Convention of American Reform Rabbis Warns Against “theocratic Tendencies” in Israel

A warning against any form of theocracy in Israel was sounded by Dr. Abraham J. Feldman, of Hartford, Conn., in his presidential address today opening the 60th anniversary convention of the Central Conference of American Rabbis.

Speaking before the largest and oldest rabbinical organization in the United States, Dr. Feldman told almost 500 Reform rabbis that despite disavowals of theocratic tendencies by the Minister of Religion of the Israeli Government, and by the Chief Rabbi, that there is a refusal “to give religious freedom to the Liberal Jewish communities in Israel,”

Pointing out that he did not “want to add to the problems of the Government of Israel at this critical time,” Dr. Feldman urged the assembled rabbis to send “an appropriately-worded representation to men like President Chain Weizmann and Premier David Ben Gurion for a fair and just consideration “of this matter by their government.”

Dr. Feldman reported that there are three Liberal congregations in Israel, ## each in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa. These number some six to seven hundred “families, largely new refugees. To support his contention of discrimination against literal Judaism in Israel, Dr. Feldman noted that “of the three rabbis in charge of_ these congregations, Drs. Elk in Haifa, and Rosenberg in Tel Aviv, have no standing before the rabbinical courts, and are not permitted to officiate at weddings without Orthodox supervision.”

Dr. Feldman urged that Liberal Judaism in America make funds available to the literal congregations in Israel. He also urged greater support of the religious and cultural aspects of Jewish life in the United States. He said that the religious Institutions of American Judaism must be maintained “not on the resent starvation diet, but adequately.” He expressed the belief that there is a developing religious interest, especially among young Jews throughout the United States, and urged the expansion of the activities of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and the Hebrew, Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in the field of the ‘propagation of our Jewish faith.”

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