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CCAR Calls for Drive Against Racism, Stronger Position Against Intermarriages

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Members of the Central Conference of American Rabbis and their congregants were urged today to mount a vigorous drive to “attack racism in all its forms and in all places” and were told that the right place to start might be the synagogue which is “not yet free from racism” regarding hiring practices, purchasing and contracting. This plea was issued by Rabbi Lipman of Temple Sinai, Washington, D.C., in his report on racism to the 600 delegates attending the four-day annual convention of Reform rabbis in the western hemisphere. Rabbi Lipman, chairman of the CCAR’s Committee on Justice and Peace, declared that serious religious Jews must condemn racism whatever they find it and whether it is directed against black youngsters or white merchants. He urged the delegates to press Congress and State legislatures to provide increased urban and suburban housing opportunities for blacks and other minority groups and observed that while laws for their protection, freedom and equality are on the books, they are simply not being exercised. Rabbi Lipman called upon the CCAR members, collectively and individually, to use their influence to “Keep maximum pressure on Congress to get maximum funding for federally-financed and assisted housing programs; to work within congregations to sponsor such housing, both for new housing and for slum rehabilitation; and to chip away at the problem of unemployment and unequal employment with as many chisels operating as rapidly as possible.”

Rabbi Roland B. Gittelsohn, CCAR president, in an address to the convention called for a stronger position against spiritual leaders officiating at mixed marriages where the non-Jewish partner does not undergo conversion to Judaism. He urged that the CCAR position should be changed from its current position of “discouraging” its members to officiate at such ceremonies to “mixed marriages are contrary to the tradition of Jewish religion and calls upon its members not to officiate at such marriages.” A resolution, which will not deter such unions, but will seek to “preserve our self-respect as a rabbinic body here and in Israel,” will be presented Thursday by the CCAR’s president’s message committee, the last day of the four-day conclave. In his report, Rabbi Gittelsohn conceded that at least 100 of his colleagues do officiate at mixed marriage ceremonies, although most Reform rabbis often insist that Judaism be studied by both partners and frequently receive promises by the couple that their children will be raised in the Jewish tradition. He added that there are a few rabbis who will marry a couple without such promises and others who have performed ceremonies in churches. Rabbi Gittelsohn also urged President Nixon and Secretary of State William P. Rogers to ask the Soviet government to save Ruth Aleksandrovich from possible death in Potiama prison camp in central Moldavia. He further urged that world leaders and statesmen make similar pleas.

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