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Conservative Rabbis Told at Convention What a Rabbi Should Not Be

Some 500 Conservative rabbis from all parts of the United States and Canada met here today for the opening session of the 66th annual convention of the Rabbinical Assembly, the first time that the organization is holding its conclave outside the United States. The convention will continue through Thursday.

In his presidential address, Rabbi Max J. Routtenberg of Rockville Center, N. Y., urged the American rabbi to stress his function as “the teacher par excellence of his people” without attempting to become a “news commentator or a spellbinder” in his preaching, “a psychiatrist” in his counseling “nor a politician in this discharge of his social responsibilities.”

Asserting that the rabbi and the community must both pay a price for the many-sided competence required of today’s spiritual leaders. Rabbi Routtenberg said that the rabbi “cannot achieve the depth of learning, the mastery of the texts, the scholarship of the historic rabbi.” For this reason, he declared, “it becomes imperative that he be exposed to as much classical learning in his student years as possible.”

Rabbi Stuart E. Rosenberg, convention chairman, cited the parallel development between the Canadian and U.S. Jewish communities, noting that Canadian Jews faced similar problems to those of Jews in the United States. A highlight of the convention will be a special convocation of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America at which Canadian Prime Minister Lester Pearson will receive an honorary degree.

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