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Involvement of U.S. Jewish Lay Groups in Religious ‘dialogues’ Opposed

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The involvement of non-religious Jewish “human relations and defense agencies” in interreligious “dialogues” was questioned here today by Rabbi Seymour J. Cohen, president of the Synagogue Council of America, the national coordinating body of the rabbinic and congregational organizations of the Conservative, Orthodox and Reform movements in this country.

Rabbi Cohen spoke at the annual meeting of the Synagogue Council at which he was reelected president for another term. In his report to the meeting, he stated that “only the religious agencies can serve as the authentic spokesmen of the Jewish community in the area of Jewish-Christian relations. It is clear that faith must come before inter-faith and meaningful inter-religious understanding can flow only from the depth of religious commitment,” he added.

Acknowledging that there were differences of opinion among the Orthodox, Conservative and Reform constituents of the Synagogue Council with regard to the extent of such “dialogues.” Rabbi Cohen stressed that only joint consultations by these religious groups could bring about a “responsible clarification of the proper range of the Jewish community’s involvement in inter-religious activities.”

The Synagogue Council, at the meeting, voted to adopt Rabbi Cohen’s proposal to establish a National Commission on Religion and Peace whose aim will be to engage in joint studies and programs with Protestant and Catholic organizations concerned with the problem. At the same time, Rabbi Cohen announced the publication of a paperback book, “Judaism and World Peace” based on the proceedings of the conference of the same name held February 12 under the sponsorship of the Synagogue Council and focusing mainly on Vietnam.

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