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Reform Rabbis Will Study Means of Making Synagogue More Relevant to Us Jewry

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The rabbinic arm of Reform Judaism has launched a two-year study to determine ways to make the synagogue more relevant to American Jews and to “help build a creative American Jewry.” The project was announced at the closing session of the 80th annual convention of the Central Conference of American Rabbis by Rabbi David Polish, chairman of the CCAR’s rabbinic training committee. Rabbi Polish and other speakers at the convention expressed concern that an “archaic” synagogue is unable to meet the religious needs of Jews, especially youth, and does not aid them in resolving social problems.

The CCAR elected Rabbi Roland B. Gittelsohn of Temple Israel, Boston, as its president, succeeding Rabbi Levi Olan of Dallas. Rabbi Polish, of Evanston, III., was elected vice president. Rabbi Polish said Judaism was faced “with the same challenge confronting other faiths in the secular age.” He said it “is becoming irrelevant to many on an accelerating scale, and the verdict of irrelevance and alienation is being pronounced from within our own institutions.”

In a symposium, Rabbi Maurice B. Eisendrath, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the congregational arm of Reform Judaism, and Rabbi Jacob J. Weinstein, a past president of the CCAR, said the synagogue was suffering from “the intolerable toll of institutionalism,” the “Jewish allergy to formal worship” and “the self-hypnosis of the pulpit,” Another speaker, Dr. Nelson Glueck, president of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, the Reform rabbinical seminary, conceded that “our seminary does not in a real sense produce the completely trained rabbi” but added that it was constantly seeking to improve its curriculum.

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