The chief spirtual leader of Reform Judaism has called on American Jews to overlook lesser differences and form "coalitions of decency against the chilling power of the radical right."
Rabbi Alexander M. Schindler, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, linked the rise or rightwing fundamentalist groups such as Moral Majority with what he termed "the most serious outbreak of anti- Semitism in America since the end of World War II.
In addressing the annual meeting of the board of trustees of UAHC, the congregational arm of Reform Judaism, Schindler said: "When the head of the Moral Majority demands a Christian Bil of Rights, when the president of the Southern Baptist Convention tells the Religious Roundtable that 'God Almighty does not hear the prayer of a Jew,' there should be no surprise at reports of synagogues destroyed by arson and Jewish families terrorized in their homes."
The New York rabbi explained that he did not believe Jerry Falwell and other Fundamentalist preachers were deliverately inciting anti-Semitism, but that was their result.
"Jerry Falwell tells us that only one brand of politics is acceptable to God," he said. "Bailey Smith [president of the Southern Baptist Convention] tells us that only one brand of believers is acceptable to God. It is no wonder that those who hold different political views should be branded as 'Satan' and that those sho hold different religious beliefs should become the victims of vandals who respond by attacking synagogues and stoning Jews."
Schindler, who emigrated to this country in his youth from Nazi Germany, counseled American Jews to develop allies in thier battle against hate groups instead of going it alone and running the risk of "polarizing the struggle into a religious war."
In reaching out to other groups, he continued "the Jewish community cannot seek 100 percent idelogical purity . . .
"We will disagree on the Middle East with the National Council of Churches, which only last week issued an unconscionable statement supporting the PLO, but we must work with them on free choice on abortion, on gun control, strategic arms limitation and a host of significant issues," he said.
In a long-debated policy statement on the Middle East, the NCC called upon the Palestine Liberation Organization to recognize Israel's right to exist and upon Israel, in turn, to negotiate with the PLO to resolve problems in the area.
"We will disagree with the Roman Catholic bishops on aborton and birth control, but we will give voice to a common concern on aid to refugees, world, hunger and racial justice," Schindler continued.
"We will disagree with blacks on racial quotas, but we will continue to share avision of a compassionate society and work together in support of national health insurance, youth employment, decent housing, and similar programs," he said.
Schindler called the efforts of the fundamentalist Christian right to shape natinal policy according to their interpretation of the Bible the beginning of "a struggle for the character and the sould of America . . . It is not a battle that Jews alson can win."