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Orthodox Rabbis of Poland Oppose Government’s Plan of Jewish Religious Council

The conference of Polish orthodox rabbis discussed yesterday the plans of the Polish government, first, the demand that all rabbis should know Polish, and second, the plan to organize an all-Polish Jewish religious council, which should be the final authority in all Jewish religious matters. The famous rabbi, “Chofetz Chaim,” presided.

All the rabbis spoke against both proposals. They claimed that the requirement that all rabbis know Polish would, if carried out, be a death blow for hundreds of rabbis, especially on the Polish border-districts, and would have fatal consequences for the religious life of the Jewish masses, since they would remain without leaders. The only task of rabbis, they declared, is to be religious, not worldly, leaders.

As to a Jewish religious council clothed with authority, the rabbis declared that the only authority in these matters is the Torah and that rabbis who are supposed to uphold the Torah cannot be influenced by external factors, which would be unavoidable were a religious council established. For this reason, too, they oppose the plan of the government to establish a seminary for rabbis and “melamdim” (Hebrew teachers).

The conference of rabbis decided to appeal to the Polish government to ameliorate the recently-adopted Sunday closing law for Jewish Sabbath observers by allowing the latter to engage in trade on Sunday for several hours. Otherwise, they declare, the Sunday closing law may have dire consequences for the economic situation of the Jewish masses and their religious life.

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