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World Parley of Conservative Synagogues Discusses Western Culture

The worldwide Jewish community was urged today to confront Western culture, rather than avoid or evade it, by Rabbi Theodore Friedma-past president of the Rabbinical Assembly. He was the keynote speaker at the fifth international convention of the World Council of Synagogues which opened here today. The World Council embraces congregations of the Conservative movement in Judaism and has affiliates and associates in twenty-two countries around the world.

Rabbi Friedman said that all Jewish communities have the same problems arising out of their existence in the environment of Western culture whether in New York, Mexico City, London, or Tel Aviv. He rejected the attitude of some sections of Judaism which advocate a policy of isolation from Western culture for their adherents. Such elements in Judaism, he said, in Brooklyn, B’nai Brak, and in Buenos Aires, favored the erection of barriers between Judaism and the Western world.

The Conservative movement in Judaism, he said, has rejected this attitude because it was doomed to failure and, even more important, because it is the obligation of the Jewish community not to escape from the world but to persuade the world. “We have much to learn from Western culture and much to teach it, ” he stressed.

Taking note of the special problems besetting Jewish youth throughout the world, Rabbi Friedman counselled them to face up to Western culture. He advised Jewish youth to remember that in Judaism lies the answer to the human problem in the modern world.

President of the World Council, Charles Rosengarten, of Waterbury, Conn., in his report to the convention on his administration, emphasized that education was the primary need of Jewish communities throughout the world. He pledged that the World Council would continue to address itself to the task of providing educational facilities, including leadership training, so that all Jewish communities could better understand their Jewish heritage and preserve their Jewish identity.

The convention was opened by its chairman, Bert Godfrey, of Toronto, Canada, who welcomed the 300 delegates from countries around the world. The closing session will be held on Wednesday.

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