[The purpose of the Digest is informative. Preference is given to papers not generally accessible to our readers. Quotation does not indicate approval.–Editor.]
A defense of the present-day rabbi against the charges of Professor Wechsler, who, speaking in behalf of the Jewish intellectuals before the Menorah conference, asserted that the rabbi of today “professes Judaism, preaches Christianity and practices neither,” was made by Dr. Nathan Krass of Temple Emanu-El. As quoted by the N. Y. “Evening Post” of Jan. 31, Rabbi Krass declared:
“The castigation of the rabbis by Professor Wechsler, if correctly reported, was shamefully gratuitous. How does he know that any honest rabbi in his privacy bewails the necessity of saying things which he does not believe. Has any rabbi confessed to Professor Wechsler?
“To say the rabbi of today ‘professes Judaism, preaches Christianity and practices neither,’ is the rankest kind of nonsense. Professor Wechsler assumes that modern rabbis are not scholars, and is evidently unfamiliar with the scholarly work a number of them have done within recent years.
“The self-styled intellectuals in Israel, whose task seems to be to destroy Jewish traditions and Judaism particularly, are egregiously in error when they pretend to be the bearers of Jewish culture.
“Jewish culture always included Judaism. The intellectuals would do much better if they took an active part in Judaism sympathetically and tried to contribute something positive to its modern development.”
The “Post” also quotes Rabbi Jonah B. Wise and Dr. Isaac Landman on the same subject. Rabbi Wise challenged the intellectuals to become rabbis themselves and do better, saying:
“The rabbi is by tradition and by modern circumstances an intellectual and there is nothing in the rule of the synagogue to prevent an intellectual from becoming a rabbi.
“If the intellectuals want to help, they can step into the places of the rabbis, who, they say, are destroying Judaism, and pour their souls into the task of saving it. There is no one to exclude them or to question their right.
“We have no hierarchy or priesthood. The rabbi is a layman specially prepared through culture and character to interpret Jewish learning and religion.”
Dr. Landman stated:
“The difficulty of the Menorah Association intellectual group is that they are for the most part young men who are naturally estranged from orthodox Judaism, which they can no longer countenance, and have not seen fit to affiliate themselves with liberal Judaism in America in order to plumb its spiritual depths and absorb its universalistic idealism.”
The Menorah Society lacks a “central idea.” according to the “Jewish Daily News” of yesterday, which observes editorially:
“The intellectuals of the Menorah are in a strange position: neither Reform, nor Orthodoxy, nor ultra-Zionism. The result is that they lack a central idea around which they might concentrate their entire Jewish ‘weltanschauung,’ and all their doubts, all their searchings in the three directions, the Reform, the Orthodox and the extremely-nationalistic, were reflected sharply at the Menorah conference. There was apparent there a keen yearning for the firm old Judaism, a desire to become better and more thorough Jews. But at the same time it was obvious that these people are not prepared to place themselves firmly on the foundations of real Judaism. It seems as if they are afraid of the idea of returning to the sources from which Jewry has been deriving its strength from time immemorial.” Simon L. Fisch of Newark, N. J. has been named First Assistant Prosecutor of Essex County, N. J.