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National Community Security Council to Protect Rights of Threatened Jewish Communities in Formation

December 9, 1971
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Plans to create a National Community Security Council, to protect “the rights” of threatened Jewish communities have evoked a “remarkable” response, Rabbi Wolfe Kelman, executive vice-president of the Rabbinical Assembly said today. He is one of the organizers of the new agency which has elected as its first president Dr. Seymour Siegel, a faculty member at the Jewish Theological Seminary, the Conservative school.

Rabbi Kelman said that a “statement of principles” for the new organization had been mailed to several hundred Jewish leaders, including members of the Reform and Conservative rabbinate, lay people, government officials and academicians. The statement said that the organizers had become convinced that “efforts must be expended to preserve neighborhoods and voluntary ethnic and religious associations.” When a neighborhood faces a threat, “it stands alone. We intend to form a network of communities so that when one locality needs help, it can call upon the resources of all.”

The statement asserted that communities, both Jewish and non-Jewish “are threatened by disintegration through careless social engineering, lack of consideration for neighborhood associations, inadequate communal institutions and the failure to consult the residents of the communities most directly affected.” Rabbi Kelman agreed that such a description was in line with complaints of the predominantly Jewish population of Forest Hills against New York City plans to build an 840-unit low-income housing project in that area. But, he added, the new group had not taken a stand on the Forest Hills project.


Continuing, the statement proclaimed that “we feel it therefore necessary to mobilize all who are concerned to express their concern through political action and educational efforts. Though we are primarily concerned for Jewish communities, we recognize that the problems besetting Jews are not unique. They are shared by our fellow citizens who are concerned about their ethnic roots and community solidarity. “Rabbi Kelman said the “we” in the statement included himself, Dr. Siegel, and David Sidorsky, a Columbia University philosophy professor active in Jewish affairs.

The statement said the Community Security Council would act “to preserve the interests of communities” by “responsibly” calling its principles to “the attention of legislators and city officials and others who make the decisions which affect the way we live together.” Rabbi Kelman stressed the new Community Security Council was not meant to be in competition with any existing Jewish groups but rather to meet a need which the initial sponsors felt was not being met.

When Jewish tensions and crises arise in a community, the new organization will help to let the affected Jews know that it is not a local problem and that he can count on action to alert political figures and influential individuals, acting through the new organization, to express concern to the appropriate government officials, it was explained.

Rabbi Kelman said that once replies have been received to the group’s first mailing, a meeting will be held to proceed with formation of a formal structure, including all needed officers and the development of a permanent program. He said the new group will be a Jewish version of Common Cause, the people’s lobby organized by John Gardner.

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