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Convention of Reform Rabbis Defers Action on Ordination of Women

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The Central Conference of American Rabbis, at the final session of its 66th annual convention, deferred until next year any action on the ordination of women. The Reform rabbis forced the withdrawal of a recommendation which would have put the Conference on record as favoring the right of women to become members of the Jewish clergy.

Although Conference president Rabbi Barnett Brickner, original author of the proposal, had asked that the matter of women rabbis be studied for a year, the committee on the presidents message, headed by Rabbi Joseph L. Fink of Buffalo, brought before the body a measure urging the Hebrew Union College, Reform Jewish seminary “to accept women as rabbinical students and grant them ordination upon completion of all requirements of the course of training.”

After a vigorous discussion, the committee’s plan was voted down in favor of a substitute motion calling for a year’s consideration of this complete break with tradition. The leader of the opposition to the more drastic proposal was Rabbi Samuel Freehof of Pittsburgh, former Conference president, who asked for caution “before brushing aside two thousand years of Jewish practice.” The author of the substitute motion, which prevailed, was Rabbi Rosenblum of New York City.

Rabbi Brickner was re-elected president. Dr. Bettan vice-president. The rabbis voted to send a message to President Eisenhower expressing “gratification on his re-commendation for changes in the Refugee Relief Act.” Also adopted was a resolution urging the repeal of the “racist” McCarran-Walter Act and the “substitution of legislation in consonance with the humanitarian principles of our government and nation.”

In other resolutions, the Conference reaffirmed its stand against such “intercultural” programs in the public schools as the joint observance of Christmas and Chanukah; and called upon the President and Secretary of State to “vitalize the traditional policy of friendship for Israel.”

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