Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Orthodox Group Asks Soviets to Permit More Jewish Religious Leaders to Visit U.S.

June 26, 1968
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The head of the largest Orthodox rabbinical group in the Western Hemisphere appealed today to the Soviet Union to permit Jewish religious leaders to visit the United States to establish a closer relationship and build a bridge of understanding between the Soviet and American Jewish communities.

The plea was made by Rabbi Pesach Levovitz of Lakewood, N.J., president of the Rabbinical Council of America in the presence of Rabbi Yehuda Leib Levin of Moscow. Rabbi Levin received a rousing ovation from the 500 rabbinical delegates as he entered the convention site. The Orthodox rabbinical group is holding its 32nd annual convention.

Rabbi Levin warmly acknowledged Hebrew greetings of the welcome extended to him and heard Rabbi Levovitz assert that “we fervently hope that his visit will result in the achievement of a closer relationship between the two largest Jewish communities in the world.” Leaders of the Rabbinical Council characterized Rabbi Levin’s visit as “a major breakthrough.” In this connection the Orthodox leaders said it was the first time in the past 50 years that Orthodox Jewish leaders had been permitted to come to the U.S. They added that Rabbi Levin was “a living symbol of Russian Jewry.”

In a brief talk, Rabbi Levin praised the American Jewish community for building Jewish culture and religious institutions and for placing emphasis on instilling a love for the Torah in Jewish homes. Specifically, he praised Jewish mothers for giving their children traditional Jewish education.

The luncheon session was addressed by the Israeli Ambassador, Gen. Yitzhak Rabin, who said “Israel is capable of holding on to won territory 10, 15 and even 20 years. We will hold it until the Arabs are ready to negotiate.” Gen. Rabin added that it was not a question of “our loving our new territory, as even some nations friendly to us have ascribed, but rather and simply a question of Israel’s security. The territory is Israel’s big bargaining point.”

Gen. Rabin firmly declared that Israel wanted a real peace. The time element, he added, was up to the Arabs, as was the duration of Israel’s holding the occupied territory.

Recommended from JTA