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Reform Rabbinical Convention Considers Plan for Centralized Placement of Rabbis

A system of placement for rabbis and congregations affiliated with Liberal Judaism which would avoid “undignified competition” was advocated here today at the 59th annual convention of the Central Conference of American Rabbis by Dr. Louis L. Mann, of Chicago.

To be administered jointly by the Central Conference, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, the plan proposed by Dr. Mann would seek to avoid the “extremism of anarchy, on the one hand, and the extremism of hierarchy on the other.” At present, Liberal Jewish congregations have complete autonomy in the choice of a rabbi, while the rabbis them-selves can apply for pulpit vacancies.

Under Dr. Mann’s plan, the congregations would still maintain autonomy in their ultimate right to choose a rabbi, but would accept suggestions from the placement bureau, and the rabbis would be forbidden to seek pulpit assignments or accept posts without clearance through the special placement committee to be set up jointly by the three groups.

An increase in the membership of Reform Jewish congregations from 59,000 families to well over 100,000 families during the past eight years was reported today by Rabbi Sylvan D. Schwartzman, director of field activities of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations. The number of synagogues affiliated with the U.A.H.C. rose from 305 to 364, Rabbi Schwartzman revealed.

In order to expend its membership to 1,000,000 Jews within the next ten years Rabbi Schwartzman declared, “Liberal Judaism must realistically affirm the centrality of the synagogue, develop an educated and emotionally-inspired membership and an in-formed Jewish laity as a prime “necessity for survival and bring the prophetic teaching of Judaism to bear upon the problems of modern society.”

Rabbi George Zepin reported that 250 rabbis are now enrolled in pension plans with an aggregate fund of $5,000,000. Rabbi Harry Kaplan, director of the Hillel Foundation at Ohio State University, said that there are now Hillel Foundations or programs on 183 college and university campuses throughout the U.S. serving a combined student group of 100,000.

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