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Rabbis Urge Change in Divorce Law

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A recommendation that the Rabbinical Assembly modify the traditional Jewish marriage and divorce laws was made by Dr. Louis Epstein of Brookline, Mass., at yesterday’s session of the Assembly’s three-day convention at Rockaway Park.

As head of the committee authorized to draw up the changes, Dr. Epstein recommended that the traditional law under which a woman cannot get a religious divorce be modified in the following manner: at the time of the marriage, the groom must assign to the bride the right to get a divorce should he ab### himself from her for at least three years or fail to support her for that period. If a civil divorce is granted, this change will give the women, under Jewish law, the same privileges she enjoys under the civil law. The suggested revision overcomes the problem of Agunah (deserted wife who cannot get a divorce or remarry under the Jewish religoius law.)

BIRTH CONTROL PERMISSIBLE

Dr. Julius Greenstone of Philadelphia, reporting for the committee on Jewish law, said it found that on the subject of birth control, the law may be interpreted as not opposing the use of contraceptives when health is involved.

Rabbi Abraham Heller of Brooklyn, in his report of the Palestine committee, urged that group membership in Zionist organizations be established to give the synagogue the opportunity to exert direct influence in the movement.

The morning session of the convention was devoted to a discussion of “Judaism as a Civilization,” a book by Dr. Mordecai M. Kaplan #abbi Alexander Basel of the Bronx and Dr. Max Arzt of Scranton, Pa., expressed their views and were answered by the author. Dr. Kaplan making religion only a part of Judaism, saying that religion can no more be separated from Jewish life “than whiteness from snow or redness from blood.”

Dr. Kaplan, in replying, declared that “Conservative Judaism is an unfortunate term, and a misnomer. It is generally intended to describe the Judaism of those who are neither Orthodox nor Reformist, as a compromise affair, a sort of fifty-fifty proposition. In reality, Conservative Judaism is Judaism in search of a philosophy. Its ad##rents would constitute the most pr##sing material for a functioning and vigorous Jewish life it they would achieve the right philosophy. They might find what they are looking for, if they would consider the possibilities inherent in the conception of Judaism as a civilization.”

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