Conservative Rabbis Urged to Mobilize Against Moral Majority

Rabbi Seymour Cohen, the outgoing president of the Rabbinical Assembly, criticized organizations within the Conservative branch of Judaism for failing to deal with a broad range of social action issues. He also urged Conservative rabbis to mobilize in opposition to the Moral Majority and particularly, Sen. Jesse Helms (R. NC), who he charged was trying to undermine the authority of the Supreme Court on such issues as busing, abortion and public school prayer.

Cohen, of Anshe Emet Synagogue in Chicago, speaking at the 82nd annual convention of the Conservative rabbinical group, declared that the 1,200 Conservative rabbis it represents in the U.S. and abroad, must “arouse the conscience of our people and others to fight these groups who are threatening the power of the highest judicial authority in our nation.”

He noted in that connection that Helms and his colleagues and the Moral Majority among others were trying to “limit the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court by taking cases relating to these issues out of their hands and putting them in the state courts where more favorable decisions, from their point of view, would be attained.”

Failing that, Helms and these groups are seeking a Constitutional amendment. “They are prepared to follow a variety of tactics to achieve their goals even if they change the Constitution without amending it,” he said.

Cohen also took issue with affiliates in the Conservative movement who, he said “have been too quiet on the entire question of social action. The budgets we allocate for social action are extremely small,” he said. “We do so because too many of our Jews do not wish to get involved… We are zealous in dealing with such problems as Israel and Soviet Jews, but in the main we have been basically quiescent on other matters, ” he said.

GOODMAN ELECTED RABBINICAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT

Rabbi Arnold Goodman, of Adath Jeshurun Congregation, Minneapolis, was elected president of the Rabbinical Assembly, succeeding Cohen. A nationally known educator, author and authority on constitutional law, Goodman holds a law degree from DePaul University, in addition to his ordination in 1952 from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. In 1972, during a sabbatical year in Israel, he qualified as a member of the Israel Bar Association.

For the past 15 years, Goodman has been a lecturer on Jewish Studies at the College of St. Catherine for Women in St. Paul. His article defining various phases of constitutional law as applied to Jewish concerns regarding such themes as church and state, abortion or medical ethics have been published in journals and magazines all over the country. He writes a regular column for the Clarion, a Minneapolis weekly, and writes regularly for various local and national publications.

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