LONG BRANCH, N. J. (Jul. 7)
Traditional Judaism demands restatement if not reinterpretation with authority to the American Jew who looks to the rabbi for spiritual leadership, Louis J. Moss of Brooklyn, president of the United Synagogue of America, told the convention of the Rabbinical Assembly of America.
“There are certain practices hallowed, as it were, by tradition which do not find root in the fundamental tenets of our faith, but which derive their sanction from antiquity and long usage.” Mr. Moss declared. “We must not refuse to re-examine them in the light of present day knowledge and experience with the purpose of determining their present value and import. There is no reason for clinging to outworn traditions in the belief that what was good yesterday will be good enough tomorrow.”
The convention was opened yesterday with opening prayers by Rabbi Nathan Blechman, a brief word of greeting by Rabbi Elias Margolies of Mount Vernon, chairman of the convention committee, and cabled greetings from Dr. Cyrus Adler, president of the Jewish Theological Seminary, who is now in Basle.
Prof. Louis Ginsberg of the Jewish Theological Seminary urged the rabbis to emphasize responsibility to American Israel rather than to individual congregations. He pleaded that Jewish scholars should stress Bible study which Christian scholars now monopolize. A symposium on Jewish Nationalism and Conservative Judaism was led by Dr. Max Kadushin of Chicago, Rabbi David Aronson of Minneapolis, and Rabbi Harry Cohen of Jacksonville.
In discussing the presidential address of Rabbi Israel Levinthal, Rabbi Louis Finkelstein, urged the Assembly to take authority in religious matters courageously and to deal with Jewish social and ritual problems as they come up. He urged that the Assembly’s committee on Jewish law interpretation should designate qualified rabbinical courts to decide Jewish questions with dignity and with due regard to the demands of modern life.
Rabbi Milton Steinberg of Indianapolis and Rabbi Simon Greenberg of Philadelphia demanded that the Jewish Theological Seminary should take a more progressive attitude. Rabbis Jacob Katz and Alexander Basel, both of the Bronx, deprecated the practice of New York Orthodox rabbis to call upon city and state authorities to enforce Jewish dietary laws as undignified. Rabbi Max Drob of Philadelphia defended the practice on the plea that it combated swindlers.