‘mushroom’ Evil Draws Blast from Chicago Orthodox Union

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An open letter to Chicago Jewry from the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations of Chicago warns against the “shameful phenomenon of the ‘mushroom synagogue, whereby dance halls and gambling dens are proclaimed as houses of worship by the soulless individuals to whom they are just another source of profit.”

“The ‘mushroom synagogue,” the letter continues, “appear overnight and as quickly disappear, meanwhile working havoc upon the true synagogue, where daily prayer is offered up and the Torah is studied, where various charities are practiced and where the Jew brings his ‘simchas,’ Bar Mitzvahs and weddings as well as sorrows, expressed in the Kaddish and memorial services.

“It gives us great satisfaction to know that the overwhelming majority of Chicago Jews have taken the proper attitude to the ‘mushroom synagogue’ and, through their boycott of them, have succeeded in driving from Chicago Jewish life the irresponsible persons to whom the holiest days of the year were but a sordid business proposition.

“Unfortunately, however, there still remain a few such in our midst. For the most part they are chanters of prayer, who, according to Jewish law, are not worthy to stand before the Ark. They seemingly have no reverence for that which is most sacred in our religion. They hire halls for but three days in the year, put up blatant signs calling Jews to prayer and mask the true nature of the halls by assuming high-sounding names to take in the unwary.

“We appeal to the Jews of Chicago to continue the sacred battle to eradicate this evil from our midst. Do not lessen the glory of the High Holidays. Do not corrupt the spiritual beauty of our prayers. Do not be misled by the unscrupulous who seek only the profit, not caring that they also achieve the destruction of Judaism.”

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