Religious Problems of American Jewry Discussed at Inauguration of H.U.C. President
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Religious Problems of American Jewry Discussed at Inauguration of H.U.C. President

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The complaint that Jewish welfare funds throughout the country allocated “niggardly sums” to national Jewish religious institutions ###d organizations was voiced here today by Dr. Maurice N. Eisendrath, president of ##he Union of American Hebrew Congregations, at the opening of a three-day program marking the inauguration of Dr. Nelson Glueck as the fourth president of Hebrew Union College.

Dr. Eisendrath called it “a startling fact” that less than one percent of ### the monies raised by the Jewish communities throughout the country is allocated towards national religious purposed., He said: “Out of the tens of millions raised ##or overseas and local needs by our welfare funds and federations, the allocation ### national Jewish religious institutions fell from the magnificent fraction of ### in 1945 to 03 in 1946, while the figure for 1947 when it is finally compiled, will in all likelihood fall still lower and may approach the vanishing point.”

Rabbi Philip Bernstein of Rochester, speaking on the preservation of American Judaism, stated that although there is a high degree of non-observance of formal Judaism among young Jewish people’ throughout the world, “most Jews are fondly and firmly attached to the memories and the ceremonies of Judaism.” He urged a Judaism of the future in which “there must be a central emphasis on tradition.The mistakes of early rationalistic Reform Judaism must be abandoned,” he said.He ###de a plea for greater traditional ritual.

Dr. Louis Binstock of Chicago declared that “American Jewry will not survive as a separate political entity, as a distinct secular culture or civilization, ##or through philanthropy, nor through Jewish defense organizations.” The survival of the American synagogue, he said, is dependent upon the elimination of “the neurotic trends it displays, tortured as it is by its past, tired in its present, timid about its future.”


Dr. Mordecai Kaplan of New York urged the “deforestation” of the Torah tradition. “Jewish tradition,” he said, “must achieve a new life-and-thought pattern that is dynamic rather than static. Jewish tradition must be rendered sufficiently plastic to include a vast range of theoretic and practical content in order that {SPAN}##it{/SPAN} may conform to the dynamic frame of modern life. It must have due regard for ?all the needs of human nature and lay great emphasis upon detailed guidance.”

Dr. Abraham A. Neuman of Philadelphia, president of Dropsie College, analyzing the place of religion in contemporary life, stated: “The need for filling our life with greater spiritual content is not limited to modern Jewry. There is spiritual hunger abroad in the world and sickness has affected the soul of man. Civilization is starved spiritually at the roots, and the result has been mass, moral stultification. The problems that plague society on all levels–personal, national and international–are being increasingly recognized as manifestations of lack of spiritual faith.”

Dr. Samuel S. Cohon, professor of Jewish theology at Hebrew Union College, said that “a paper wall is being erected between Jewish scholars and the people.” As a consequence, he added, the place of Judaism in the world’s religions “is inadequately understood by most of our people.” The science of Judaism thus narrows itself down and grows obsolescent for the Jewish people, he pointed out.

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