New Concept of Organized Jewish Life Advocated at Rabbinical Assembly Convention

A new concept of organized Jewish life in American centering on “a voluntary community dedicated to the organic view of Judaism” was advocated here today by Dr. Robert Gordis, addressing 200 Conservative rabbis at the 49th annual convention of the Rabbinical Assembly of America.

The main features of the platform which Rabbi Gordis outlined called for recognition of unity among Jews throughout the world, “Jewish religion as the heart of Jewish expression,” and Israel as the source of creativity to enrich the lives of Jews everywhere.

Dr. Gordis urged American Jewry to remain an active creative element in world Jewish life, but to maintain simultaneously its position as an integral element of the conviction that Jewish education for children and adults must be the central concern and basic enterprise of the type of community advocated by him.

A request that privileges now accorded in Israel to organized Orthodoxy should also be extended to Conservative and Reform religious groups in the Jewish state was voiced at the convention by Rabbi S. Joshua Kohn, of Trenton, N.J., in a report evaluating Zionist activities.

Rabbi Ira Eisenstein, discussing the “New Diaspora and American Democracy,” pointed out that a common religion can and should be evolved out of “our magnificent history as a nation. We must continue to recognize the right of all men to worship religious feeling which is the part of our common heritage,” he declared.

The time is ripe for the development of American democracy, with its holy days, its sacred scriptures, its lofty hopes for itself and for the world,” he said. “If we Jews want to make a contribution to American democracy, we should urged this idea upon the American people. When the American holidays are spiritualized, the best values of religion will be communicated to a vast number of Americans who have held themselves aloof from institutions of religion.” Rebbi Eisenstin also outlined the following program of social action through which Jews, as a religious community, can contribute to the advancement of democracy:

1. American Jewry must develop a truly democratize community in which the ablest rather than the most affluent will command positions of authority.

2. The pulpit must remain free for the articulation of honest opinion.

3. The triumph of the people of Israel in the field of social justice must become the source of religious teaching.

4. The teaching of social justice through the pulpit must be supplemented by active participation in contemporary social issues.

5. Religion can strengthen democracy by developing a individual faith so that the soul is fortified against discouragement and disappointment.

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