KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Jun. 22)
The 59th annual convention of the Central Conference of American Rabbis opened here tonight with some 500 rabbis in attendance. The parley will continue through Sunday.
In his presidential address; Rabbi Abraham J. Feldman expressed approval of the recent Supreme Court decision holding released time religious instruction in the public schools unconstitutional. Asserting that “religious education is a unique prerogative, responsibility and duty of the religious institution”, Rabbi Feldman said that religious leaders should welcome the decision because every attempt to take religious education out of the church or synagogue schools “in effect disassociates also the people’s identification with the congregation.”
He also suggested that councils of religious education he set up in all communities composed of Christians and Jews–to unite in a program of reaching more people with religious instruction. “Were we to do that,” he insisted, “I am confident that we could create a revival which will be all the more blessed because we shall have done it as people of faith, without the aid and embarrassment of such aid from the State, without any entangling alliances and with a demonstration of the meaningfulness of religion, free and uninvolved, each under his own standard and sacred symbol.”
Turning specifically to matters of Jewish faith, Dr. Feldman deplored the efforts of secular agencies striving for leadership in the administration of Jewish affairs to relegate the synagogue to pastoral functions. He called for an end to the “half century of debate on the subject of Zionism” now that Israel has been established. Finally, he deplored “an ominous restlessness” among rabbis and congregational leaders and urged that discontent and misunderstandings between the rabbis and congregations be resolved by use of the Conference’s arbitration machinery, adoption by congregations of rabbinical tenure systems, as well as other methods.