Reform Rabbis Cite Need for Constructive Measures to Combat Proselytizing

(Jewish Daily Bulletin)

The need of constructive, energetic action to safeguard the religious rights of Jewish school children was voiced by Rabbi Solomon Foster, chairman of the Synagogue Council of America, in his report to the Central Conference of American Rabbis which is holding its thirty-ninth annual convention at the Hotel Shoreland here.

Instead of filing protests with Christian bodies which are sponsoring proselytizing activities among Jewish children, it was decided to stimulate Jewish bodies to meet the menace by offering in affected localities the kind of programs which will provide for Jewish children all the inducements that the proselytizing institutions supply.

The center of discussion during the second day’s session was the Union Prayer Book. In a paper presented by Rabbi Samuel S. Cohen of Cincinnati on “The Theology of the Union Prayer Book,” he declared that the first Book of the Compilation ought to be eliminated entirely. Rabbi Ferdin-and M. Isserman of Toronto, Canada, declared that too many of the worshippers understood the prayers as they were written in English, and that they should be written, read and recited in Hebrew. Rabbi Bernard Heller of Scranton, Penna., said there is “Too much I in the prayer books, too much individual, prayer and not enough collective devotionals.” Rabbi Leon A. Fram of Detroit declared the book represented an individualistic religion.

Dr. Foster declared the trouble is not with the book but with those who interpret it.

In a paper on “The Relation of the Synagogue to Mental Healing,” Dr. Louis Witt of St. Louis said, “The synagogue can help or heal the ailments of the spirit by the direct application of the religious attitude by which is meant faith, prayer and the lofty standards of living. The synagogue can help or heal the ailments of the body, the indirect effect of thoughts of cheer, calm and courage which have their origin and re-enforcement in the religious attitude. The synagogue is opposed to every cult or creed that denies reality to all human ailments or maintains that there is no healing except the direct and unmediated action of the Divine on the human mind. The synagogue holds that its prime function is the inculcation of the religious attitude and that religious attitude covers a jurisdiction that is moral and social and philosophic as well as therapeutic.”

A vigorous protest was launched by the Synagogue Council against the Langford bill which provides Sunday shall be a day of rest in the District of Columbia, Dr. Foster reported. The Conference went on record endorsing the stand of the Council and will aid in the fight against the measure. Dr. Foster said, “We are opposed to the bill because it has in its enacting clause the phrase ‘the Lord’s day,’ which ought to be omitted. The present wording makes the United States Government establish a Lord’s day.”

DIMINUTION OF SECTARIAN AGITATION REPORTED

Five hundred members of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, leader in the Reform pulpit, were present at the opening session of the thirty-ninth annual convention of the Conference being held here at the Shoreland Hotel.

In his annual message, Rabbi H. G. Enelow of New York, president of the Conference, presented his recommendations to the assembly.

He suggested that greetings be sent to the Union of Democratic Jews of Polish Silesia, that the Portuguese Marranos Committee be endorsed and financial assistance be given the newly established congregation at Braganca.

A complete study should be made of the activities in the field of non-Jewish missionary endeavor, as far as it affects the Jewish people, and of means to counteract it:

Enlargement of the scope of the Commission on Social Justice, changing the name to the Commission on Economic, Industrial and other Social Relations, so that tt “devote its attention to such phenomena in the life of the laboring masses as are expressive of a struggle for a betterment of their material and spiritual conditions, and especially in these circles in which Jewish men and women predominate,” was recommended.

Rabbi Morris Newfield reported that the Conference had $100,000 invested in bonds. Rabbi Joseph L. Fink of Cincinnati reported $100,000 cash in the treasury.

The Committee on Church and State reported on the connection between the weakening of the Ku Klux Klan and the diminution of sectarian agitation. Doubt was expressed whether one was the result of the other. The rabbis were told the danger has not entirely passed. Religious education of children is not as effective as it should be. The report was submitted by Rabbi Abram Simon of Washington, D. C.

NEXT STORY