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Rabbi Calls for Creative Diaspora

Pointing out that Jewry has “the need for a creative diaspora” and that American Jewry has “come of age during the past twenty years.” Rabbi Wolfe Kelman, executive vice-president of the Rabbinical Assembly, took an extremely optimistic picture of current synagogal life in the United States in an address before the national board of the Women’s League of the United Synagogue.

Expressing strong disagreement with the viewpoint held by some, that the synagogue is dying, Rabbi Kelman said: “American religious life has reached a point of consolidation; the period of synagogal growth is over. But this does not mean that the synagogue or Judaism in America is dead or dying. The apathy of American Jews towards their Judaism no longer exists; our Jews are no longer indifferent to their religious heritage. Instead, there is a hunger for Jewish understanding and education that, while different from that of the past, is nevertheless significant and valid today.”

The executive head of the 1,000-member organization of Conservative rabbis noted that now, for the first time, America is meeting its own rabbinic and synagogal needs and producing “our own quota of rabbis and synagogue functionaries.” This was not true 25 years ago, Rabbi Kelman said. “The fact that we are meeting our own rabbinical needs today is an indication that our community has matured; for no religious community can truly call itself a community until it produces its own rabbis and scholars, as we are doing currently in our American seminaries.”

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