Declaring that the contact of Judaism with established Christianity is much closer than ever before, Dr. William Rosenau, Associate Professor in Post-Biblical Hebrew at Johns Hopkins University, in his address “The Call for Readjustment,” delivered at the opening exercises of the fifth academic year of the Jewish Institute of Religion, New York, asserted that the time had come for a readjustment of religious values, and that to the Jew the call for readjustment comes with exceptional urgency.
“Judaism in the western world is put on a double defensive. It is compelled to vindicate itself not only against its grandchildren, heralding innumerable modern solutions of life’s riddle, but also against every one of its daughters, more particularly the Christian Church, declaring its specific tenets.” Dr. Rosenau declared that the problem of survival is agitating all existing creeds.
“The present defection from Judaism, noticeable among young and old, men and women, poor and rich, is traceable to our unpardonable delay in heeding the unmistakable call for sweeping propaganda and timely adjustment,” he stated.
In speaking of the necessary readjustments that religion must make in order to be acceptable to modern youth, the speaker noted that “modern secular features introduced by many Church and Temple Centers are not, as such, calculated to prove rich wells of necessary salvation. Before they can develop a healthy religious appreciation, they must be differently conceived, planned and operated, from what they now prove themselves to be. Centers attached to a House of God should be religiously motivated and religiously conducted. They should subserve the specific interest of the denomination under the aegis and for the furtherance of which they declare themselves to work.”
“Of course, Judaism will survive as a system of thought by the very essence of its truth,” declared Dr. Rosenau, “but as a definite movement it cannot expect to remain abreast of the times unless it be by proper organization of all available forces for the dissemination of its truth.”
In outlining the tasks that confront the modern rabbi, Dr. Rosenau, in addressing the students of the Jewish Institute of Religion, urged them to remember that “in Jewry, we have often, on account of warrantedly stressing scholarship, gone to the extreme of underestimating the rabbi’s pastoral and community endeavor. Abundant proof exists that Jewish affiliations have been not infrequently saved, and even re-established, through the rabbi’s intelligent and tactful social intercourse. Moreover, the rabbi is truly the proper person to help settle Jewish social service problems. It is certainly commendable in the rabbi to be active as community worker, for he thus demonstrates that he would translate his preaching into practice, and would become acquainted with human life at close and intimate range.”
Hon. Julian W. Mack, vice-chairman of the Board of the Jewish Institute of Religion, and Dr. Stephen S. Wise, acting president, also addressed the students at the opening exercises, pointing out the tasks and privileges which face the rabbi in modern day life.
Announcement was made of a valuable collection presented to the library of the Jewish Institute of Religion, consisting of a great part of the library of the late Israel Abrahams, widely known scholar of Cambridge University, containing valuable and rare Hebraica and Judaica. The collection was presented to the Institute by Dr. Abraham’s wife and daughter, because Dr. Abrahams cooperated with Dr. Stephen S. Wise in founding the Jewish Institute of Religion, and taught at that institution for several years.