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Questions Reform Judaism As Solution for Russian Jews’ Religious Problem

Strong criticism of the recent statement of Dr. Julian Morgenstern, President of the Hebrew Union College, that the only solution to the present Jewish religious problem in Russia is a “true, progressive, moderate, constructive Reform movement in Russia,” is made by Rabbi Louis I. Newman of San Francisco in his last “Telling It in Gath,” an article syndicated to various Jewish weeklies in this country.

Dr. Morgenstern’s opinion that the extremes of orthodoxy and atheism are fighting each other in Russia today among the Jews and that the solution lies in the middle-of-the-road program of Reform Judaism, is characterized by Rabbi Newman as “amazing.”

The Bolshevik dictatorship, which suppresses the freedom of religious practice and prohibits religious instruction to children, cannot be compared to the democracies of America and other Western countries which allow full religious freedom, points out Rabbi Newman.

“Perhaps Dr. Morgenstern means that Russian Reform Judaism would counsel its adherents to be ‘more Bolshevik than Stalin’ in the same way that in America it advises us to be ‘more American than President Hoover’,” says Rabbi Newman. “But no one ever doubts the patriotism and national loyalty of orthodox Jews. America’s first Jewish soldiers in the Revolutionary Army were Spanish-Portuguese orthodox believers. Perhaps Dr. Morgenstern means that Reform Judaism would exclude the possibility of Zionist propaganda in Russia, but it must be remembered that only recently the President of the Hebrew Union College told the Zionist convention at Detroit that the upbuilding of Palestine was in entire consonance with the aims of Reform Judaism.

“Therefore I am at a loss to understand in what respect the propaganda of Reform Judaism would alleviate the persecutions instigated by the Yevseks. Perhaps Dr. Morgenstern, in view of the widespread surprise at his proposal, will wish to explain further.”

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