NEW YORK (Dec. 27)
President Roosevelt’s selection of Dr. Cyrus Adler to cooperate in inter-faith efforts for peace represents the first time within the memory of informed persons that one man was acknowledged by the head of the American Government as the representative of the Jewish religion in the United States.
The President’s action came as a complete surprise to Jewish leaders here. At the Jewish Theological Seminary it was said that no one here had any advance inkling of Mr. Roosevelt’s intention and it was thought that even Dr. Adler, who has not been participating actively in public affairs because of his ill health, may have been taken by surprise when he received the President’s message.
Jewish leaders compared the peace action to the President’s proposal for the Evian refugee conference in 1937 in the way it apparently had originated with Mr. Roosevelt himself and burst upon them without warning. How the Chief Executive came to choose Dr. Adler as the representative of the Jewish religion was similarly not known, but it was the consensus of Conservative, Orthodox and Reform Jews alike that no better choice could have been made.
In the lack of unity in Jewish religious affairs, Dr. Adler’s recognition by President Roosevelt was seen as significant as setting a precedent in the acknowledgment of a single representative of the Jewish religion in this country. This is all the more interesting in view of the fact that Dr. Adler, although president of the Jewish Theological Seminary, is not a rabbi, his training having been in the field of scholarship rather than in theology.