The degree of Doctor of Hebrew Literature honoris causa was conferred upon Louis Marshall in recognition for his life long service in the defense of the rights of the Jewish people and for his efforts in furthering the cause of Jewish learning and education, by Dr. Cyrus Adler, president of the Jewish Theological Seminary, at the commencement exercises of the Seminary held Sunday at Town Hall.
Dr. Adler, who presided at the exercises which marked the forty-first anniversary of the existence of the Seminary, stated that the seminary has graduated 203 rabbis who serve in Jewish communities in the United States and Canada. One of the graduates of the Seminary is the Chief Rabbi of the British Empire and another graduate holds the position of rabbi in Germany. The Teachers’ Institute, which was started eighteen years ago, has graduated 624 teachers.
The degree of Doctor of Hebrew Literature was conferred upon Rabbi Israel Goldstein, Rabbi Julius Maller and Rabbi Joseph Sarachek.
Deseribing the progress of the Seminary in recent years, the building up of its library, and reviewing the financial situation of the institute, Dr. Adler referred to recent bequests to the Seminary, particularly the bequest of the late Louis S. Brush, amounting to $1.400.000. This fund according to the will of Mr. Brush, is to be used for the building and upkeep of a dormitory on the seminary’s sile on West 123rd Street, and cannot be applied to the general financial neals of the seminary. Dr. C. E. Hillel Kauver of Denver. Rabbi Israel Goldfarb, and the Rev. Dr. Pereira Mondes stuke at the conclusion of the exercises which were marked by impressive solemnity. The andituriuta was crowled and at the close of the exercises the audience sang Adon Olam.
What constituted an attack on sensationalism in the Jewish pulpit and a call for the return to the authentic sourees of Judaism was sounded by Louis Marshall in his address, Mr. Marshall expressed his appreciation of the honor bestuwed upon him and dwelt at longth on the function of the rabbi in the community and what are the elements that make up a proper sermon. Mr. Marsball emphasized the close conncetion between the emptiness of many sermons and the indifference displayed by the intelligent Jeiwsh youth.
“Few in the community realize that the rabbi’s function is not to amuse or entertain his congregation but to be a teacher in Israel. Many are inclined to look for a thrill in the synagogue. I, for one, would prefer the dullest of sermons which contains a Midrashic tale and presents the wisdom of ages, to the so-called eloquence which touches upon the latest novel or the most recent public sensation and is in reality nothing but words, words, words, ” Mr. Marshall declared.
“I want the rabbi to tell me something I do not know, to point out a new line of thought, to present a new method of approach to the problems of life. I, for one, prefer such a thrill to eloquence. When I speak of this situation. I do not refer to any particular congregation,” the speaker stated.
“I often hear people complain that young men and women are indifferent to the synagogue, especially if they have gone through college. The reason is that they are intelligent, although they are not as intellectual as they imagine themselves to be; the reason is that they are serious minded and do not find what they seek in the synagogue.
“A young man or woman who goes to the house of worship and listens to words, words, words which scarcely ever precipitate an idea. who hear all kinds of sermons about Judaism, but hear nothing which is Judaism, such a person studies philosophy or something else and loses his interest in the synagogue.”
Mr. Marshall then urged that the publication of a book in English on the essentials of Judaism. a book which would not be written down to a child’s mentality but be written for an intelligent, thinking mind should be undertaken.
“Recently I received a communication from a young man who said: ‘I am a Jew and I want to be a Jew. But I want to know what Judaism is, what are its essentials.’ It is indeed deplorable,” Mr. Marshall continued, “that there are no books available which would give the young man the answer to this question and enable him to defend Judaism against malicious attacks from anti-Semitic sources.”
Mr. Marshall appealed to the Jewish public to lend financial support to the Jewish Theological Seminary. “Mr. Brush’s bequest,” he said, “is for a specific purpose and does not relieve the Seminary of its financial difficulties. More than once I have been told after such an appeal, ‘You are perfectly right’, but in spite of their hearty approval, no support was forthcoming. You can not ignore the work done by this institution of learning, otherwise our enemies will compel you to do your duty. You must not permit the Jewish youth to grow up in ignorance of the tenets of Judaism. Otherwise you deprive them of the opportunity of being staunch defenders of our faith,” Mr. Marshall declared.
Eight rabbis were ordained at the exercises. Twenty-five graduates received diplomas from the Teachers’ Training Department of the Teachers’ Institute. Six students were graduated from the Israel Friedlander Classes of the Extension Department.