"WHEN WE PREVENT THE NEEDLESS LOSS OF LIFE AND STRIVE TO ABOLISH MAN'S INHUMANITY TO MAN, GOD REVEALS HIMSELF ANEW."
High Holiday Prayer Book
As we read this and similar passages in our prayerbooks during these High Holy Days, we see the war in Vietnam in a new and vital way. Each of us is personally responsible for the people who are dying now, American and Vietnamese, whatever their ideology. We cannot begin a new year in good faith with ourselves, our fellow man, or our God, without taking action to end this war.
"Far worse than the fact that barbarities are performed by the Viet Cong is the fact that barbarities are performed by us. If, as Jack Langguth of the New York Times suggests, we can win in Vietnam only by destroying the Vietnamese people, we have not only frustrated our own professed altruistic purpose, but we have paid too high a price for the protection of our own interest."
Rabbi Arthur J. Lelyveld, "Jewish Imperatives and World Peace," Synagogue Council of America, February 1966.
"People ask me who my heroes are. I have only one -- Hitler."
Nguyen Cao Ky, Prime Minister of South Vietnam London Daily Mirror, July 4, 1965
"For the first time since 1918, a democratic power is using gas and the outrage is, if anything, aggravated by the statement that these methods are being used on an 'experimental basis.' Thus the Americans, like Hitler and Mussolini in Spain, are treating the hapless inhabitants of Vietnam as a living laboratory in which to test their weapons."
New Statesman, London, March 26, 1965
"...I know that my own integrity is being slashed in that slaughter. In a free society, all are involved in what some are doing. Some are guilty, all are responsible."
Dr. Abraham J. Heschel, Fellowship, September 1966
We as Jews are outraged at the German people who professed ignorance of the deeds of the Nazis. We condemn those who admit they know but feared to speak out against their government. We cannot profess ignorance. If we fail to act we share the guilt of those Germans whom we refuse to forgive.
"Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience imposed by the individual state."
"If certain acts in violation of treaties are crimes, they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them, and we are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us."
Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson, U. S. Prosecutor, Nuremberg
The war in Vietnam is no longer only a political issue. It is a moral issue. It has become a brutal massacre with no regard for the humanity of its victims. We cannot allow this suffering to continue. We must fulfill our "international duties" to our fellow human beings.
We are not alone. The Central Conference of American Rabbis, over 16,000 clergymen of all faiths, and many other responsible citizens have already placed themselves in opposition to the action of our government in this war. Six thousand professors and professionals have urged a reevaluation of our policy. Student groups of varied political affiliations have played a leading role in presenting the facts to the American public.
We too must learn the facts. We must attend meetings, listen to speakers, read statements. And when we are informed, we must act. We must write letters to the men we have elected to represent us. We must join with our fellow Americans to protest this war.
As members of the Jewish community, we know the consequences of failure to speak out against the persecution of a people. To remain silent is to share the guilt. We must begin this new year with a personal commitment for peace.
"MAY THE SHOFAR INSPIRE US TO STRIVE FOR THE CESSATION OF ALL HATRED, OPPRESSION, AND WAR, AND USHER IN AN ERA OF GOOD WILL AND UNDERSTANDING, MUTUAL HELPFULNESS, AND PEACE THROUGHOUT THE WORLD."
High Holiday Prayer Book
G'MAR CHATIMA TOVA
These individuals and organizations in the Los Angeles area, though differing in their political orientations and their interpretations of the war, share a commitment to peace. They welcome your request for further information, and can help you direct your concern into valuable action toward ending this war.
|Rabbi Leonard I. Beerman||Peace Action Council|
P.O. Box 74881, Los Angeles
|Nathan Hurvitz, Ph.D.||UCLA Vietnam Day Committee|
P.O. Box 490, Los Angeles 90024
|Professor Donald Kalish|
* UCLA, Dept. of Philosophy
|Veterans for Peace|
308 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, 90024
|Rabbi Richard N. Levy|
|Rabbi Albert M. Lewis||Westside Committee of Concern of Vietnam|
1440 Harvard Street, Santa Monica
|Isadore Ziferstein, M.D.|
* Research Psychiatrist
Mt. Sinai Hospital
*- Affiliation for identification only
The above text appeared in typescript form on a leaflet prepared by the Hurvitz family in Los Angeles, CA and distributed at a number of synagogs around Los Angeles following services at the end of Yom Kippur (1966). The original leaflet was printed on white 11/14" paper. I have (for the sake of verisimilitude) maintained as much of the "look and feel" of the original leaflet in this HTML conversion.
Last Updated January 16, 1998
© Mark Hurvitz