Orthodox Rabbis Charge Pressure

A leading Orthodox rabbi criticized here tonight what he called attempts by Conservative and Reform groups to undertake a program to utilize the United Jewish Appeal, the United Israel appeal and Federation agencies throughout the United States to press Israel to grant their rabbis the right to officiate at marriages, divorce and conversion in Israel.

Rabbi Sol Roth, president of the Rabbinical Council of America, made the charge in his presidential address at the opening of the 45th annual convention of the Orthodox rabbinical group.

Addressing some 500 delegates, Rabbi Roth called on all religious groups in the Jewish community to reaffirm the indispensable unity of the Jewish people which, he said, “has always been predicated on the fundamental premise that in various forms, Orthodox, Conservative and Reform groups shall not adopt a partisan posture but rather shall work together to respond to the challenges to Jewish life that are universal in nature.”

Asserting there had been “some deterioration in this area of Jewish unity,” Rabbi Roth declared “this attempt by Conservative and Reform groups to achieve recognition in Israel by pressing in such forums is not consistent with the pattern that has prevailed in Jewish life in the past.”

ROTH CITES ‘UNWRITTEN RULE’

“It is an unwritten rule that religious groups within the Jewish community shall not advocate in non-denominational forums, whose purposes are essentially social in character, programs that serve their exclusive interest. The United Israel Appeal and various Federations around the country are devoted primarily to the disbursement of funds to individuals in need, to institutions that assist the deprived and to causes that serve the totality of the Jewish people,” added Rabbi Roth.

“All these guidelines of working together were established to assure that forums in which Orthodoxy, and Conservative and Reform appear do not become a battleground, but rather a matrix for the united and unified investment of effort in behalf of the Jewish people,” Rabbi Roth added.

“While the several denominations have theological differences, they stand on common ground with respect to the goal of Jewish survival. This objective has been isolated and severed from other issues — no linkage was allowed — in order that the Jewish community could work in harmony and unity to respond effectively to the most pressing problem of our time,” Rabbi Roth said. “I am hopeful that, traditional perceptions on the importance of unity will be restored in the American Jewish community and that we shall be able to continue to expend our efforts in behalf of the universal needs of the Jewish people.”

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