Advocacy of Liberal Judaism in Europe and Palestine Proposed by American Rabbis’ Conference

(Jewish Daily Bulletin)

The establishment of a liberal synagogue in Palestine by the Central Conference of American Rabbis and an active propaganda for the interpretation of Judaism in Europe according to the conception of the American Reform Movement was advocated by Rabbi Louis Wolsey, president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, in his message to the thirty-seventh annual convention which was opened last night at Kenilworth Inn, here. The Conference, comprising the rabbis of Reform congregations in this country and Canada, will be in session four days.

Rabbi Moses P. Jacobson, of Temple Beth Ha-Tephila and Marcus Sterne, Jr., welcomed the members of the conference. Dr. H. Enelow, vice president of the conference replied.

A memorial resolution in memory of Dr. Kaufman Kohler was read by Dr. D. Philipson, Cincinnati, and one to Dr. David Klein, by Rabbi Joseph S. Kornteld of Toledo, Ohio.

The outstanding feature of the opening session was the president’s message including announcements of the program of national and international activities to be undertaken during the ensuing year. The objective of this endeavor, Dr. Wolsey explained, aims to “protest against the identification of Judaism with ceremonialism, our insistence upon an interpretation of Judaism as that of a progressive, mobile, democratic religion, our teaching that the essence of Judaism is ethical, that its Messianic thought is moral and not national, that it is a universal and not a parochial faith, that it thinks of the Jew as a moral priest of humanity and not as a sinner in exile. The slogan for Reform Judaism should be: Let us bring Judaism to the Jews,” the president stated.

Dr. Wolsey, in his address, referred to the Eucharistic Congress and took an optimistic view of the results of the movement to remove religious and racial prejudices. Mgr. Dr. Van Asseldonk, of Holland, the founder of a new society in Rome, known as the “Friends of Israel,” whose purpose it is to develop within the Catholic world a friendly attitude towards Jews, is a delegate to the Eucharistic Congress, Dr. Wolsey stated.

According to Rabbi Wolsey, Mgr. Asseldonk outlined the scope of the “Friends of Israel” as “a Catholic and purely religious movement of love towards God’s people. A big, free international movement of priests of the whole church, not an institute or a missionary society. The “Friends of Israel” will in their sermons, writings and conferences teach the Catholic and if possible, the whole world what the love of God toward His people was, is and will be. It will be of benefit to the Jews that they should regard our movement with sympathy and not with mistrust.”

Dr. Wolsey in commenting on this pronouncement of Mgr. Asseldonk said: “In a day when the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America could proffer the hand of fellowship to the American Jew, through its committee on Peace and Good Will and, when, too, Count Leon Ostorog, honorary lecturer in Mohammedan Laws in the University of London and formerly Minister Plenipotentiary to the Sublime Porte, could speak before the Anglo-Palestinian Club and appeal for more friendly relations between Jews and Moslems, one is almost tempted to believe that the prophet of reconciliation has come to earth before the approach of the great and reverence inspiring day of the Lord.

“We must regard with more than passing interest the fact that all these three great religious bodies that have spoken much of peace should now take practical steps to exemplify their gospel. Our Committee on Peace and Good Will reports eloquently at this convention the progress of the movement for inter-religious peace between Jew and Protestant.”

The president recommended that the Committee on Good Will of the Conference make representations to Cardinal Bonanzo, representative of Pope Pius XI, and through him to the Eucharistic Congress in Chicago, that “we hear with great pleasure the report of the purposes of this new organization within the Catholic Church, that we cherish very deeply the hope that the teachings of our respective religious touching the subject of justice between man and man, might give to synagogue and church the possibility of friendly understanding and that to this end we invite and urge the friendly offices of the Roman Catholic Church in the cause of alleviating the miseries of our Jewish brethren in such countries as Roumania, Poland, Hungary, and Austria, where their lot is anything but corroborative of the religious that preach peace,” Dr. Wolsey stated.

In his address Dr. Wolsey attacked the Zionist Organization, and expressed himself as follows: “The greatest blessing that could come to the Jewish people in Palestine would be the disintegration the present Zionist Organization.”

A wreath was placed today on the grave of Zebulon B. Vance, North Carolinian statesman, for his championing tolerance and defending the rights of the Jewish people.

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