Orthodoxy “strangles” Spiritual Life in Israel, Reform Leader Charges

“The future may reveal nothing religiously Jewish and the State of Israel unless a libera form of Judaism is permitted to express itself and flourish in the Holy Land as it has in America,” Dr. Maurice N. Eisendrath, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, declared here in an address marking the 85th anniversary of the UAHC by the Central Synagogue of New York, the oldest synagogue to continuous use in New York City.

Contending that “the people of Israel, and the youth especially, are yearning for a modern expression of Judaism which is meaningful because it E relevant to their daily lives.” Rabbi Eisendrath declared: “The State of Israel is the miraculous physical fulfillment of our ancient dream. But if the State itself becomes the religion of its people, if the spiritual life of Israel is strangled by the dead hand of an orthodoxy immobilized by rigor mortis, the day will come when there will be tragically little left of the Jewishness whose dynamism created the viable State of Israel.”

Among examples of the inflexibility of orthodoxy, Rabbi Eisendrath pointed out. one in particular arose as a result of the recent influx of Eastern European Jews into Israel. The child of a mixed marriage is not considered a Jew if his mother is a Christian. If he subsequently wishes to marry, he is denied that right in Israel; if he dies, he is denied burial.

NEXT STORY