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The Reader’s Forum

The editors reserve the right to excerpt all letters exceeding 500 words in length. All letters must bear the name and address of the writer, although not necessarily for publication

August 28, 1934.

To the Editor, Jewish Daily Bulletin:

It is because I have such a high opinion of your publication, in fact I regard it as the most extensively and properly read Jewish publication in New York City, that I address you in the following matter.

There passed to his immortal award recently our distinguished citizen, Marcus M. Marks, who for years rendered a service of civic value of enduring significance. I knew him personally through many years and often had the privilege of working with them in his personal and civic enterprises. My personal reaction at his final passing affects in no way my appreciation and admiration. It is a matter of extensive import to the people to whom he owed his best inheritance and who constitute the bulk of your vast reading clientele.

Mr. Marks had been identified for years with the Ethical Culture Societies of New York City. While I regard this as poor judgment from the standpoint of one who knows the implications of Liberal Judaism, I respect his courage and conviction if these determined his defection from Jewish affiliation. Mr. Marks was buried as an Ethical Culturist under the services of Dr. John Lovejoy Elliott, leader of that Society. Here again I find no fault with the counsels of consistency. As long as Mr. Marks was an Ethical Culturist he was properly buried under the auspices of that Church.

I do question seriously however, the propriety of the interment of the body of Mr. Marks in a distinctly Jewish cemetery. Should a Jew join either the Protestant or the Catholic Church and at death be brought for burial in a Jewish cemetery, should he be acceptable? If so, is not the implication that Jewish identification need not imply religious commitment? It may only signify racial identification such as the ignorance or wilful presumption of Hitlerism maintains. It is about time that protest be made for which I am willing to stand against excessive laxity in Jewish life with regard to things Jewish. If a Jewish cemetery is not to represent, as in many cases it fails to do, a consistent identification with Jewish ideals, why should there not be an extensive recourse of many Jews to non-sectarian cemeteries? This very thing is happening. I personally know of numerous instances.

Laxity of identification in consequence of a very elastic usage of the term “Jewish” is one of the besetting evils of Jewish life that is a weakening influence that ought to be taken seriously in hand and properly treated.

I submit this for the serious consideration of your vast number of Jewish readers who, I would say incidentally, should steadily grow. Your publication is rendering a service of inestimable worth to the welfare of the Jewish people.

Alexander Lyons,

Eighth Avenue Temple,

Brooklyn, N. Y.

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