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Rabbis Condemn Christian Missionary Effort As Menace to Good-will

July 1, 1929
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Condemnation of Christian missionary effort which, it was pointed out, is menacing the good-will movement between Christians and Jews, was voiced at yesterday’s session of the fortieth annual convention of the Central Conference of American Rabbis at the Hotel Statler here.

Following an address by Rabbi Louis J. Kopald of Chicago on the good-will movement, Rabbi Solomon Foster of Newark, N. J. expressed doubt on the permanent value of the present form of good-will between the Central Conference of American Rabbis and the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America. He said that the Christian members of the Committee have definitely refused to recommend to their constituent churches the discontinuance of their missionary activities and stated that the reports of the Federal Council of Churches describe the wonderful possibilities involved in the relationship between Jews and Christians as an outpost of Christianity to modern Israel.

Dr. Joseph Silverman of New York attacked the Good-Will Committee of the Federal Council and called their activities “a subtle form of Christian propaganda.” He continued. “So long as Christians fail to admit that the Jews were right for the past eighteen hundred years and insist that they themselves were not wrong, then the good-will movement is doomed to failure and is an attempt on the part of Christian members to proselytize the Jews.”

Dr. Isaac Landman of New York, who was the organizer of the Permanent Commission on Better Understanding Between Christians and Jews, defended this movement and pleaded that “men should be human beings first and Jews and Christians afterwards.”

It is expected that heated discussion will develop at Sunday morning’s session on resolutions which may affect the future existence of the Good-Will Committee of Christians and Jews. Further discussion on missionary efforts in this country is expected on Sunday.

Lively discussion developed at Friday’s session on the worth and practicability of the Reform Sunday and religious schools. Rabbi James G. Heller of Cincinnati called the Sunday schools a complete failure and declared that the children are growing up ignorant of things Jewish. Rabbi Silverman blamed the failure of the Sunday schools on the rabbis’ inability to bring success to the present system of religious education, while Rabbi Barnett Brickner of Cleveland blamed the failure of the schools on the antiquated theology at present followed and urged that methods of instruction and teaching of Jewish history and religion be brought up to date. (Continued on Page 4)

The system of the present religious schools was defended by Dr. Emanuel Gamoran, director of education of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations. The discussion on the Reform religious schools developed as a result of a report by Rabbi Jacob R. Pollack, assistant director of Synagogue and School Extension of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations in New York City, who pointed out that whereas the average cost of Jewish education per child in non-Reform schools is $30 per year, Reform Jews are spending only $5 per child in their Sunday schools.

Rabbi Pollack told the convention that whereas other Jewish groups were spending $8,272,623 annually on the education of their children, the Reform Jews were spending only $507,310 or 5.8% of this amount. He reported the number of children in Reform schools to have grown from 9,599 in 1899 to 48,645 today.

Rabbi Solomon Fineberg of Mount Vernon, New York, deplored the fact that Reform religious schools have been made to appear as a place where one learns fairy tales and urged the rewriting of textbooks and present Biblical material now held to be a myth in such a way that their values would remain unimpaired.

Reporting for the Committee on Church and State, Rabbi Edwin N. Calisch of Richmond, Va., told of the efforts that are being made by Reform rabbis to prevent the passage of sectarian legislation and said that through the intervention of members of the Conference, Bible reading bills were defeated in Wisconsin, Michigan, West Virginia, Tennessee and Ohio.

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