Celebrated Cleveland Case to Force Decision on Orthodox vs. Conservative Issue
The friction on theological grounds obtaining throughout the country between strictly Orthodox congregations and those termed Conservative, affiliated with the United Synagogue of America, is being aired, preparatory to a trial which will begin in the Cleveland courts on Nov. 15.
The taking of depositions by rabbis and laymen, leaders of the Orthodox and Conservative wings in New York, began yesterday at the Manhattan Square Hotel for the forthcoming trial in the suit of a group of Orthodox members of the Clevland Jewish Center against Rabbi Solomon Goldman, spiritual leader of the congregation.
The conflict between the Orthodox group and the Rabbi dates back two and a half years. The congregation, which has been in existence fifty years, has built the Jewish Center in which it was stated a million dollars was invested. A committee of the Orthodox members, including A. A. Katz, A. A. Lifkovitz M. Sobel and J. Scheinbart filed a suit against Rabbi Goldman, alleging that he has diverted from the constitution of the congregation which provides that as long as ten members will insist on the Orthodox ritual, the congregation is to remain Orthodox. The committee insists that the Center continue to adhere to the Orthodox ritual.
The present board of the Center and Rabbi Goldman contend that the mode of worship, ritual and practice introduced by Rabbi Goldman is in accordance with traditional Judaism.
The trial, the first of its kind in the United States, will thus have to be decided on the question of what constitutes Orthodoxy. It is in an effort to secure this definition that the court has authorized Walter J. Hamilton. a Cleveland lawyer, a non-Jew, who represents the plaintiffs, to preside over the taking of depositions from witnesses called by both parties. Mr. Matthews, also a non-Jew, represents the defendants. Israel Gombrow of Baltimore, represents the Union of Orthodox Congregations.
So far the testimony of Dr. B. Drachman, Rabbi Leo Jung, Rabbi M. S. Margolies, Rabbi Eliezar Silver of Springfield, Rabbi J. L. Selzer of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis, Rabbi Herbert S. Goldstein of the Union of Orthodox Congregations and Mr. Gedaliah Bublick, editor of the Orthodox “Jewish Daily News” has been taken.
The witnesses are asked to answer to 33 questions which pertain to the charges brought by the Orthodox committee against Rabbi Goldman. Among the charges are that Rabbi Goldman had denied the Sinaitic origin of the Torah and the Decalogue, that he had permitted men and women to sit together in the synagogue, that he abolished the saying of grace at public dinners, that he had abolished the priestly benediction at the synagogue services and that he kisses the brides after performing the marriage ceremony.