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Non-zionists Rabbis Issue Statement of Principles; Define Attitude to Palestine

August 13, 1942
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A statement of principles by non-Zionist rabbis, declaring that “the Jews should have the democratic right to live freely under law, and in accordance with the dictates of their religious conscience, and in any part of the world,” was made public here today by Dr. Douis Wolsey. The statement, which carries the signatures of eighty-seven Reform rabbis, follows:

“We, Rabbis in American Israel, who believe in the universalism of Judaism’s ethical and spiritual teachings, express our hearty agreement with the following Statement drawn up by those who convened in Atlantic City, June 1 and 2, 1942, for the purpose of giving voice to our convictions and to discuss ways and means of securing wider recognition and appreciation of them among our neighbors.

“The special reason for our gathering is in the growing secularism in American life, the absorption of large numbers in nationalistic endeavors and the tendency to reduce the religious basis of life to a place of secondary importance. At this time more than ever, all men for their own good and the good of mankind should give every emphasis to those moral and religious values and principles that transcend boundary lines and hold all men in a common bond of human fellowship.

“1. We believe that the present tragic experiences of mankind abundantly demonstrate that no single people or group can hope to live in freedom and security when their neighbors are in the grip of evil force either as perpetrators or sufferers. We hold, therefore, that the solution of the social, economic and political problems of one people are inextricably bound up with those of others. To this general rule the problems of our Jewish people constitute no exception, though unhappily we Jews are often the first victims of the distemper of peoples and suffer most from the maladjustments of society.

“2. We declare our unwavering faith in the humane and righteous principles that underlie the democratic way of life, principles first envisaged by the Prophets of Israel and embodied in our American Bill of Rights. In keeping with these principles we hold that the Jewish people have the same right to live securely anywhere in the world and to enjoy the fruit of their labors in peace as have men of every other faith and historic background.

“3. Realizing how important Palestinian rehabilitation is towards relieving the pressing problems of our distressed people, we stand ready to render unstinted aid to our brethren in their economic, cultural and spiritual endeavors in that country. But in the light of our universalistic interpretation of Jewish history and destiny, and also because of our concerns for the welfare and status of the Jewish people living in other parts of the world, we are unable to subscribe to or support the political emphasis now paramount in the Zionist program. We cannot but believe that Jewish nationalism tends to confuse our fellowmen about our place and function in society and also diverts our own attention from our historic role to live as a religious community. Such spiritual role is especially voiced by Reform Judaism in its emphasis upon the eternal prophetic principles of life and thought.

“It is incumbent, therefore, upon all of us, Jews and non-Jews alike, to stress to the utmost those teachings of our own religion that are all-inclusive, if we would permanently correct the evils that so often bring suffering to mankind. Reform Judaism, as we conceive it, is the contemporary manifestation of the eternal prophetic spirit of Israel, through which alone Judaism and the Jew live to witness to the universal God.”

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