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Two Rabbinic Bodies in Joint Session Consider Problems of Orthodoxy

(Jewish Daily Bulletin)

The Orthodox rabbinate in the United States is not united, it was disclosed at the joint convention of two bodies of Orthodox rabbis, Kenesseth Ha’Rabbanim and Degel Ha’Rabbanim, which opened here at the Fairmont Hotel in the presence of eighty rabbis from various parts of the United States.

Rabbi Jacob Eskolsky of New York and Rabbi Mendelson of Newark were elected chairmen of the convention. Rabbis Wolvele Margolies of New York, Yudolowitz of New York, Barishansky of Washington, D.C., and Horowitz of Pittsburgh, were elected honorary presidents of the convention.

The agenda of the three days sessions which will come to an end on Wednesday evening, includes a discussion on the outstanding problems of Orthodox Jews in the United States, such as religious education, adherence to the religious laws with regard to the purity of family life, necessary safeguards for the observance of the Sabbath and the supervision of the sale of kosher meat. It was stated that the last point will evoke a heated discussion as the two groups which have joined in the convention are greatly at variance with the Union of Orthodox Rabbis in the United States and Canada, an older organization, on this point.

Recent rulings adopted at the convention of the Union held last month in Belmar, N. J. called forth a strong opposition among other Orthodox rabbis who are not members of the organization. The purpose of the convention is not warfare but peace and a united Orthodox Jewry, it was repeatedly declared in the addresses of Rabbi Eskolsky, Barishansky, Margolies and others.

The conflict, however, came to a head when Rabbi Eskolsky, in his opening address, revealed that members of the two organizations received “threatening letters” from the Union of Orthodox Rabbis, warning them not to participate in the proposed meeting. The conveners of the conference were declared “destroyers of the faith.” Rabbi Eskolsky charged the leadership of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis with arbitrary methods and with a determination to institute a dictatorship in the Orthodox rabbinate in the United States.

He also charged that Rabbi B. Revel, head of the faculty of the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, and other members of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis, have written to the rabbis in Palestine asking them not to confer rabbinic degrees upon American students who have previously studied in American Yeshivas and later proceeded to Palestine to complete their studies there. Fear of “competition” was said to have been the motive for this.

Cabled greetings were read from Rabbi Chaim Sonnenfeld of Jerusalem and the Union of Orthodox Rabbis in Poland. The first session was closed with a moving address in Hebrew by Rabbi S. L. Horowitz of New York.

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