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Jewish Stand on Segregation Issue Discussed at Rabbinical Convention

The position to be taken by the Conservative rabbinate in this country–particularly by rabbis and congregations in the South–on the issue of desegregation of Negroes was outlined here today at the 58th annual national convention of the Rabbinical Assembly of America, central body of the Conservative rabbinate. Some 600 delegates are attending the parley.

In a report to the convention, Rabbi Harry Halpern, chairman of the Assembly’s commission on social action, said that Conservative Judaism is not concerned with the appropriate pace at which the desegregation process should be realized, but Jews “must not remain silent in the face of denial of equality to a segment of the American people and have a moral duty to speak out against the injustice meted out” to Negroes.

Insisting that this injunction applied for American Jews and their rabbis wherever they lived, the rabbinical leader added: “We recognize the dilemma in which our Jews in Southern communities find themselves and fully understand the uniqueness of their position in communities where they constitute a small minority.” He said that it could not be expected of Jews in Southern communities “that they should speak out alone when their economic security, social standing or, who knows, even their well-being may be placed in jeopardy.”

While agreeing that leaders of national organizations should consult with Jews in Southern communities “whenever we issue any pronouncements and take counsel with them before enunciating any resolutions, ” Rabbi Halpern insisted that Southern Jewry “should work jointly with others who, like them, abhor the injustice being done to those whose pigmentation alone is deemed sole justification for their treatment.”

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