Central Rabbis’ Conference to Take Steps to Fight Bible Reading in Public Schools
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Central Rabbis’ Conference to Take Steps to Fight Bible Reading in Public Schools

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The Central Conference of American Rabbis today transferred its proceedings to Newport where the delegates to the 44th annual convention visited Touro Synagogue, the oldest in the country, for services. The invocation was delivered by Rabbi Seidell and addresses were made by President David Lefkowitz, Mayor Sullivan and Judge Levy of Newport. Rabbi Louis Wolsey of Philadelphia today presented the final draft of the new Union Hymnal for revisions.

Measures to fight compulsory reading of the Bible in the public schools and to combat the introduction of religious education and other sectarian activities in the tax-supported schools were taken by the Conference following the reading of the report of the committee on Church and State by Rabbi Edward N. Calisch of Richmond.

Rabbi Calisch’s report told of the defeated attempt to introduce Bible reading in the Memphis schools, the New Jersey bill to allow school time off for religious instruction, the frustrated plan to show the Passion Play in Louisville and in a tax-supported building in San Francisco, in all of which the Conference was concerned. Instances of attempts at Bible reading in the schools of other sections were also cited.


The committee headed by Rabbi Calisch commended the Jewish school rights in Montreal, cited New Orleans as an example of the complete separation of church and state and recommended that “a special committee be appointed to collate arguments, decisions, both in state and Federal courts, concerning the Bible reading question and to prepare an elaborate pamphlet to be printed in large numbers whenever the occasion may arise for its use.” The necessity of a test case in the United States Supreme Court to decide the issue permanently was also stressed.

Rabbi Solomon Foster praised the work and purposes of the Synagogue Council of America. He described the five-year old organization as a promising and progressive Jewish institution fulfilling the practical need of establishing good-will among different Jewish groups. Rabbi Foster said that the Reform group recognizes other groups.

In his report on the Conference’s cooperation with international and national organizations, Rabbi David Lefkowitz, president of the Conference, said that the Conference was represented at the tenth anniversary celebration of the League of Nations, that it had joined the League for the Fixity of the Sabbath and the World Union for Progressive Judaism.


Rabbi Leo Franklin of Detroit saw an increased enrollment of Jews in the colleges and stressed the need for religious education in the universities. He said that the Hillel Foundations were social in purpose and the Menorah societies put slight emphasis on religious life. Rabbi David Bookstaber of Harrisburg advised working through the Jewish fraternities while Rabbi Marvin Nathan of Philadelphia saw a practical plan in separate trained representatives in the colleges with a definite program of action.

The committee on social justice emphasized the importance of intelligent birth regulation in its report but Rabbi Foster attacked the subject as of dubious significance while Rabbi James Heller said there was no more concrete problem at present. It was decided to discontinue the “Union Tidings” magazine. Rabbi Felix Levy of Chicago, advised action regarding the Polish and Russian situations and urged the naturalization of foreign-born Jews immediately.


The thirteen delegates, of the nineteen allowed to the central conference by the World Union for Progressive Judaism, who have already been assigned to the London gathering, are: Rabbi Martin Zielonka, El Paso, Tex.; Rabbi Nathan Stern, New York City; Rabbi H. G. Enelow, New York City; Rabbi Morris Newfield, Birmingham, Ala.; Rabbi Felix A. Levy, Chicago; Rabbi Harry J. Stern, Montreal; Rabbi I. E. Marcuson, Macon, Ga.; Rabbi Leo M. Franklin, Detroit; Rabbi Julian Morgenstern, president Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati; Rabbi Samuel Shillman, Wheeling, W. Va.; Rabbi Laurence E. B. Kahn, Lexington, Ky.; Rabbi Ferdinand Isserman, St. Louis, and Dr. Lefkowitz.

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