Washington (Apr. 8)
Three hundred delegates and visitors are in attendance at the opening of the Third Bi-ennial Convention of the National Federation of Temple Brothers, the organization of the Reform temple membership in the United States. The convention was continued on Monday when a delegation was to be received by President Hoover. Sessions are being held at the Mayflower Hotel here.
Roger W. Straus, president, reported on the progress of the work during the past two years. He has been president of the organization since its establishment in 1923. The federation grew in membership during the period under review, having 120 brotherhoods affiliated with it. A thirty-five per cent increase has been registered during the past two years. (Continued on Page 4) (Continued from Page 1)
“We begin to feel a strength and maturity. The brotherhood movement has already proved in positive terms the part which it can and does play in tying the American Jewish laity closer to the synagogue,” Mr. Straus declared.
The line of demarcation between the Orthodox and the Reform is growing vaguer and dimmer, was the contention of Isidore Wise of Cincinnati, former editor of the “American Israelite,” and son of the late Dr. Isaac M. Wise, founder of Reform Judaism in the United States.
“Within the past six months, definite progress has been made toward a better understanding of what we owe to our religion as Jews, and not as partisans of any particular method of interpretation or prescribed ceremonials or practices,” he said. “No one can look upon this gathering without feeling assured in his soul that the future of Judaism is not only secure, but bright and promising, as it should be.”
The establishment in Washington of a National Temple for Reform Judaism was again urged in the address of welcome to the delegates delivered by Leon Pretzfelder. The proposal was greeted with cheers.
A symposium on “The Voice of the Jewish Laity” was held. It was participated in by Alexander Cahn of New Haven, who commented on the results of the recent survey on religious affiliations made among the membership; Hugo Levy, of Brooklyn, Dr. Harold Korn of New York, and Dr. Leon Mones of Newark, N. J.
The convention was greeted by Ludwig Vogelstein, chairman of the Executive Board of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations.
Higher education has become a force and influence which religion itself must counter within pressure and allurement sufficient to overcome, Mr. Cahn told the National Federation of Temple Brotherhoods, in reporting the conclusion drawn from the replies to the Federation’s recent survey questionnaire on religious backgrounds and reactions to the Temple.
As regards the reaction of the university graduates when compared with those not having had university training, a higher type and degree of religious devotion and affiliation and desire for congregational contact is found in the latter, Mr. Cahn said.
The survey responses showed that 75 per cent of those replying had formal religious training and that 25 per cent of those replying had university training, he added.
Irrespective, however, of whatever conclusion may be drawn, he said, it is at least gratifying that there is a dominant desire on the part of many to modify and adjust our present devotional practice in order to lead to a uniform inspiring, stimulating and truthful form of devotion, a form which shall be not only filled with the kernel of religious inner consciousness but shall be surrounded with a shell of conduct radiating the brotherhood of man.
And more than that this desire emanates from no particular class. It blossoms from the young and the old, the single and the married, the educated, the uneducated, the super-educated.
The attributes of frankness and individualism of our people were never more completely demonstrated than in this outpouring of soul wounds and suggested cures. Unlimited latitude and opportunity were given to express in one’s own language and manner, those innermost emotions which are normally suppressed for fear of becoming a disturbing factor in that great easy-moving machine, termed Society.
The survey is the result of many months of intensive effort and research and is in its present form merely a finding of facts upon which ultimately a judgment shall be handed down. It is to be likened to a snarled and tangled skein of yarn which, before it may be woven into the final fabric, must be thoroughly disentangled an dunsnarled but without breakage of fibre.
This task of unwinding falls, he said, on the symposium. Here will be set out by both Rabbi and layman their reaction and mind resultants, their means of co-ordinating the facts which have been brought forth, so that a graph and its applied equation shall be evolved, showing the law or laws upon which we shall rely to bring to fruition the longed-for Eden of wholesouled devotion to which we aspire, he said.
All aspects of this question will be treated and from every angle, and if, forsooth, no remedy is found, then we may still be militant and unsubmissive. For wanton abandonment, nay, even ordinary abandonment, of these aims were a sacrilege in the sight of God and of this let us not be guilty, he declared.
The Federation’s survey, concluded recently, is said to have yielded the highest percentage of responses ever received in a similar field and is characterized as the first of its particular kind, a research into the religious background and attitude of men toward the Temple.
Mr. Cahn is chairman of the committee which conducted the survey.