Following are excerpts from Yom Kippur sermons given yesterday and Sunday by rabbis in the Washington area. The excerpts were taken from a number of prepared texts made available to The Washington Post.
A. Nathan Abramowitz, Tifereth Israel Congregation, Washington:
Today is Yom Kippur, our holiest day of the year. Although I am always concerned when I speak to you and especially on Yom Kippur, today is different. And I stand here with great trepidation, after days and nights, weeks and months of agonizing and after receiving many of your calls and letters. The issues are basic to the very survival of Israel and the Jewish people . . . .
Israeli action should be described not as an invasion of Lebanon but the liberation of Lebanon. Israeli success created a whole new situation in the Mideast and provided a new and wonderful opportunity for Lebanon to reassert itself as an independent country . . . .
Even if Israel's entrance into Lebanon was required and even if that has been a great gain for Israel, for Lebanon, for the U.S., and for peace, we are anguished over the staggering cost in dollars, in image, and in blood . . . .
And now we are anguished over last week's atrocities in the two camps of West Beirut. It is not that we Jews are divided over it, it is that every Jew within himself is divided over it.
. . . . However painful it is, we must conclude that even if the Begin government accomplished Camp David and brought us peace in Egypt and an important and honorable withdrawal from Sinai and even if Begin and Sharon accomplished a stunning military victory in Lebanon and the expulsion of the PLO, they are now people under whose leadership the most serious divisions have emerged within Israel herself, within the Israeli army and within the leadership of world Jewry, and affecting relations between Israel and her only ally, the United States.
It seems to me therefore for the good of Israel and all who love Israel, that Begin and Sharon should now let the mantle of leadership pass on to others whose tasks are both to bind up the wounds and to reestablish confidence in the policies of the government of Israel, within Israel, within Jewry and within the United States government as well.
. . . . in any event our overall relationship to and support for Israel must not waver. In fact, it needs to be increased.
Tzvi Porath, Ohr Kodesh Congregation, Chevy Chase:
As we meet tonight, I know we are troubled by the action in Lebanon. The massacres perpetrated by the Lebanese Christians in West Beirut fill our hearts with revulsion and deep sorrow.
We are all horrified by innocent blood that was spilled in an act of vengeance. We are a people that has preached to the world standards for behavior, even in wars. We were truly shaken and shocked when we became aware that Jews may have had some responsibility for this. We have high expectations of moral standards and when there are human failings we become disillusioned . . . .
With all these feelings being expressed we should have an open mind about what has happened. But let us not join those who escalate the rhetoric, who "compare this with the Holocaust and regard Arafat as a boy scout."
Why is it when Christians kill Moslems who kill Christians, the world denounces the Jew--who at the very worst has been only indirectly involved?
Rabbi Bertram A. Leff, Beth Sholom Congregation, Washington:
. . . I hope that the internal investigation with which Prime Minister Begin has consented will discover the absolute truth and that the good name of Israel, as the bulwark of Jewish morality, will be uplifted.
I have faith that when the air is cleared, the facts will show that at the most there may have been a misjudgment. And for this misjudgment, on this day of forgiveness we ask "please forgive us."
This act of Jewish morality is a thousand times more than the world has shown as six million of our martyred dead went to their graves during the Holocaust or as thousands of Lebanese went to their deaths in the space of seven years of PLO domination.
Rabbi Joshua Haberman, Washington Hebrew Congregation:
. . . The eradication of resentment tops the agenda of Yom Kippur. If Lebanon, or for that matter the Arabs and Israelis, are ever to see peace, the deep resentments accumulated by all parties to the conflict must be overcome.
. . . .We have suffered great hurt at the hands of the Arabs but they have not remained unhurt either. Both sides have much to forgive and have much to gain by their mutual forgiveness. No Jew must ever deny the possibility of a complete moral turnabout of even the worst offender.
. . . Would that the massacre in Beirut arouse to the fullest the moral revulsion of Moslems, Christians and Jews so that all of them, sick of war and killing, come face to face in the job of peace making. Would that Moslems, Christians and Jews, true to their own most sacred beliefs, finally follow the voice of morality rather than bankrupt and self-defeating political maneuvering . . . .