Digest of Public Opinion on Jewish Matters

[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 consolidation of Temples Emanu-El and Beth-El in New York is commented on by the “American Hebrew” and the “Jewish Tribune” in their issues of May 20.

Predicting that the consolidation of the two houses of worship will bring a new force of progress in American Jewry, the “American Hebrew” offers the suggestion that the merged congregations be named The Great Synagogue. The paper writes:

“We suggest that the consolidated congregations, Temple Emanu-El and Temple Beth-El, be named the Great Synagogue. The amalgamation of these two historic congregations merges two great spiritual forces and offers unlimited possibilities for Judaism. The new congregation possesses theological and lay leadership of the highest order. These, backed by the material assets of the two organizations, make it possible to carry through a congregational program unequaled anywhere else in the world. The influence of its activities should radiate not alone in the great metropolis and its environs but throughout the nation; and echoes of its achievements in the cause of Judaism will bring inspiration and courage to many congregations and individuals in other lands. From every point of view, the consolidation of Emanu-El and Beth-El has brought into possession of American Israel a new force of untold, latent power for the progress of Judaism. The traditions of both congregations, the united aspirations of the future of both, ought, in fact, make this congregation “The Great Synagogue’ in America.”

The “Jewish Tribune” says:

“In deciding to approve the proposed merger with Temple Emanu-El, the members of Temple Beth-El of New York City showed not only prudence, but courage as well. Itself the result of a merger in 1874, it had played a prominent role in the New York community, its pulpit having been occupied by some of the most distinguished rabbis of modern times, such as Max Lilienthal, Kaufman Kohler, and the present incumbent, Samuel Schulman.

“Viewed from the angle of achievements and position, therefore, the merger of the two temples is really a union of equals and not by any means an absorption of the weak by the strong, and we therefore see much to commend the suggestion that the new organization bear a name which shall indicate this, or a new name.”

JEWISH BOOK WEEK

The Jewish Book Week, which was recently proposed by Rabbi S. Felix Mendelsohn through the columns of the “Jewish Daily Bulletin” and which, according to reports, will be observed by Jews throughout America this week, has called forth the approval of the Anglo-Jewish press.

The “American Hebrew” of May 20 writes:

“Tired though we are of the multi-tudinous weeks. . . . Jewish Book Week titillates our somewhat calloused sense of appreciation. Although we are born Jewish, we must not take it for granted that our Judaism will somehow reach us by absorption. Back of our religion are thousands of years of cultural development and objectives. Jewish philosophy and wisdom from Biblical times through the commentators of the middle ages and the eclectic sages of today forms an interesting body of thought for the modern student. In the light of Jewish history we can see our own guiding destiny far more clearly. The excuse can no longer be offered that the right sort of material is not available in English.”

The “Jewish Press” of Omaha, Nebraska, endorses the sentiments expressed in an editorial of the Chicago “Sentinel,” wherein it was declared:

“The Protestant churches of America have a certain week in the year which is known as Religious Book Week. We believe that we can well follow their example and observe a Jewish Book Week. It seems to us that the week following Lag B’Omer, which is known as the “Scholars’ Festival,” would be a very fitting occasion for Jewish Book Week. Let the Rabbis of America devote their sermons on the Sabbath following Lag B’Omer to the Jewish book. Let them on this Sabbath point out the historic role of the book in Judaism and urge the people to continue to buy and read good Jewish books. Because of the proximity of Lag B’Omer to confirmation Rabbis could also urge Jewish parents to buy Jewish books as gifts for confirmants.”

The following remarks are made editorially in the May issue of the “Jewish Forum,” which presents a symposium on the subject by rabbis, Jewish editors and communal leaders:

“We are of the opinion that once a child possesses a little library of its own, it will develop a taste for more books. The dearth of useful Jewish books in English makes the private ownership of a Jewish library all the more imperative. The various methods of building up such libraries and acquiring the necessary Jewish knowledge suggested in the symposium should therefore be carefully noted.”

The editor of the “Jewish Independent” of Cleveland observes:

“If Jewish Library Week were made a part of the program of all Jewish Religious Schools, it would help to intensify the love of learning that should never depart from the People of the Book. In cities that have well organized Bureaus of Jewish Education, the plan might be more readily worked out.”

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