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Reform Rabbis Urged to Define Relationships to Jewish State

A “declaration of principles” defining the relations between American Reform Judaism and the State of Israel was urged last night at the opening session of the 71st annual national convention of the Central Conference of American Rabbis here.

The proposal was offered by Rabbi Bernard J. Bamberger of New York, in his presidential address to the conference of Reform rabbis of the United States and Canada. Rabbi Bamberger noted that this had not before been attempted by Reform Judaism.

Admitting that this might be “beyond our powers, ” Rabbi Bamberger said that it was necessary that Reform Jews should, as a minimum, “try to frame a statement that would clarify our own position and offer our people some direction. ” He told the 700 rabbinical delegates that the convention should name a special committee with the task of defining “the relation of Reform Judaism to Jewish nationalism and the relation of American Jewry to the State of Israel.”

Such a commission, he said, should analyze such questions as whether Jews are members of a religious faith or a racial group primarily, whether Reform Judaism could have a significant role in a Jewish State in which Orthodox Judaism is for practical purposes the state religion and the relationship of Reform Judaism to Zionism.

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