Term it Conversion; Rabbi Landman Gives His View on Innovation
The inclusion of the study of the New Testament in the curriculum of the Adult School of Religion conducted by Temple Israel of Far Rockaway in Lawrence, L. I. was bitterly criticized by the “Jewish Morning Journal” and “Jewish Daily News”, organs of Orthodox opinion.
The criticism was voiced in connection with the opening of a class, which has 18 students from among the Temple membership, by Dr. Isaac Landman, Rabbi of the Temple and editor of “The American Hebrew.”
The “Jewish Daily News” in reporting this fact terms it “a conversion class.” “The Reformers have finally thrown off the mask and shown who they really are and what their goal is: conversion, acceptance of Christianity,” the paper asserts.
The “Jewish Morning Journal,” commenting on this matter editorially declares: “It is difficult to find words to express our indignation at this unheard of audacity before the eyes of the largest community of devoted Jews in the world. It seems that Dr. Landman has systematically led the patrons of his Temple directly to the New Testament. Now that they are there he has no other choice but to ‘deliver the goods.’ Woe to the generation which has such leaders,” the paper writes.
In a statement issued to the “Jewish Daily Bulletin,” Dr. Landman explained that the study of the New Testament from a scientific point of view was introduced only in the Adult School of the Temple, the purpose being an “evaluation” of the elements of Judaism and Christianity which may contribute toward the development of a universal religion. Dr. Landman expressed his hope that other Jewish congregations may emulate his example. In his statement Dr. Landman declared:
“The time has come when the New Testament should no longer be a closed book to the Jews. Not so long ago the name of Jesus and the Christian holy book were anathema among our people. The Jews will never be able to understand their Christian fellows until they know what there is in the New Testament which creates a wall of misunderstanding between them.
“Our New Testament course comes after five years’ study of the Jewish Scriptures, the Apocrypha, and Jewish Apocalyptic literature. Our students are well prepared on both the Jewish and pagan background to the New Testament, religious and cultural.
“We shall study Christian Scriptures from the modern, scientific point of view as we have done our own. We shall ascertain which ideals and precepts in its pages are Jewish and which are pagan; which are in their nature temporal and which enduring. We shall attempt to analyze and understand the point of cleavage between Judaism and Christianity as these are presented in the two Testaments.
“There is a blank page between these Scriptures which can best be filled in by Jewish scholars. It is amazing that Jews have permitted Christian scholarship only, to write and interpret this fascinating period of human history to which we have contributed so fundamentally. We inaugurate this course under the aegis of the synagogue with the hopes that other Jewish congregations will follow.
“Religion today is undergoing changes for more radical in the spiritual evolution of mankind than were those in the days of Jesus and Paul. We ought to evaluate what there is in the Books of Religion of both Judaism and Christianity; what elements in them may contribute toward the development of a universal religion,” the statement concluded.