"Whatever will be, will be, but we shall live."
The words of quiet determination came from the black box that sat beside the pulpit at Adas Israel Synagogue yesterday - words spoken from that pulpit nine years ago by Golda Meir and replayed yesterday as part of the memorial to the former Israeli prime minister.
Rabbi Stanley Rabinowitz explained to the nearly 800 people who had come to pay tribute to Mrs. Meir that she had worshiped at the synagogue in 1969 while in Washington on an official visit. Her visit had concided with the bar mitzvah of one of the youths of the congregation and she had been invited to say a few words, which the synagogue had recorded.
"The Jewish people can be led to the gas chambers," the recorded voice continued. "They destroyed their minds and their bodies, but never their spirit . . . We always have faith, always believe.
"They may destroy us physically but the spirit remains. They never succeeded in uprooting the faith."
Outgoing Mayor Walter Washington and Mrs. Washington sat yesterday in the front row of the massive auditorium. Mayor-elect Marion Barry was represented by John Ray of the transition task force.
Diplomatic corps members at the memorial service, which was sponsored by the Israeli Embassy, included British Ambassador Peter Jay and Wendelgard von Staden, wife of the German ambassador, who was out of the country.
Rabbis from all three branches of Judaism - Reform Orthodox and Conservative - took turns leading the simple service. Rabbi Joshua Haberman led the congregation in a responsive reading of the prophet Micah's vision of a time when nations "shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning forks."
Rabbi Bertram Leff of Beff Shalom read from the book of Ezekiel and Rabbi Rabinowitz led the congregation in the Kadish, the ancient prayer of mourning.
Hanan Bar-On, charge d'affaires of the Israeli Embassy, paid tribute to Mrs. Meir, whom he called "an idealist with an enormous sense of reality."
Her life was marked by "two passions," he said: The development of Israel as a secure Jewish state, and a passion for "a just society" based on the conviction that "all men are born equal. It is difficult to know which one came first."