U.S. Synagogues Face Secular Influence Invasion, Rabbis Assembly Hears

An invasion of secularism in the synagogue in the United States has created a menace which threatens to drive out the Jewish God-idea and bring into Jewish religious life a confusion unparalleled in the history of the ancient Jewish institution. This statement was made by Rabbi Israel Goldstein of New York at the second day’s session of the annual convention of the Rabbinical Assembly at the close of a paper reviewing present day conditions in the synagogue, entitled: “The Menace of Secularization.” Rabbi Goldstein addressed himself particularly to the recent developments in synagogue life and called forth wide applause on the part of the majority of the rabbis in attendance.

Eight factors were enumerated by Rabbi Goldstein as the causes for this threatening condition. They are: a presumptious lay leadership, overreaching building ambition, the institution of the synagogue center, the apotheosis of charity, secular Zionism, secular sermons and cantatas, social distinction in the pew and Babbittry in the pulpit. Rabbi Goldstein stated that the role played by the Jewish laity and its interference with the rabbinate exceeds the claims and the liberties taken by the Christian laity in the Christian churches.

“The rabbinate has never been an ecclesiastical hierarchy, but even without institutional prerogatives the rabbi enjoyed authority at the hands of the laity which respected his scholarship and his piety. It may be that some modern rabbis have forfeited that respect. The whole truth, however, is that with the dissipation of homogeneous ghetto-ized Jewish communal life, the disciplinary forces of Jewish law have become dissipated and conse- (Continued on Page 4)

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Speaking of the effect of these influences on the main sale of the synagogue and on its histories task. Rabbi Goldstein stated that these influences rend to bellttle the central power of the instruction, the Jewish God-idea.

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