The American Jewish Congress is a nationwide membership organization of American Jews dedicated to the protecting of the religious, civil and political rights of Jews and to the promotion of American constitutional and democratic principles. Acting principally through its Commission on Law and Social Action, the American Jewish Congress is especially active in lobbying and litigating in the delicate and extremely important field of the separation of state and religion.
The American Jewish Congress has supported and continues to support efforts to preserve the memory of the Holocaust and to assure that its lessons are not forgotten. The Holocaust was an overwhelming event, and we commend the California Legislature for seeking appropriate means to perpetuate and deepen public understanding of that tragedy. We believe, however, that the implications of that event are so manifold and the need for fashioning an effective response so challenging that the Legislature should consider a wide range of possibilities before commiting public funds of the magnitude sought by the Simon Wiesenthal Center through SB 337 to this important task.
We suggest, therefore, that before reaching any final decision the Legislature should consult with the many groups in our state who, like the American Jewish Congress, enthusiastically support the objectives of SB 337 and are eager to ensure that its unique potential for moral instruction is fully realized. SB 337 does not fully explore the alternatives available to the state in publicly memorializing the Holocaust and furthering the principles of tolerance.
For these reasons, the American Jewish Congress opposes the expenditure of public funds set forth in SB 337. If the Legislature desires to commend the efforts of the Wiesenthal Center in establishing a Museum of Tolerance, we urge that it do so by passing a resolution to that effect. Such a resolution would have the full support of the American Jewish Congress.
ALAN S. KATZ
DOUGLAS E. MIRELL
Katz is president and Mirell is vice president of the American Jewish Congress-Southern California Region.