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Convention of Reform Rabbis Opens; Hears Plea Against Nuclear War

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The Central Conference of American Rabbis was urged here tonight to take the lead in marshaling the world religions for “the observance of a universal Yam Kippur” whose worldwide prayers would demonstrate humanity’s overwhelming determination “to avert the man-made evil decree” of nuclear war. Dr. Albert G. Minda, president of the Central Conference, made the proposal in a keynote address which opened the CCAR’s 73rd annual convention.

The Central Conference of American Rabbis is the rabbinical organization of the Reform branch of Judaism with a membership of over 800 spiritual leaders in the United States and Canada. Its convention here, the first in Minneapolis since 1911, will lay down guidelines for the coming year on a host of religious, social, economic, cultural, international and Jewish communal issues and problems.

“The threat of nuclear explosion hangs over all mankind,” the CCAR president stressed. “It is an evil corresponding to that set forth in the liturgy of the Day of Atonement, In our context, however, it is a decree not ordained by God but by the madness of men.” He pointed out that “the ancient Yom Kippur prayer raises the questions: “Who shall live and who shall die? Who shall die by fire?'”

Rabbi Minda called on the Central Conference of American Rabbis to “inspire all religious groups to join with us in the observance of a Universal Yom Kippur, a day of atonement and reconciliation, a day of prayer, penitence, and of seeking the path leading to the blessing that shall make for the life of all and the death of none.”

CULTURAL PROGRESS OF AMERICAN JEWS STRESSED BY C. C. A. R. PRESIDENT

Rabbi Minda recalled that “there were those who, not many years back, declaimed that American Judaism could not develop a momentum of its own; those who insisted that it was entirely dependent on the heritage bequeathed to us by the “shtetl” and the richly endowed centers of Jewish life in pre-war Europe. Sooner or later, they predicted, it would come to a dead end. These dire prophecies have not been fulfilled.”

Rabbi Minda told the convention that the Reform Judaism in America has produced “numerous Jewish scholars, indigenous to the American scene,” and is developing a literature that bears the stamp of Jewish and American creativity. “We have reared a generation of youth to whom their Judaism is not a hostile block in their life’s program but who have found it an inspiration and guidance,” he asserted.

The CCAR president also put before the convention the following recommendations for strengthening the synagogue, the Rabbinate, and the national and international bodies of Reform Judaism:

1. That the CCAR conduct a study of the “Changing role of the Rabbi and his program of labors.” In proposing this study, Rabbi Minda pointed out that a national survey conducted this year among clergymen showed that 63 percent of the ministers questioned said that administration takes too much of their time, while nearly half of the ministers said they did not get enough time for study and prayer. “No such survey has been made in the American Rabbinate,” Dr. Minda declared, adding that “if it were done, I am confident that it would result in similar findings so far as study, teaching, praying and other opportunities to build up resources of the mind and spirit are concerned.”

2. That the CCAR open its membership on an associate basis to outstanding Jewish laymen engaged in the humanities, sciences, law, medicine, industry and other disciplines, so that from. time, the Reform Rabbinate might co-opt the skills, capacities and experience of these laymen in the development of various CCAR projects and programs.

CATERING IN SYNAGOGUES SHARPLY CRITICIZED IN KEYNOTE ADDRESS

3. That the CCAR establish a Committee on Consultation that would afford rabbinical counseling to any rabbis who felt the need of it. Rabbi Minda pointed out that “just as the doctor himself may become a patient requiring the ministration of a colleague, so too with he rabbi. He who gives so much of himself to his congregants in various situations and circumstances, finds on occasion in his rabbinic and personal life the need of counsel and communication which can only be provided by a colleague.

4. That the CCAR draw up a guide setting forth acceptable practices to be followed in he synagogue. Rabbi Minda, in making this proposal, was sharply critical of catering on the synagogue, types of entertainment to be found there and the type of refreshments served on various occasions, the operation of Judaica shops, and other practices.

Rabbi Minda paid special tribute in his address to Rabbi Nelson Giueck of Cinpinnati, resident of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion on the 15th anniversary of his accession to the rabbinical seminary’s presidency. He also lauded Rabbi Sidney L. legner of New York, the CCAR’s executive vice-president, extolling his “valiant service on our behalf.”

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