Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Synagogue Council of America Opposes Nuclear Arms Race

February 28, 1983
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Synagogue Council of America has appealed to the governments of the United States and the Soviet Union to agree to a bilateral, mutually verifiable total cessation of the manufacture and deployment of nuclear weapons.

In a statement adopted last week, the Council also called on President Reagan and Congress to press vigorously to achieve “effective non-proliferation treaties and to stop the transfer of nuclear arms technology to other nations.”

Rabbi Walter Wurzburger, president of the Synagogue Council, stressed that this statement was not meant to imply an endorsement of numerous proposals for a nuclear freeze. Various Jewish organizations, both religious and secular, have made statement in recent years calling for a bilateral halt of nuclear arms technology, but the Synagogue Council’s statement is the first nationwide unified declaration on the issue from the major rabbinical and congregational organizations. The Council represents the rabbinical and synagogue agencies of Reform, Orthodox and Conservative Judaism.

Wurtzburger said the Council’s statement will enable the organization “to marshall its resources and to mobilize the Jewish religious community in an effort to prevent mankind from drifting into a nuclear holocaust.” Rabbi Irwin Groner of Southfield, Mich., chairman of the Council’s domestic affairs committee, said that the “unanimous declaration puts the Jewish community on record as being deeply committed to joining all responsible efforts to avert the threat of nuclear war.”


The declaration on the dangers of nuclear arm stated, in part; “As Jews, we are most deeply concerned with the ominous threat which nuclear arms race poses to the survival of humanity We are survivors of Hitler’s Holocaust and experience a special sense of responsibility to raise our voices against the drift into a nuclear holocaust. At a time when the superpowers possess strength enough to wipe humankind off the earth, it is the height of folly to develop ever deadlier weapons in a futile search for spurious security.

“It is our sacred duty not to allow familiarity with the nuclear threat to lead to indifference toward the ever increasing dangers of a nuclear war either by design or by accident. It is our religious duty to speak out when humankind’s survival is at stake. We must raise our voices against those experts who believe the myth that a nuclear war is winnable. Time is running out. We must convey our sense of urgency concerning the need to help bring about a mutual reduction of nuclear arms and stock piles.

“While it is true that unilateral disarmament would only invite nuclear blackmail or outright aggression, mutually agreed upon bilateral disarmament and reduction programs would represent a step towards the prospect of peace.”

The Synagogue Council also issued a resolution calling for the Jewish community to be educated “about the perils of nuclear proliferation in keeping with the teachings of Judaism which stress the pursuit of peace; and (to) sensitize the Jewish community to a recognition that indifference is a fatal mistake leading to world destruction. ” The resolution also stated that the Jewish community should “declare itself morally bound to participate in the struggle against proliferation and to commit itself to join with others in working towards eliminating the threat of nuclear war for the sake of all humankind.”

Recommended from JTA