Rabbinical Assembly Considers Whether to Remain Member of Conference of Presidents

An official of the Rabbinical Assembly, the international association of Conservative rabbis, disclosed today that the association was conferring with leaders of American Reform Judaism and with the Conservative congregational organization on the question of continued membership in the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

Rabbi Wolfe Kelman, executive vice-president of the Rabbinical Assembly, said the development stemmed from dissatisfaction over the fact that in the 15 years of existence of the Presidents’ Conference, it has never had a Conservative or Reform organizational president as chairman. He said that except for three B’nai B’rith presidents and a Reform rabbi who, was at the time, president of the American Jewish Congress, the chairmen have been Orthodox leaders. Dr. William A. Wexler, B’nai B’rith international president, was elected last week to a one-year term as chairman, succeeding Rabbi Herschel Schacter, president of the Orthodox Mizrachi-Hapoel Hamizrach , who served one-year terms.

Rabbi Kelman said that he and Rabbi Ralph Simon, Rabbinical Assembly president, were authorized at a meeting last Tuesday of the Assembly’s administrative committee, to confer on the matter with the presidents of the United Synagogue of America, the Conservative congregational body, and with the presidents of the (Reform) Union of American Hebrew Congregations and the (Reform) Central Conference of American Rabbis.

He stressed that the Rabbinical Assembly action was not to be considered “in any way” as a reflection on Mr. Wexler, for whom, he said, there was the highest regard. He added that he and Rabbi Simon were in contact with the other Conservative and Reform leaders to determine what action should be taken on the issue.

The conference was set up in 1955 as a coalition organization of the leaders of 23 national Jewish organizations for cooperative actions on matters affecting the security and well-being of Jews in Israel and elsewhere.

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