United Synagogue Council Urged at Reform Rabbis’ Conference

A growing movement for Jewish unity, which evidenced itself in the Pittsburgh Agreement for coordination of Jewish defense activities, came to the fore at the opening of the 49th annual meeting of the Central Conference of American Rabbis when President Max C. Currick, of Erie, Pa., urged the uniting of Reform, Orthodox and Conservative Jews in a strengthened Synagogue Council for the performance of the “solemn tasks” now confronting world Jewry.

“The Synagogue need not establish its right to speak and act,” Rabbi Currick in his Presidential message, told the more than 200 Liberal rabbis who gathered at the Hotel Chelsea. “Even most of the unsynagogued would readily have conceded it before this, had we boldly and ably exercised it.”

Pointing out that the different branches of American Judaism must join hands if this contribution of the Synagogue is to be made possible, Rabbi Currick recommended that local synagogue councils be organized in every community to stimulate and direct Jewish religious life, that a general convention or council bringing together the representatives of the congregations of all three branches be called at stated intervals, that one of the first questions studied and one of the first problems attacked by the strengthened organization should be the problem of the unsynagogued, that the reorganized Synagogue Council be provided with ampler funds to enable it to conduct not only such work as it has already undertaken but also a much wider program of systematic activity..,” and that a full time executive and a permanent headquarters be established for this reorganized Synagogue Council.

The keynote of unity pervaded speeches today in a paper on “The Primacy of the Synagogue–How Can it be reestablished?” Dr. David Lefkowitz, of Dallas, said: “To reestablish the primacy of the synagogue it is necessary to bring to some terms of cooperation those groups which have been too busy fortifying their respective positions against each other rather than against their common enemy, the secularism and the materialism rampant in the world and stopping at nothing in the way of cruelty and hate.” Dr. Bernard J. Bamberger, of Albany, in a paper on “Factors in the History of the Synagogue,” declared that “the synagogue may assume primacy in contemporary Jewish life, but if it does so, the form and character of such primacy will be very different from what it was in the time past.”

Rabbi Samuel Whole, Cincinnati, in a report of the committee on the synagogue and community, this afternoon advocated establishment of “preaching missions” teams of two or three rabbis to visit communities and preach Jewish religious values. He also recommended organization of a religious public relations council to furnish news and features of a Jewish religious nature to the press.

Robert P. Goldman, in an address tonight, said: “The synagogue must be implemented and made an even more vital force in America than it has been in the past. The Jew must perform his normal daily life as a citizen of this great and free America and must make his contribution to it to the utmost of his ability in all fields. He must now be cowed by a demagogue nor must he be continually looking over his shoulder.”

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