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October 02, 1987 - Image 2

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-10-02

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Yom Kippur's Human Message For The Ages

PHILIP SLOMOVITZ

Editor Emeritus

om Kippur keeps sending
forth its message of universal-
ity, its continuing and un-
changing call for a human devotion
that embraces it. Its call for an end to
wickedness is the prophetic command
that the hungry be fed, the aged cared
for, indifference to human want be
erased.
Perhaps this is the message so
urgently compelling for lawmakers of
our time whose budgetary manipula-
tions often forget the person condemn-

y

ed to the slums, the aged suffering
from rejection, the children treated
with blindness when they are in great
need of a modicum of attention.
The needs are summarized in the
historic Yom Kippur message in the
Haftorah recited at the morning ser-
vice of the Day of Atonement. It is in
Chapter 58 of Isaiah in which the Pro-
phet proclaimed the needs and calling
for succor, demanding:

No, this is the fast I desire:
To unlock the fetters of
wickedness,
And untie the cords of the yoke
To let the oppressed go free;

To break off every yoke.
It is to share your bread with
the hungry,
And to take the wretched poor
into your home;
When you see the naked, to
clothe him,
And not to ignore your own kin.
Then shall your light burst
through like the dawn
And your healing spring up
quickly;
Your Vindicator shall march
before you,
The Presence of the LORD shall
be your rear guard.
Isaiah 58:6-8

The message is clear and un-
mistaken. It is framed for mankind
and is the unmistakable theme of the
great fast day. It is one of the roots of
the Jewish gift to mankind.
Therefore the treatment of it as
such an historic legacy from the Peo-
ple Israel to the totality of mankind.
That is why the piety and devotion
with which it is continually proclaim-
ed makes it the inerasable message of
the Jew, as the historic heritage from
the Prophets. The Jewish worshipper
rises to great heights when the
historic message is reiterated on the
day of the great fast.

A Suggested Speech For Presidential Candidates

M

any candidates are already at
hand, and the presidential
election is not far off.
Therefore, even for the wisest of them
there are always unlimited suggestions
and there are advice-givers.
When one bit of advice makes one
of the most important newspapers in
the land, it merits being considered top
ranking in media value. When the pro-
posals are Jewish-angled and the
advice-giver has a major role in Jewish
civic libertarian ranks, the presidential
candidates can't ignore them.
The assistance offered candidates
for the presidency is provided by an
authoritative Jewish community of-
ficial. Hyman Bookbinder, who
represents the American Jewish Com-
mittee in Washington, received a by-
line in the Washington Post opinion sec-
tion for his article that was entitled "A
Speech Jewish Voters Want to Hear."
Since it is adapted from the Jewish
magazine Moment, the reader can
assume that its ideas could be judged
as meriting general endorsement.
The Bookbinder ideas may ignite
some criticism. In view of the
acknowleged American supportive posi-
tion on Israel, there is more of the com-
mendable than possibly criticized in the
text suggested for political candidates.
There is an introductory note to the ar-
ticle that needs being taken into ac-
count. Bookbinder asserts:
"Alas, no presidential aspirant has
asked me to draft a speech to deliver to
a Jewish audience. Nonetheless, since
I know what I would say — at least
what I would like to hear — I offer it
here as a public service, pro bono, free
to all candidates. The one who delivers
the best version of this speech gets my
vote! I can't guarantee any others!"
Based on past experiences, knowing
that every responsible candidate will
endorse the American position on
Israel, there is ground to believe that
the author of this suggested speech will
have a difficult time choosing the nar-
rator of "the best version!' The only way
to test this judgment is to read a por-
tion of the speech. Bookbinder com-
mences his noteworthy text:
Fellow Americans: There is

2

FRIDAY, OCT. 2, 1987

Hyman Bookbinder

no group of Americans whose
support would please me more
than that of the Jewish com-
munity. Jewish support would
indeed be gratifying because it
would come from perhaps the
most politically sophisticated
group in America today.
The Jewish community, of
course, is not monolithic, and it
has been — correctly, in my judg-
ment — nonpartisan. But I
would be proud to be worthy of
your votes. I would be proud to
have your support because the
Jewish community practices
what your great sage Hillel
preached about being for
yourselves, but not only for
yourselves. Throughout my
political career I have observed
your effective work not only on
behalf of so-called "Jewish"
issues, but also on a wide range
of public policies to make this a
better nation for all our people.
Because you are not a
monolithic community, I cannot
and do not expect to win the
support of all Jewish voters. But
there are some issues on which
there is indeed a very broad

Jewish consensus. They are of
the highest priority to Jewish
voters, but not only to Jewish
voters. Even the most super-
ficial understanding of Jewish
history should make it clear
why the security of Israel and
the right of Soviet Jews to
emigrate should be of such over-
riding concern to American
Jews. Sensitivity to these con-
cerns should indeed be a prere-
quisite for receiving support of
Jewish voters.
But it is not sufficient for a
candidate to voice agreement
with current Jewish policies in
these two areas. A president of
the United States must feel
strongly — and be able to help
all Americans understand —
that the security of Israel and
the right of Soviet Jews to
emigrate are issues that go to
the essence of America's basic
commitments to a democratic,
peaceful world. To be "pro-
Israel" and "pro-Soviet Jewry"
is to be pro-American and
pro-democracy.
As president, I will consider
it my duty to help Americans
understand why, despite occa-
sional differences and dif-
ficulties, the U.S.-Israel "special
relationship" has had such im-
pressive support from every ad-
ministration, from every Con-
gress and from the American
people, since the modern state of
Israel was created in 1948. This
support is based not only on the
basic moral consideration that
Israel's right to exist flows from
her history and her commitment
to democracy, but also on the
value to our own national in-
terest in having a reliable
democratic ally in that critical
part of the world.
My commitment to Israel's
security is unshakable. But so is
my determination to seek out
Arab leaders and Arab nations
who can prove their commit-
ment to peace with Israel.

America can and should always
be ready to repeat the construc-
tive role it played in the Camp
David process. If elected, I will
not permit the peace process to
wither. It is, of course, ultimate-
ly the responsibility of the par-
ties directly involved to make
the peace, but America can help,
and my administration will help.
I cannot guarantee that every
step we take will fully please the
Israelis or the Arabs, but I will
never knowingly take any step
— in the diplomatic area, in the
sales of arms, in the United Na-
tions — that would add to the
ever-present security concerns
of our faithful ally, Israel.
As president, I would use
every possible avenue for per-
suading the Kremlin leadership
to stop the harassment of Soviet
Jews and let those who wish to
do so leave for Israel or the
United States or wherever they
choose. I will insist that Soviet
failure to live up to their com-
mitments in the Helsinki ac-
cords makes it impossible to ac-
cept promises they might make
in connection with the bilateral
agreements they seek, especial-
ly in the disarmament field.
The greatest challenge to
American foreign policy is to
make the soundest possible
assessment of what may be
portentous changes in the
Soviet Union, and to respond
responsibly. While we hope that
such changes will indeed
materialize — changes that
might suggest abandonment of
aggressive and oppressive
Soviet policies — we dare not
prematurely ease up on our
defenses against the Soviet
threat. No area of foreign policy
will call for more of the non-
partisan consultations and
sharing of responsibilities I
have called for.
Circumstances may make
necessary, from time to time,

Continued on Page 30

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