Insists Hungarian Jews Cannot Join World Conference for Progressive Judaism

(Jewish Telegraphic Agency)

A further exchange of views on the question of the attitude of Hungarian Jews toward Reform Judaism is contained in correspondence between George Goetz, General Secretary of the Association for Liberal Judaism in Germany, and Paul Sandor, leader of the Neolog Jewish congregations in Hungary.

The correspondence was the result of the refusal of Dr. Sandor to attend the recent Berlin meeting of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, as a representative of his group in Hungary.

Herr Goetz addressed a communication to Dr. Sandor, following receipt of his refusal, in an attempt to convince the Hungarian leader that his views concerning the Liberal Jewish movement rest on a misconception. Liberal Judaism includes both Liberals and Reformers. The number of the Reform Jews in Germany, however, is small. It is not necessarily correct to say that Liberal Judaism is revolutionary in a religious sense. The Reform Jews know that in Germany there exist ancient Jewish traditions Both in England and in the United States, the Liberal Jews have not exchanged the Sabbath services for Sunday services. However, even those American Reform congregations which have Sunday services now, have a flourishing spiritual life. The same is true of the Reform community in Berlin, which, although not numerous is very outstanding in a spiritual sense. Sharply drawn lines of difference exist between the Liberals and the Reformers. Liberal Judaism in Germany, the great number of which is far from Reform, has at its helm such personalities as Dr. Leo Baeck of Berlin, Dr. Freudenthal of Nuerenburg, Dr. Caesar Seligmann of Frankfurt am Main, Dr. Vogelstein of Breslau, ad Professor Ismar Elbogen of Berlin.

To the Berlin conference of the World Union for progressive Judaism there were invited the rabbis of twelve large Israelitic communities in Germany, as official delegates, and additional thirty German rabbis as guests, who function in communities which include both Conservatives and Liberals. The greater part of German Jewry adheres to Liberal principles, it being impossible to raise the growing generation in the dogmatic, stale and ceremonial system of Orthodoxy. The Liberal Jews who are deeply religious know no difference between theory and practice. They are concerned to preserve Judaism which cannot be continued in the stiff armor of Orthodoxy. Liberal Judaism is therefore, in the real sense of the word, conservative, because it wishes to “conserve” Judaism, Herr Goetz argued in his letter to Dr. Sandor.

Dr. Sandor, in replying to this letter, expressed his regret that he was unable to say anything definite since the leaders of the Hungarian Neolog congregations were away from the capital. He does not believe, however, that the Hungarian Jews would join the World Union for Progressive Judaism. Hungarian Jewry, under the impression of the persecutions to which they were exposed, has become conservative, he repeated.

Dr. Sandor stated he has all admiration for the high ideals of Liberalism, which stand nearer to the ideal of tolerance than the school of Neolog Judaism in Hungary. It is, however, impossible to create in the country another school of Jewish religious thought, in addition to the three types of synagogues already in existence. He would attend the conference only as a silent observer, Dr. Sander declared.

In his first letter rejecting the invitation, Dr. Sandor dclared that he has observed during his recent visit to the United States that the Reform movement is not fully in accord with the Neolog school in Hungary. In Hungary only a small percentage of the Jews “flirt” with the Reform movement.

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