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Liberal Judaism is Not Religion for Few, Alfred M. Cohen Tells Graduates

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Speaking at the second annual commencement exercises of the Jewish Institute of Religion last night, Alfred M. Cohen, Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Hebrew Union College of Cincinnati, denied that liberal Judaism is reserved for the rich Jews.

Addressing the graduates of the Institute last night, Mr. Cohen sooke on “The Qualifications of the Modern Rabbi.” He said, in part:

“Do your utmost to remove a too generally prevailing impression that liberal Judaism is reserved as the possession of the rich. I believe there is a good deal of justice in the criticism of a reform house of worship that it possesses a chilly atmosphere; that it does not bring the worshippers into friendly contact; that those who are strange to each other outside of the Temple remain strangers in the Temple.”

Declaring that it is the expectation of the man in the pew that his minister shall be thoroughly sincere, Mr. Cohen went on to say : “All ministers preach the duty of obeying the law of the land. But there are some who are silent witnesses of its violation. For instance, prohibition is written into the Constitution of the United States and is defined by statute. The law among many is unpopular and frequently is disregarded. Violation of this law is encouraged by a minister when he functions at affairs where such violations occur and holds his peace. It is trite to say that the infraction of one law leads to the breaking of others.

“The rabbi should always bear in mind that he can never disassociate himself or his utterances from his calling as a leader of his people. Nothing that he says or does fails to reflect upon or redound to the credit of the Jew, who cannot hope for more favorable opinion than that which his rabbi creates. No human concern can be without interest to the rabbi. He must be at the beck and call of every humane object. Of course he will recognize no distinction of race, creed or color in his service in humanity’s cause.”

Rabbi Stephen S. Wise conferred the degrees of Master of Hebrew Literature and Rabbi on the following men : Maurice J. Bloom, Mitchell S, Fischer, Joshua L. Goldberg, Harry Kaplan Leo M. Reichel, John Tepfer, Gershon Tschernowitz and Samuel Teitelbaum.

The degree of Doctor of Hebrew Literature, honoris causa, was conferred in absentia upon Prof. George Foot Moore, Frothingham Professor of Religion at Harvard University, and upon Dr. Immanuel Loew of Hungary. Prof. Moore is the first non-Jew to receive a degree from a Jewish theological seminary in all Jewish history. The degree was awarded to him for his Biblical research work and for his study, “Judaism”, which has just been published.

Judge Julian W. Mack of the New York Circuit Court and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Institute, announced that Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, who had hitherto been serving as Acting President of the Jewish Institute of Religion, had been unanimously elected President by the Board of Trustees.

Judge Mack announced that Mrs. Sol Rosenbioom of Pittsburgh had presented the sum of $10,000 to the Jewish Institute of Religion as the nucleus of a fund in memory of the late Sol Rosenbloom, to be known as the Sol Rosenbloom Fund, the income to be used in the Talmudic department of the Institute.

Judge Mack also announced a gift of $25,000 from Leon Falk, head of the Federated Metals Corporation of Pittsburgh, as a contribution toward the J. Leonard Levy Professorship Fund, this chair to be established through the funds contributed by Mr. Falk and other Pittsburgh friends of the late Dr. Leonard Levy of Pittsburgh.

A gift of $5,000 from Abraham Erlanger, head of the National Farm School, was also announced.

Judge Mack announced that Mrs. Max Guggenheimer, who had been a member of the Board of Trustees of the Institute, had bequeathed $25,000 to the Institute in addition to a previous gift of $25,000 made in her lifetime.

Dr. Jacob Sonderling has been elceted rabbi of Temple B’nai Israel of Washington Heights, Dr. Sonderling will begin to officiale immediately, although formal installation will not take place until September.

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