N.c.r.a.c. Convention Opposes Change in Ban on Prayers in Schools

The annual convention of the National Community Relations Advisory Council concluded here today with the adoption of a resolution opposing any Congressional action reversing the Supreme Court ban on prayers and Bible-reading in the public schools. Aaron Goldman of Washington was elected new NCRAC chairman, succeeding Louis Weinstein of Boston.

The convention of the NCRAC, which represents six national Jewish organizations and more than 70 local Jewish community councils in major cities, also urged the United States to ratify the Genocide Convention, which outlaws mass-annihilation of peoples as carried out by the Nazis. The delegates also recommended the adoption of a new U.S. immigration law eliminating the national origin quota system.

Other resolutions urged the U.S. Government to use its influence to bring the Arab states and Israel to the “peace table” and appealed to the American people and leaders to exert influence on the Soviet Government to alleviate cultural and religious discrimination against Soviet Jews.

During the weekend, the delegates discussed the question of whether Jews in this country were facing a loss of their cultural and religious identity. Isaiah B. Minkoff, executive vice-chairman of the NCRAC, discounted statistics on Jewish intermarriage as “lifeless numbers that fail to take into account the dynamic life processes of groups. He said that “Although the relative openness of the American society affords perhaps unparalleled inducement to assimilation, on the other hand, pluralistic America encourages group identification.”

Sanford Solender, executive vice-president of the National Jewish Welfare Board, presented a different view. He said that “all is far from well with American Jews,” pointing out that “masses of American Jews do not have even the most elementary understanding of their heritage.” Dr. Lou H. Silberman, professor of Jewish Literature and Thought at Vanderbilt University, questioned Mr. Minkoff’s concept of cultural pluralism as permitting Jews to retain their identity. He said that the pluralism he had observed was highly individualistic rather than community-oriented.

Earlier at the convention, Conservative Rabbi Max Routtenberg of New York and Orthodox Rabbi Shubert Spero of Cleveland agreed that a possible failure by the Ecumenical Council to adopt the Schema on the Jews would not cause a lessening of the desire for dialogue and cooperation between Jew and Catholic.

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