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N. Y. Rabbis Express ‘alarm’ over Federal Aid to Religious Schools

President Johnson was lauded here today by the New York Board of Rabbis, largest group of Orthodox, Conservative and Reform rabbis in New York, for his program toward the building of “The Great Society” in all aspects of human welfare and for his immigration proposed to Congress, calling for revision of the present immigration law based on national origins. The rabbis also endorsed, at their 84th annual meeting, the President’s call for an all-out struggle against poverty in America.

At the same time, the meeting adopted a resolution expressing “alarm” over the recent effort to obtain Federal aid for private and parochial schools. The resolution on Federal aid to education stated: “The religious school clearly is established to serve the sectarian purposes of the sponsoring religious group. It is a violation of our understanding of the hallowed principle of church-state separation to require the state to support religion. Further more, we consider it ultimately harmful to our religious institutions to depend on state funds for the furtherance of their program.”

The Board also reiterated its opposition to all public school prayers and Bible reading and to “any efforts to amend the Constitution so as to permit such practices and teachings in the public schools of our land.” The rabbis appealed to the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of Greater New York to undertake a broader program of Jewish education.

The Board criticized the divorce laws of New York State which specify adultery as the only ground, and urged the State Legislature “to review and amend the present laws in order to provide for additional grounds for divorce than is presently permitted.”

In a resolution on the plight of Soviet Jewry, the Board announced that it was “prepared and eager” to send a supply of matzoh for the Jews of the Soviet Union if that country’s leaders fail to make facilities available locally to satisfy the needs of the Jewish community in time for Passover. In another resolution on international affairs, the Board denounced “the proclaimed policy of the Bonn Government” to allow the West German statute of limitations to take effect on May 8, 1965 in the prosecution of Nazi war criminals.

Other resolutions condemned the Arab boycott of Israel, and called for the suspension of aid to Egypt in view of its anti-American policies. Rabbi Max Schenk, of Brooklyn, was re-elected president of the Board for the second consecutive year.

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