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Philadelphia Rabbis, Jcrc Urge That Black Conference Spokesmen Be Allowed to Speak

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A guideline for rabbis on handling disruptions of their religious services by Black Economic Development Conference spokesmen, which urges that such spokesmen be given every opportunity to speak to congregants has been Issued by the Philadelphia Board of Rabbis and the Jewish Community Relations Council. The militant black organization has demanded that churches and synagogues contribute a half billion dollars in “reparations” for sufferings of Negroes in America.

The memorandum said the two agencies had “no reason to believe that any synagogue in Philadelphia may be subjected to such an interruption in the near future” but that “nevertheless, in response to requests for guidance, we want to provide you with the following thinking that may be helpful in determining the nature of your response to such an interruption.”

The memorandum said that if a black spokesman interrupted a service to present his demand, the rabbi could choose to allow him to make his statement at that point. The rabbi should explain to his congregants that since the spokesman had made the claim that his people had been suffering grave injustice, it was appropriate for him to speak in a House of God. Alternatively, the rabbi might choose to explain that interruptions were not permitted at that point in the service and inform him of the point in the service at which he would be permitted to speak.

A third alternative suggested in the guidelines would be for the rabbi to inform the spokesman he would be allowed to speak at the end of the service. If he insisted on speaking immediately, the rabbi should state that he, the rabbi, would not contribute to possible disturbance or violence in a synagogue and therefore would permit the spokesman to present his statement then and there.

Rabbi Elias Charry, president of the Board of Rabbis, and Theodore R. Mann, president of the JCRC, said that the guidelines had been prepared as a result of discussions within the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council, the Synagogue Council of America, the Board of Rabbis and the JCRC. They added that the Board of Rabbis and the JCRC were actively involved in talks with representatives of the Metropolitan Christian Council and the Archdiocese here “as to how we should respond to the substantive needs of the black community.”

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