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.)

To the Editor, Jewish Daily Bulletin:

For many years the Tract Commission of the C. C. A. R. has been issuing releases to the secular press throughout the entire country, prior to our Jewish holidays, with the purpose of acquainting our non-Jewish friends with the beauty, the sublimity and the spiritual appeal of our holidays. The Commission has thus established for itself a rightful Hazaka for this work….

The Tract Commission has just issued newspaper releases which breathe the spirit of denominational propaganda rather than that of enlightened information. The height of folly is evidenced in this year’s release…. The last paragraph of this oracle reads … as follows:

“With the coming of the modern era in Jewish life this idea of the festival as a Day of Judgment has been greatly developed. Self-examination, self-criticism, repentance and reconciliation with men and God became the chief values of the day; they are especially dominant in the Reform Jewish liturgy, making it a New Year of the heart rather than of the Calendar.”

For fear that the morning newspapers would not copy this wisdom, the Commission suggests an alternate text for their columns:

“Emphasis was laid upon the New Year as a day for self-examination and reflection upon past deeds—a day upon which man should search the inner recesses of his heart and sincerely resolve to turn from the misdeeds of the past year. This idea runs through almost every prayer of the Reform Jewish ritual of the day.”

Here the Gentiles are incorrectly informed that Reform Jews (who by the way constitute very much less than ten per cent. of the Jewish population of this country) have a dominant monopoly on such sublime religious values as self-examination, self-criticism, repentance and reconciliation with man and God. If the learned author of these epistles would take the trouble to procure a Hebrew Machzor, he would be surprised to discover that our forefathers stressed the values of repentance, self-criticism, etc., even before the latter day revelation of the Union Prayerbook….

It is too bad that a Commission which issues news items should be so oblivious of the facts of contemporary Jewish life. The Tract Commission has proven that it is greatly in need not only of self-examination and self-criticism but also of repentance.

Cordially yours,

Max Arzt.

Scranton, Pa.

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