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Religious, Spiritual Heritage of Jews is Key to Jewish Survival

November 24, 1978
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“The religious and spiritual heritage of the Jewish people” is still “the key to Jewish survival” as it was “through 2000 years of exile,” Harold M. Jacobs, outgoing president of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations (UOJCA) of America stated in remarks prepared for delivery tonight to 1000 lay and rabbinic leaders attending the UOJCA’s biennial convention here.

According to Jacobs, who is chairman of the Board of Higher Education of New York City, “Political Zionism and the Hebrew language are no longer cementing forces creating binding ties between the State of Israel and the American Jewish community. Neither tourism, philanthropy nor investments will bring the two communities closer together,” he said. “Only our eternal religious heritage and tradition offer the most powerful ties for uniting the spiritual and ethnic destinies of Jews throughout the world to Israel.”

Jacobs praised Premier Menachem Begin for “unabashedly giving expression to the spiritual roots of Israel’s national existence and stressing the religious connection between the people of Israel and the land of Israel.” He claimed that “Begin has once again proven his flexibility and statesmanship in search of peace.” He said that “if pressure is to be applied now by the United States it must be used to prevail upon Egypt to accept the peace treaty which it freely negotiated with Israel just a few weeks ago.”

Addressing an earlier session of the convention, Rep. Jack Kemp (R. NY) urged continued restrictions on U.S. trade with the Soviet Union until Russia’s treatment of its Jewish citizens improved. “Congress must not weaken nor repeal the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, not only in the interests of Soviet Jews, but in the interest of Soviet-American relations,” Kemp said. “The only way in which we can have true detente with the Soviets is when they are encouraged to democratize their political system,” he said.

According to Ronald Greenwald, convention chairman who has been active on behalf of the release of imprisoned Jews all over the world, “the liberation of oppressed Jews must remain one of the American Jewish community’s first priorities in the decade ahead.”


Julius Berman, of Forest Hills, N.Y., was elected president of the UOJCA, succeeding Jacobs, who was elected chairman of the organization’s board of directors. Berman, a graduate of Yeshiva University, has served as a national officer of the UOJCA since 1966 and is a past president of the National Jewish Commission on Law and Public Affairs (COLPA).

He is a member of a Manhattan law firm and is currently a trustee of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York, and a member of its executive committee. He is the chairman of the UOJCA’s delegation to the New York Jewish Community Relations Council, and a member of its executive committee. He has served as the head of the UOJCA’s delegation to the Synagogue Council of America, and is a member of that organization’s executive committee. Berman currently serves as Secretary of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency Board.

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