Jewish Organizations Split on Adoption of New York State Charter

The New York Metropolitan Region of the United Synagogue of America recommended to its affiliated congregations today that the proposed New York State Constitution be defeated. Dr. Morris Fond, regional president of the conservative organization, noting that the Constitutional Convention had left no alternative when it chose to present to the voters a single “take it or leave it package,” pointed out that the decision was reached after study of the implications of elimination of the Blaine Amendment barring state financial support of church schools. He said that “the underlying issues in our stand are the preservation of the cherished principle of separation of church and state and the preservation of the public school system.”

The New York Federation of Reform Synagogues, a branch of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, adopted a resolution calling for defeat of the proposed new charter in the November elections and calling on Reform synagogues in the state to oppose it actively. Rabbi Daniel L. Davis, director of the federation, warned that the use of public funds for parochial schools “will catapult organized religion into the political arena, pitting one faith against another in a bitter, no-holds barred struggle for power, money and the minds of America’s children.”

Torah Umesorah, the National Society for Hebrew Day Schools, urged voters to ratify the proposed new charter. It termed repeal of the Blaine Amendment a major achievement and asserted that “we are now able to enfranchise nearly one million children in our state.” It said that New York “will now be in a position to finally grant quality secular education to all its children without any restrictive amendment and without the noose of religious discrimination.”

Dr. Joseph Kaminetsky, national director of the organization, said that “the entire Orthodox Jewish community” supported it in this stand.

Sen. Jacob K. Javits, who announced opposition to the new constitution because the method of presentation did not permit voters to accept or reject controversial parts of the charter, stressed that he supported the elimination of the Blaine Amendment. He said in a statement yesterday that he was convinced that “the manner in which the new constitution handles the Blaine Amendment issue is reasonable and sound and fully consistent with Federal actions of recent year.”

Press reports indicated today that the Catholic Church establishment in New York was making preparations for a massive campaign to secure ratification of the new charter and the elimination of the restrictive Blaine Amendment.

The New York Metropolitan Region of the United Synagogue of America published a five-page “Fact Sheet” on Article XI, Section 3 – the Blaine Amendment – and what would be the results of its elimination.

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