Region II Council For Mental Retardation
April 3, 1980

Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
Jewish Press
338 - 3rd Avenue
Brooklyn, N.Y. 11215

Dear Rabbi Butman:

The reason I've waited this long to send you the enclosed material including the exchange of letters between Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson and myself is twofold: (a) only recently received Rabbi Schneerson's letter - dated 13 Tishrei - which gives me permission to disseminate his correspondence; and, (b). just received the minutes from Rabbi Isaac N. Trainin (Federation of Jewish Philanthropies) which documents Federation’s decision to sponsor a major conference vis vis the needs of the Jewish retarded and his/her family in October/November 1980.

In some of the letters that I wrote I have underlined these sentences which reflect the essence of my thinking - my way of letting you know what I would like you to emphasize. On the other hand, where I prefer you not to quote me I have put sentences in brackets.

Since Rabbi Schneerson's letter (dated 22 Av, 5739) is, to my knowledge, the only “statement” issued on the subject of retardation by an “outstanding Torah authority,” I would hope that the Jewish Press would give his words prominence the week your column gets published. Perhaps that week the Jewish Press can have an editorial which challenges the practice of testing preschool children for enrollment in Hebrew Day Schools. The paper can also list services (with telephone numbers and names of contact persons)available to families of retarded and developmentally disabled individuals.

In other words, I think our Jewish community has to recognize yes - we want and need Jewish scholars - but, in the final analyses, what counts is that our people care about each other, respect each other, and appreciate each other's contribution irrespective of one's 'intelligence quotient.

This is one issue - the love and care of Jewish handicapped - that can bring all Jews together. I felt very reassured when Rabbi Schneerson in one of his letters explained that with every Divine obligation (mitzvah) there is the capacity to fulfill that obligation. There is no question that we will need not only "funds" but the energy and the will to modify our opinions, to think about issues which we may prefer not to deal with, and to tolerate honest differences of opinion.

I am convinced that if our Jewish community can provide for the education and the well-being of all of our children, we will merit the coming of the Moshiach. Thank you for your cooperation.

Sincerely yours,

Robert Wilkes, DSW

Chairman, Region I I

Council for Mental Retardation

"'I could not think of any other phrase which could adequately describe or characterize the Lubuvitche Rebbe. Although I am not an orthodox Jew, I still feel a close and warm attachment to Rabbi Schneerson. Perhaps it is his deep and abiding caring for all Jews that has given me (and I'm sure to many others!) the inspiration and vigor to do what I'm doing.