Coming Together to Celebrate 350


June 28, 2005, New York, NY - Celebrate 350: Jewish Life in America, the national organization formed to promote commemoration of the 350th anniversary of the establishment of the first Jewish community in America, today released a Proclamation calling for observance of the anniversary signed by leaders of the four main American Jewish rabbinical associations. The signers represent the Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist movements of American Judaism.

The Proclamation designates "the period from Elul 5764 (September 2004) through Elul 5765 (September 2005) as one of special thanksgiving, prayer, study, reflection and celebration to mark the 350th anniversary of Jewish communal life in America."

It then calls upon "all American Jewry to participate in the observance of this anniversary ..." (The full text of the Proclamation follows this release. The actual signed document is separately attached in PDF format.)

Celebrate 350 initiated and facilitated the development of the Proclamation document much as its predecessor organization did 50 years ago. The joint actions of the four rabbinical associations serve to emphasize the importance of the anniversary and the universal nature of its message.

Robert S. Rifkind, Chairman of Celebrate 350, said, "It is highly significant that the diverse streams of Judaism should find common ground in recognizing the historical importance of this anniversary. This Proclamation captures the feelings of all American Jews as they reflect upon the remarkable saga of Jewish Life in America across three and a half centuries and the unprecedented freedom Jews have enjoyed here."

"This 350th anniversary provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the many ways in which America has transformed Jewish life and, in turn, how American Jewry has contributed significantly to the essential character of this society," said Dr. Gary P. Zola, of the Celebrate 350 Steering Committee and Chair of the congressionally recognized Commission for Commemorating 350 Years of American Jewish History. "Today's joint Proclamation calls on the totality of American Jewry to commemorate this historic milestone."

"Rarely in history has a marriage been more clearly made in heaven than that of America and the Jewish people," said Rabbi Harry K. Danziger, President of The Central Conference of American Rabbis. "We Jews, so often expelled or excluded by other nations, found a home in which our religion and culture could thrive and where we as individuals could fulfill our potential. America was rewarded with the intellectual, social and spiritual enrichment that its Jewish citizens, individually and collectively, have contributed."

Rabbi Perry Raphael Rank, President of The Rabbinical Assembly, said, "The founding fathers gave life to one of the most courageous statements in the Torah: Proclaim liberty throughout the land (Leviticus 25:10). The founding fathers proclaimed it, and the Jews embraced it. It is now up to us to utilize this gift with wisdom and passion. Each and everyday we must choose to be strong Americans and faithful Jews."

Rabbi Brant Rosen, President of The Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, said, "As Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan taught, American Jews have the challenge as well as the opportunity of living in two civilizations simultaneously: the American and the Jewish. The 350th anniversary of Jewish life in North America reminds us of our obligation to participate fully in each of these cultures."

Rabbi Dale Polakoff, President of The Rabbinical Council of America, said "Among the many prayers offered in synagogues across this great country is a prayer for the welfare of these United States and its leaders, in accordance with the dictates of our Oral Tradition (Avos 3:2). May the words of that prayer continue to be answered, as we reflect with gratitude on the safe haven and opportunities we have found in this country established on the principles of religious freedom and tolerance."

For further information, please contact:
David Kalson David.kalson@rfbinder.com or Katherine Kilpatrick katherine.Kilpatrick@rfbinder.com

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