Israel’s Foreign Minister, last night chided American Jewish leaders for propagating among the Jewish youth the idea that American Jews will not emigrate to Israel. “By preaching that American Jews will not come,” she said, addressing the annual America-Israel “dialogue” conducted here by the American Jewish Congress, “you are educating the young generation to believe it.”

More than 700 persons attended the opening meeting of the “dialogue,” held in the Hebrew University auditorium. In her address, Mrs. Meir referred to a statement made at the opening session by Dr. Joachim Prinz, president of the AJC, that there would be little emigration from the United States to Israel.

“One of the greatest tragedies of present Jewish life,” she said, “is that Israel has failed to attract any considerable number of Jews from the free world.” Noting that Dr. Prinz had said “we must face reality that there will be no transfer of American Jewry to Israel,” the Foreign Minister stated she realized that American Jews were not coming here in masses, but she affirmed she could not understand “the instinctive recoil whenever aliyah is mentioned.”

Dr. Prinz said that Mrs. Meir’s words “left me in a state of depression because I fully agree with criticism regarding American Jewry. It is the greatest tragedy in my life that I did not come to Israel (instead of to the United States). But taking the floor again, Mrs. Meir declared: “I cannot accept this surrender. Zionism was born as a revolt against reality.”

Dr. Prinz, in his address, warned Israel’s religious authorities that they cannot disregard the variety of Jewish religious life that has developed outside Israel. He cautioned that the idea of immigration to Israel would be “meaningless, unless the teachings of the rabbis outside Israel” were respected. “Since aliyah also means the transfer of families in a Jewish context,” he said, “the authenticity of their Jewish way of life, including marriage and divorce, must be accepted.”

Dr. Prinz, who is a rabbi in Newark, N.J., stressed the “mutual recognition and respect” accorded one another by the American Orthodox, Conservative and Reform branches of Judaism. “Even the most Orthodox circles in the United States,” he declared, “understand now that ritual observance alone cannot define Judaism.” He told the “dialogue” participants that Judaism must not shrink from participation in the solution of such problems as racial injustice and poverty.”

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