Rabbis, Sociologist Clash on Significance of Religious Revival

Two leading Orthodox rabbis asserted last night that the revival of religion in the United States was a meaningful one. Their view was opposed by a rabbinically-ordained sociologist who called the revival “essentially superficial” and founded on “such weak props as social conformity and secular popularity.”

Participants in the debate, held at the opening session of the Young Israel Institute for Jewish Studies here, were Rabbi Solomon Sharfman, president of the Rabbinical Council of America; Rabbi Emanuel Rackman, past president of the New York Board of Rabbis and Yeshiva University faculty member, and Dr. Bernard M. Lander, director of the Yeshiva University Graduate School.

Rabbi Sharfman argued that “the farce of materialism” had left man adrift and that as a consequence “he is returning to the true values of his traditionally ancestral faith.” One result, he said, was that “Orthodox Judaism is experiencing a form of revival which is most assuring for the future development of a dynamic Judaism.”

Rabbi Rackman said traditional religion was “permeating the daily behavioral patterns of an increasing number of adherents of all faiths” and he cited in proof of Jewish return the “growth of the all-day school enrollment, increase in congregational membership, greater respect for the Sabbath and a host of other things.”

Dr. Lander replied that it was “fashionable” for suburban community residents “to join a neighborhood synagogue or community center for purposes of communal identification. These joiners have never committed themselves to the eternal and all-engrossing verities of a deeply-rooted religious experience.”

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