NEW YORK (Jun. 2)
A New York area rabbi told a gathering of Jewish communal workers here that most American Jews have sacrificed their Jewish identity in order to succeed in American society and proposed a “psychic liberation” which he claimed demands “immersion in Jewish culture and heritage.” Rabbi Irving Greenberg of the Riverdale Jewish Center spoke before 1,000 delegates at the 71st annual meeting of the National Conference of Jewish Communal Services, the organization of professionals serving Jewish communal bodies and agencies. Earlier the conference elected Sanford Solender, executive vice president of the National Jewish Welfare Board, as president.
Rabbi Greenberg, an associate professor of history at Yeshiva University, charged that “Jews have succeeded in America as Americans but at every step have jettisoned or sacrificed their distinctive Jewishness to ensure accommodation.” He said this was true of the great majority of Jews, including social workers, whose “grounding…in the culture and values of Judaism is marginal and often inauthentic.” He said that in order to “recover full Jewish identity,” American Jewry must create “new centers of thought, culture, religious value development and Jewish studies.” Rabbi Greenberg said it was equally important to re-educate “Jewish communal leaders, social workers, rabbis and even laymen to serious grounding in Jewish values and experience.”
The conference was addressed by its retiring president, Mrs. Martha K. Selig, who declared that the Jewish community must, in most cases, eschew Government aid and maintain its own financial responsibilities.
She said this was not because the Government might refuse to finance certain Jewish community programs “but because government should not.” Mrs. Selig said this course “may mean. in effect, a self-imposed taxation. In that case it might be called ‘taxation for identification.’ a concept with which we Jews have been familiar from the beginnings of our history.” The Conference was also addressed by Gus Tyler, assistant president of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union, who urged a “redistribution of income and power” in America.