Orthodox Convention Takes No Stand on Federal Aid to Religious Schools

The 64th Biennial National Convention of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America today declined to take a definitive position on the question of federal aid to religious schools with the adoption of a resolution citing the “variety of views” which made it “difficult” to reach a consensus at the convention.

The resolution called for formation of a special committee which will report to the Union’s executive Committee. Officers and delegates who had differed on the issue compromised in the resolution and urged the convention to emphasize the areas of accord rather than those of dissent. The Union comprises 3, 100 Orthodox congregations in the United States and Canada.

The convention also adopted a resolution which advocated adoption of a moment of “silence” for devotion at the beginning of sessions every day in public schools. In this period of silence children would think in terms of their individual faiths and pray in silent devotion.

In urging adoption of the resolution pertaining to federal aid, Moses I. Feuerstein, who was re-elected president of the organization, said it was the “essence of honesty” to admit that there was considerable divergence of opinion. His support of the resolution was followed by an appeal from the convention chairman, Joseph Karasick for further discussion of the issue at local and regional levels during a “cooling off” period.

DEPLORES ATTACKS ON SUPREME COURT OVER PRAYER BAN IN SCHOOLS

The text of the resolution on prayer in public schools, as adopted, reads:

“The controversy that followed the recent U. S. Supreme Court decision which declared that group recitation in the public schools of the so-called Regents’ Prayer as contrary to the First Amendment manifests the deep commitment of American society to religious values. In the heat of this controversy, those expressing their agreement with this decision have sometimes been labeled enemies of religious faith and charged with the attempt to drive religion out of American life. We deplore the attacks on the integrity of the Supreme Court, the highest judicial body in our land.

“At the same time, our concern with the importance of the appreciation and understanding of the role of God in the world on the part of all children, particularly the hundreds of thousands of Jewish children and millions of non-Jewish children who have no such opportunity either in the religious school, the house of worship, or the home, leads us to state that we would deem it appropriate and consistent with the First Amendment to afford the pupils of public schools the opportunity to set out on their day’s task with a moment of devotion.

“We therefore see no objection if the school day were to start with a period of silence. In this period of silence, let every pupil think in terms of his faith and his parental religious heritage of the Almighty and thusly invoke his protection for himself, his family, his country and all mankind.”

CHARGES SOVIET UNION WITH DISCRIMINATING AGAINST JEWS

Another resolution called on the Soviet Union to implement their “often repeated” declarations on the rights and equality of Soviet citizens. It deplored the fact that Soviet Jews “have been singled out for harassment and strictures going far beyond those applied to other religions.”

The resolution charged that “synagogues are not permitted to form a central body and are isolated from each other. No contact with Jewish religious leaders or organizations in other countries is allowed,” the resolution declared. Last night Mr. Feuerstein appealed to the Soviet Union to permit Chief Rabbi Yehuda Levin of Moscow to visit Europe to meet with European Jewish religious leaders.

In other resolutions, the delegates hailed the United States decision to sell Hawk missiles to Israel and called on the President to “intensify the efforts of our Government to bring about the complete cessation of all nuclear arms tests and subsequent general disarmament.”

The delegates also scored practices of American humane societies which reflect anti-Semitic attitudes “while ostensibly lobbying for humane slaughter laws on the grounds of humane treatment of animals.” Other resolutions called upon Jewish federations and welfare funds to support local Hebrew days schools and Talmud Torahs “in a manner permitting these institutions to maintain their full and untrammeled spiritual independence.”

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