Convention of Reform Jews Favors Proselytizing of ‘unchurched’

A resolution calling on the Reform movement in America to proselytize and “missionize converts to Judaism among the unsynagogued and unchurched” was adopted here today by the 48th biennial general assembly of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations. The proposal for launching such activities, seen as the first time in 1,700 years that Jews will seek openly to convert people to their faith, had been made this weekend by Rabbi Maurice N. Eisendrath, president of the UAHC.

Dr. Eisendrath had proposed to the 3,000 lay and rabbinic delegates here, representing 664 Reform temples as well as temple men’s clubs and sisterhoods, that a special committee be formed for the prosyletization drive. The proposal was adopted as part of the resolution on the subject.

In his address, Rabbi Eisendrath also called on the Reform movement to take “a forthright stand” to put an end to what he called “second-class status” accorded to the Reform and Conservative rabbis in Israel. Discussing domestic American affairs, he warned against a possible resurgence of “neo-McCarthyism” in the United States.

The convention heard a report announcing plans for the construction in Haifa, Israel, of a $2,500,000, “liberally-oriented” high school, named after the late Rabbi Leo Baeck. The school would be a major step, it was stated, “in advancing non-Orthdox Judaism in Israel, and dramatizing a new era of Reform Judaism’s desires to further the causes of the State of Israel.”

At several workshops and study forums, delegates to the parley discussed a re-evaluation of Reform Judaism’s theological beliefs and religious practices in the face of contemporary problems posed by the current scientific and technical developments. Other sessions were devoted to discussions of art, music, the dance and drama in Jewish religious life; and to an examination of the results of the recent Catholic Church action for improvement of relations with the Jews.

Other resolutions pending before the convention will concern themselves with condemnation of anti-Jewish persecutions in the Soviet Union, condemnation of Arab tactics in the Middle East, and a statement on Jewish family life, including divorce, birth control, abortion and homosexuality.

At one of the meetings of related groups, the National Association of Temple Administrators elected Henry Fruhauf, of New York, as president. He has served as comptroller of Congregation Temple Emanu-El, of New York, largest Jewish house of worship in the world.

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