Menu JTA Search

Digest of Public Opinion on Jewish Matters

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

[The purpose of the Digest is informative: Preference is given to papers not generally accessible to our readers. Quotation does not indicate approval.--Editor.]

The report from Chicago that a Jewish dispute, involving the question of religious freedom, has arisen there and as a result the Moses Montefiore Hebrew Free School in that city has summoned the Chicago Jewish Charities to a ‘Din Torah’ (rabbinical trial) because the latter withdrew financial support from the school when it failed to alter its course of studies to conform to the requirements of the Jewish Education Committee, is termed by the “Jewish Daily News,” orthodox paper of New York, “a war of Reform Judaism against Orthodoxy.”

“The conflict of the orthodox school of Chicago,” the paper writes, “against the Charity Federation which is conducted by a Reform Jew is not a conflict of one school nor is it a conflict that involves only Chicago; it involves the orthodoxy of the entire country. It involves the great question; shall the orthodoxy of America allow itself to be fought and stifled by the Reformed Jews who are in a position to employ the charity Federations as an instrument for their fight against orthodoxy?”

Pointing out that the Hebrew Free School of Chicago agreed to accept financial support from the Charity Federation only on condition that the Federation refrain from interfering with the school’s method of teaching, the paper characterizes the behavior of the Charity Federation as “a crime” and observes: “It is a crime when an effort is made to force someone to do things against his-conscience through the means of money and to seek to violate the freedom of conscience of others under the mask of a charity organization which undertook to keep from intruding into anything except to collect money and distribute it.

“In certain American cities,” the paper proceeds, “there are community charity chests, mutual city drives which include funds for Christian as well as Jewish institutions. What would we say for example if after a drive of this kind the Christian ministers, who participated in the work of collecting the funds, were to make out a program of what is to be done in the Young Men’s Hebrew Association, or if these ministers decided to abolish Kashruth in a Jewish hospital? Or if Jews, let us say, were to try to dictate in Christian institutions? The Federation of Charities in Chicago has no more right to dictate to the Hebrew School or to any other school! A partnership between the Reform and Orthodox Jews can be possible only in the matter of collecting and distributing funds, but in nothing else.

“It is a war of the Reformed Jews against orthodox Judaism, a war in which the wealthy Reformed Jews or their paid assistants desire to use the whip of money to suppress orthodoxy. It is a war which the orthodox Jews must take up.”

The hope that the dispute in Chicago may turn into a sort of Jewish “Dayton trial” is expressed by the “Jewish Morning Journal,” another orthodox paper in New York. While assuming a more impartial tone than the “Jewish Daily News” the “Jewish Morning Journal” declares; “We are certain that in the end the orthodox Jews will overcome the Reform Jews even in Federations proper, and keen observers among the latter admit that the future is ours. But the transition is difficult and lasts longer than it should because those who assume the role of representatives of orthodoxy do not abide firmly enough by the principles it is their duty to defend. If the Chicago “Din Torah” could become in our Jewish world a sort of “Dayton Trial,” the large orthodox element of American Jewry would become more conscious and would find it much easier to assert the independence and self reliance which it should have.”

NEXT STORY