Braille Monitor                                                                  August-September 1985



by Gerald M. Kass
Executive Vice President
Jewish Braille Institute of America, Inc.


Shalom, Greetings from Israel.

As you assemble today in Louisville discussing vital issues affecting the future of blind persons, I send you good wishes and love from the Jewish Braille Institute and myself. I am in Jerusalem, the Capital of Israel, a city in which and from which we learn that all things are possible.

Many come here to the hills of Judea seeking special answers. Moslems revere this ancient city second only to Mecca. Christian pilgrims journey here to visit Bethlehem and walk along the Via Dolorosa to the Shrine of the Holy Sepulcher, the way to the Cross. Jews from around the world pray at the Western Wall of King David's ancient Temple which was liberated in 1967 when, at long last, this historic city was unified.

You today have made an historic pilgrimage to Louisville to enter into deliberations and act upon resolutions which we all pray will take blind people closer to their dreams. You do so in the spirit of Jerusalem, the city that teaches us that there are no impossible dreams but only those goals that have not yet been achieved. To the National Federation of the Blind I transmit the words of Theodor Herzl, the father of modern Zionism, who wrote, prior to the reestablishment of Israel as a nation: "If you will it, it is no dream." It is the will with which the Federation pursues its dreams that distinguishes you.

When visitors who do not understand Zionism come to Israel and ask why the Jewish people have been willing to endure the sacrifices necessary to defend this land, they are taken to a hillside shrine on the outer edge of Jerusalem at which the answer becomes all too clear. It is a memorial to those whom Hitler and the Nazis murdered--six million--including one and a half million children. It is also a documentation center in which the truth of the tragedy is safely kept. They are shown what happens when good people without independence and self-determination trust others with their fate. Certainly, none can better understand this than the blind, and no organization has philosophically accepted this principle with greater fervor than the

National Federation of the Blind. Thus, the messages of Jerusalem and Louisville are the same: dignity, independence, and pride in one's heritage.

Let these be days of wise decision, growing dedication, and devotion to each other, bringing about security and opportunity for blind persons throughout the world in this generation and for generations yet to come.