Convention of Reform Rabbis Hears Glowing Report on Judaism in U.S.
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Convention of Reform Rabbis Hears Glowing Report on Judaism in U.S.

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An optimistic picture on the continued growth of Judaism in the United States was given here today at the opening session of the 67th annual convention of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, which represents the spiritual leaders of 530 Reform Jewish congregations in this country.

“The forces making for Jewishness are greater in America today than they have ever been,” Rabbi Barnett R. Brickner, president of the CCAR, said in his presidential address. “More temples and synagogues, and Jewish centers and schools are being built. More Jewish children are today receiving Jewish education from the level of the Sunday school to the more intensive level of the day school.

“In fact,” he continued, “the demand for rabbis, Jewish teachers and communal workers far outstrips the supply. Native born Jewish scholars are coming to the fore who did not go to European academies to be trained. Scholarly works are coming off the presses that are comparable to those produced in Europe. And an American Jewish literature in English, Yiddish and even in Hebrew is appearing.”

Dr. Brickner added that the religious reawakening that the country is now experiencing poses major questions for religious leaders. He reported that the Reform movement had tripled its membership in the last decade, making “the recruitment of rabbis and religious school teachers a number one problem to which we must address ourselves with dedication.”


The president of the organization of Reform rabbis strongly criticized the United States policy in the Middle East. “No one who has followed our government’s Middle East policy can help but observe that it is not a policy but an improvisation reflecting expedient appeasement and moral decline,” Rabbi Brickner declared. He attributed the Administration’s “do nothing policy” to the following reason:

“1. We are aware of the decline of British and French power in the Near East, and we would like to fill that political vacuum. Therefore, we are reluctant to do anything that might antagonize the Arabs. 2. The largest single American investment abroad is in Arab oil holdings and we do not wish to risk any course that might jeopardize them. 3. This is a Presidential election year when the Administration is particularly anxious to preserve the impression of peace and prosperity and prays that nothing will happen to mar this picture. An outbreak of fighting this summer might have disastrous consequences on the election period. Therefore, the Administration is determined to maintain the status quo without any move suggesting inconvenience, imposition or intervention.”

Dr. Brickner warned that the Arab states, hoping for the re-election of the President and the continuation of the Dulles policy, will remain quiescent this summer so as to raise no doubts as to the President’s effectiveness as a man of peace, but will launch a bitter onslaught this fall against Israel on the political and propaganda fronts. He urged the immediate sale of defensive arms to Israel to “deter aggressive action by Egypt and other Arab states.” He urged also that the State Department take a “firm stand” against the discrimination by Saudi Arabia against American Jewish citizens.

The CCAR president sharply condemned “extremist groups among rabbis and laymen” who are seeking “to destroy American Jewish unity and to fractionalize Jewish life in America.” He singled out for criticism “Orthodox rabbis who do not deign to recognize Reform and Conservative rabbis as rabbis and who refuse to cooperate in any communal undertaking in which Reform and Conservative rabbis participate” and members of the American Council for Judaism “who have illogically charged those of us who are concerned with Israel as being faithless to America.”

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