Judge Rebukes School for Expelling Jewish Boy Refusing to Attend Chapel

(Jewish Daily Bulletin)

A decision by the City Court here in the case of a Jewish boy who refused to attend Christian Chapel services caused wide comment.

Judge Albert A. Hartzell, of the City Court of Buffalo, handed down the decision in the case in which the Miami Military Institute of Germantown, Ohio, was the plaintiff, and N. Leff of this city, the defendant.

The case concerned the refusal of Leff’s son to attend chapel services where particular emphasis was laid on the philosophy and ethics of a faith other than his own. For this refusal the boy was expelled from the school. The matter came before Judge Hartzell, the school claiming the year’s tuition fee.

In his decision Judge Hartzell quoted Daniel Webster on religious liberty and stated:

“It is plain to me that the strenuous effort of the plaintiff to compel the defendant’s son, a boy of Jewish faith, to attend the church services of various Christian Churches in the village of Germantown, against his will and in opposition to his religious beliefs and convictions is clearly a violation of his constitutional rights. This, to my mind is so, unless the language of the Bill of Rights of the State Constitution of Ohio is composed of empty words, and the ideas and ideals of the American people as to freedom of conscience through all these years, has been but a pleasant dream.

“The defendant’s son, a youth just on the threshold of his young manhood, buoyed up by all the alluring inducements of parental care and the flattering enticements of solicitous consideration for his comfort and happiness that the school offers to him–according to the blandishments of the catalogue–suddenly finds himself ## from the institution with all the ?dant humiliation and disgrace. Not only that, but he finds that the plaintiff is so jealous of the sanctity of the customs of the school, that it feels that it can best preserve them by seeking to obtain from his father the sum of seven hundred and sixty-five dollars and eight cents for ten days’ schooling.

“And for what reason?

“Is it because the boy was manly enough not to sacrifice principle to expediency, and remained firm in his faith and convictions, and true to his conscience in spite of all threats and penalties that he might suffer?

“It seems to me that the boy’s attitude is a fine example of that love of religious liberty that Daniel Webster, the great expounder of the spirit and principle of the national life of the American people describes ‘a sentiment in the breast of men made up of the nearest sense of right and the highest conviction of duty’, that enabled this youth, far from home and fireside, a stranger in a strange land, ‘to look the sternest despotism in the face’.

“In view of the foregoing, judgment is found in favor of the defendant and against the plaintiff of no cause of action, dismissing the plaintiff’s complaint upon the merits, and judgment for the defendant for his counterclaim in the amount of $475.00 and interest from September 25, 1924, together with costs and disbursements herein, amounting in the aggregate to the sum of $580.84.”

Rabbi C. David Matt of Minneapolis, Minn., has accepted a call to a pulpit in Buffalo. New York.

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