Declaring war against the indifference that threatens to undermine the Jewish religion in this country. Dr. Cyrus Adler, president of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York City and of Dropsie College, Philadelphia, yesterday, on the occasion of his sixty-fifth birthday, called upon Jews in this country to strengthen the synagogue as the only source from which Judaism must continue to get its sustenance.
Dr. Adler belongs to the Conservative wing in American Jewry. As one of the founders of the United Synagogue of America he believes that Judaism in this country must strke a happy medium between extremists on both sides. While he has an abiding faith in the future of his people and is impatient with those “who would barter their religion for some new-fangled idolatry” he believes the immediate task of the American Jews is to bring back the large number of Jews, who have drifted away from it, into the synagogue.
Asked what he considered the immediate task of the Jews in America Dr. Adler said: “I do not share the feeling of the pessimists. I am not worried over the future of the Jew in America, or the world over for that matter. I am much more concerned about our duty as Jews.”
“The figures published recently by the United States Census Bureau as well as the figures compiled for the American Jewish Committee places the number of Jews in America at upward of four million–4,288,029 to be exact. As I see it the problem is this: compare the number of heads of Jewish families with the number of those belonging to congregations–and I am sufficiently old-fashioned to maintain that it is the duty of the Jew to be affiliated with the synagogue–and you will find the number to be alarmingly small. Our duty is quite clear. We must go out and enlist the Interest of the majority in the synagogue. Those people must be made to realize that their place is in the synagogue and that they are not fulfilling their functions as Jews unless they are an’ integral part of the synagogue, actively participating in all the synagogue represents. That there should be so many was taken in the reorganization of the movement is an evidence of an earnest desire on the part of both the leaders and the rank and file of our organization to do whatever will redound to the highest interests of the movement, regardless of the sacrifices involved. No institution is perfect, but as long as there is a desire to keep on improving and that desire is acted upon as earnestly and as zealously as it was at the last Convention. I feel that the Zionist Organization has a right to come before the Jewish people and demand of it that adherence which the cause it represents so well deserves.
“By reason of the new situation which we will naturally have to confront as a result of the negotiations pending with regard to the Jewish Agency a new future is opening up before our Organization. I think the time is coming when our Organization will have the opportunity to demonstrate to our people that it can function as the chief regenerative influence in our life here in America; that it has within its power to bring a new spirit into all Jewish institutions, insofar as it is the one institution which stands for a concepion of Jewish life that insists upon that life being viewed and lived organically, steadily and whole. With that opportunity before us, and with men such as you on the Administrative Committee, and with the backing that I am sure we shall get from the membership body of the Organization, we have good reason to believe that we are headed for a year of unprecedented achievement.”
Dr. Kaplan, who has gained a wide reputation as a Jewish educator, received his training at the College of the City of New York and at Columbia University. He gained his rabbinical degree from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1902. Dr. Kaplan is known for his advocacy of liberal Judaism, and was the first rabbi to help establish and himself headed the first Jewish center in the United States. Dr. Kaplan founded the Society for the Advancement of Judaism with the program of reinterpreting. Judaism as a modern religious civilization.
The Administrative Committee, composed of forty members, is the ruling body of the national Zionist Organization.
Herman Sehlamavitz, for 28 years court bailiff in the United States Court in Milwaukee, died at the are on 66. He received his appointment during the administration of President MeKinley. Mr. Sehlomovitz was a Talmudie student of recognized standing. He came to America about forty-three years ago.