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Dr. Eliot’s Warnings to American Jewry Discussed by Orthodox and Reform Rabbis

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Rabbis, both in reform and orthodox pulpits, further discussed the problem of assimilation and preservation of racial characteristics of the Jews in American, forcibly presented by Dr. Charles W. Eliot in his address before the Harvard Zionist Society.

“The Melting Pot,” like all catch phrases, has been superficially conceived or erroneously interpreted,” Dr. Nathan Krass, of Temple Emanu-El, stated.

“America is a new nation composed of foreigners hailing from various ethnic and religious origins. That these elements have not intermarried so as to have lost their identity is not a theory but a fact,” said Dr. Krass. “Americanism does not mean destruction of group gifts but the common allegiance of all citizens to the ideals, the institutions and the flag of the United States. It means the use of the vernacular as the common language of the country. It means the interpretation of the common life of the people in terms of the democratic spirit as illustrated by the founders and preservers of our Republic.

“Assimilation means the taking into one’s soul of these political ideals and of the adoption of the modus vivendi that best expresses these ideals. Assimilation does not mean that each religious group, Jews, Catholics, Protestants, should throw its religion into the ‘melting pot’ and wait patiently for a new religion to emerge. It does not mean that each ethnic group should surrender whatever virtues peculiarly its own it possesses and out of the ‘melting pot’ choose a fused resultant.

“Our democracy can best be likened to a symphony orchestra. Each instrument is individual, yet all work together to produce harmony, not discord, guided by a common leader. Each religious or ethnic group in America can contribute the best it has, the best with which God dowered it. America demands unity, not uniformity, and with prophetic insight and foresight our fathers chose a flag of many colors and adopted as the motto of the land ‘E pluribus unum’ – ‘one out of many.’

“Diverse individualities competing for the common advancement are a greater asset than a fused, colorless, unindifferentiated mass. A perfect Jew, a perfect Catholic and a perfect Protestant are three mighty forces for genuine Americanism. Three nondescripts will weaken, not strengthen, our remarkable and unique Republic.”

Dr. Herbert S. Goldstein, rabbi of the Institutional Synagogue, 37 West 116th Street, preaching on “The Survival of the Fittest-the Orthodox Jews,” declared himself to be heartily in accord with the views recently expressed by Dr. Charles W. Eliot, President emeritus of Harvard University, concerning the Jew in America.

“Dr. Eliot deprecated as an observer any attempt to break away from the traditions of the Jewish faith on the part of the Jewish people,” said Dr. Goldstein. “That, in his judgment would be a loss to America. I am happy indeed to note the pure attitude of Dr. Eliot on what Americanism and America should mean to all of us. America is not the melting pot of the respective world’s faiths. America is made richer by the contributions that Catholic, Protestant and Jew bring through their religions to the enhancement of the moral and spiritual wellbeing of our beloved country.

“Our beloved country will lose every vestige of racial and religious hatred when we will emphasize our non-sectarianism, not by breaking down the multitudinous sects, but by encouraging each and every one of them to bring their spiritual offerings.”

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