Menu JTA Search

Conservative Rabbis Ask Shorter School Day to Permit Religious Teaching

Resolutions urging a shorter school day permit time for religious education, reaffirming adherence to democracy and endorsing the Wagner-Rogers child refugees bill were put before the 39th annual convention of the Rabbinical Assembly of America today by its Social Justice Committee.

Reporting for the committee to more than 100 Conservative rabbis gathered at the Clarendon-Brunswick Hotel, Rabbi Isadore B. Hoffman urged the shortened school day to “make it possible for families to give their children an adequate religious education without overburdening the child’s daily program.” On the ground that the public school should be “the central agency for the building of the American nation” the committee opposed “any such step as the segregation of children along religious lines or the dismissal of children for denominational religious instruction during the school day,” as has been proposed in some quarters.

The resolution on democracy declared “The practice of Judaism requires devotion to the democratic ideal. We repudiate all forms of totalitarianism and dictatorship of the Right or of the Left. We emphasize the constitutional guarantees of freedom contained in the American Bill of Rights and reject any theory or effort to abridge the privilege of every American of whatever race, color or creed to work peaceably for any political principles or party.”

The recommendation regarding refugees urged the rabbis’ cooperation in obtaining consent from as many families as possible to take a child refugee into their homes. The convention held special religious services to mark Independence Day and the fast day of the Seventeenth of Tammuz.

Last night, Dr. Simon Greenberg, in his presidential message, condemned Britain’s new Palestine policy, but warned against those who “adopt violence as a path of Jewish emancipation.”

“We consider the policy enumerated in the recent White Paper published by the Colonial Office of the British Government as a most unjustifiable breach of the sacred pledge offered to a physically defenseless people by a mighty nation at a most solemn hour in its own history,” he said. “With all the fervor of our souls we pray that the determination of all Jews to continue their constructive work in Palestine in justice and peace will not be marred by those whose strained nerves and misguided minds may lead them to adopt violence as a path of Jewish emancipation. For those who turn to these paths we have but utter condemnation.”

Dr. Greenberg also urged rabbis to “assume a more definite position of leadership in Jewish life.” He said “For the promotion of better understanding in America the rabbis who address thousands of gatherings annually are the great natural channel through which goodwill among faiths can express itself.”

Dr. Louis Finkelstein, provost of the Jewish Theological Seminary, declared that “the time has come when we must reassert the primary of religious faith in man’s spiritual life and recognize that knowledge may lead to destruction unless it is combined with faith.” Other speakers at the opening session were Dr. Max Arzt, vice-president of the assembly; Dr. Robert Gordis and Dr. Israel M. Goldman. A greeting was read from Dr. Cyrus Adler, president of the Seminary. Others who greeted the convention were Louis J. Moss, president of the United Synagogue of America, and Miss Sarah Kussy, vice-president of the Women’s League of the United Synagogue.

NEXT STORY