NEW ORLEANS (Jan. 15)
More than five hundred lay and religious leaders from various parts of the country, meeting here at the opening session of the 35th council of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, heard speakers at a worship discussion this afternoon agree that drastic steps must be taken to improve the services of the Reform synagogue.
Albert F. Mocklonburgor, of Chicago, presiding at the session, said that “our rabbis have become preachers rather than teachers.” Dr. Louis Witt, Layton, emphasized the importance of prayer. He stressed the threefold objective of translating prayer into symbol and ceremonial, putting more worship into the home and creating a literature of prayer for private and daily use.
Dr. Jacob Singer, Chicago, speaking on “The Music of Our Worship,” said that “we must recondition our people to an understanding and love for their own music.” Oscar Steiner, Cleveland, said that the synagogue service must offer greater eye and ear appeal. Rabbi Irving Reichert, San Francisco, declaring that “most of the preaching being done in America today is appallingly mediocre,” asked that preachers be freed from many extraneous and energy consuming tasks.
The convention, which will comprise five days of discussion meetings, round tables, business meetings and social events, was opened this morning by Jacob W. Mack, chairman of the union’s executive board, who welcomed the delegates and delivered the opening message.
The council is meeting at the Hotel Roosevelt jointly with the twelfth biennial assembly of the National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods and the seventh biennial convention of the National Federation of Temple Brotherhoods. All participated in this afternoon’s session. Sabbath services were scheduled at Sinai Synagogue this evening, with Rabbi Edgar F. Magnin, Los Angeles, preaching. Samuel B. Finkol, president of the Brotherhoods, in a message to the convention said that “Reformed Judaism must become a vital part of the lives of its adherents,” He advocated a mood of critical self-analysis and scored attempts to make the Jewish religion conform to the supposed needs of the Jew in the modern world.
Criticizing attempts to bring religion to the level of the masses instead of bringing the masses to the level of religion, he said:
“There may be new models of automobiles, but there cannot be now models of religion. We do not want any Father Coughlins in our rabbinate. If there is to be any fist-shaking, let it be in the cause of religion.”