Convention of Reform Rabbis Fails to Adopt Code on Religious Practice

The 70th annual convention of the Central Conference of American Rabbis concluded here today with the election of Rabbi Bernard Bamberger, of New York, as president. No action was taken by the convention on the major issue of establishing a code to guide Reform Jewish religious practice. Discussions at the convention developed no support for such an official guide.

The convention overwhelmingly defeated an executive board amendment to the CCAR constitution which would have prevented members of the organization of Reform rabbis from joining other national rabbinic organizations.

The delegates heard a report on Reform Judaism in Israel. Rabbi Jacob Shenkman, American director of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, reported that the American board of the World Union, with which the CCAR is affiliated, has accepted main responsibility for cooperation with Israel’s burgeoning Reform movement. He said that small Reform congregations function in Tel Aviv and Haifa and with interested individuals and groups elsewhere.

The formation of a Jewish society with Orthodox, Conservative and Reform representation for the specific purpose of propagating Judaism was disclosed at the CCAR convention. The new body, called the Jewish Information Society, is made up of prominent laymen and rabbis. Its headquarters is in Chicago, and its activities are confined to the Chicago area but it is expected that branches will be opened in other cities.

The preamble to the society’s constitution reads: “The purposes of the society are the propagation and dissemination by means of lectures, pamphlets, books and such other means as may be deemed suitable of the views of God, man and the world set forth in the basic tenets of Judaism and expanded and explained in the Hebrew Bible and in the Jewish tradition and to unite all the people of the world in a commitment to the one Universal God and the Brotherhood of man.”

Ben Maccabee, a Chicago engineer, is president. Co-chairmen are Conservative Rabbi Ralph Simon, Reform Rabbi Gunther Plaut and Orthodox Rabbi Aaron Ring. Rabbi Sholom Singer, Reform, a vice-president, said that the society would eventually place Judaism alongside Roman Catholicism and Protestantism as a third major missionary force. He said the society would operate on voluntary contributions.

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