Overseas Philanthropy Must Not Weaken U.S. Jewish Religious Institutions, Rabbis Say

American Jewish religious and cultural institutions must not be allowed to suffer from improper support through an overemphasis on overseas philanthropy, three leading American rabbis declared at the annual dinner last night at the Hotel Statler of the New York Federation of Reform Synagogues. The speakers were Dr. Abba Hillel Silver, Dr. Julius Mark, senior rabbi of Temple Emanuel, and Dr. Maurice N. Eisendrath, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations. The dinner was attended by 400 leaders of the 49 Reform Jewish congregations in the Greater New York area.

“The establishment of Israel,” Dr. Silver said, “has in no way diminished the primary and continuing obligation and opportunity of Jewish life, the development of a more affirmative religious cultural life in the United States. The establishment of the state of Israel was an act of historic necessity for our people, but it does not represent the consummation of Jewish destiny. It has contributed a larger measure of security and confidence to Jewish life, and therefore, has brightened the prospects for a spiritual renascence among our people. But the profound meaning of Jewish history lies in Judaism. The destiny of our people is linked with the progressive establishment of the good society on earth, in accordance with the ethical and spiritual principles of our prophetic religion.”

Declaring that we must continue our philanthropic endeavors for the displaced Jews of Europe and the upbuilding of Israel, Dr. Silver said: “Increasingly our energies and our resources should be poured into the permanent and positive spiritual and cultural institutions and enterprises of Judaism. Millions of Jews will live in Israel in the days to come; millions more will live outside of Israel. It is the religion of Judaism which will unite them, not any political bonds.”

Dr. Eisendrath pointed out that only 4/10 of one percent of the monies raised by American Jewish welfare funds is allocated for religious, cultural and educational Purposes. “We may be destroying the very soul and heart – and, in time, the body, too – of American Jewry in the process of saving Jews elsewhere,” ho said. While declaring that overseas philanthropy and rehabilitation, and the development of Israel, must continued, he emphasized that “American religious and cultural institutions cam no longer be ruthlessly shoved aside, at first ostensibly for a single year’s special emergency, only to discover that over-zealous philanthropic leaders would make this emergency self-perpetuating and eternal.” Dr. Mark called for “a militant crusading spirit” in Reform Judaism and among Reform Jews.

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