Central Conference of American Rabbis Hears Rabbi Foster Cite Indications of Demoralization Among Am
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Central Conference of American Rabbis Hears Rabbi Foster Cite Indications of Demoralization Among Am

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The interpretation of charity and service in a Jewish or non-Jewish philanthropic institution as the all-sufficient manifestation of Jewish loyalty, congregations languishing for lack of support, moral and financial, while Jewish clubs and charities are supplied with more generous support and the domination of some Jewish communities in whole or in part by leaders whose only association with the Jewish group is affiliation with a Jewish club or recognition as the Jewish representative by non-Jewish bodies were pointed out as some of the signs of wide-spread demoralization among American Jews by Rabbi Solomon Foster of Temple B’nai Jeshurun, Newark, in the Conference lecture tonight at the 44th annual convention of the Central Conference of American Rabbis.

Other indications of this break-down cited by Rabbi Foster were the fact that “some of our Talmud Torahs, several of our seminaries, many of our Jewish educational institutions are frequently hard pressed, if not forced into bankruptcy, while our people individually enjoy great luxury and support in general in all kinds of cultural movements. The Jewish lecture platforms, both before our brotherhoods, sisterhoods, temple centers, Y.M.H.A.’s, lodges and societies are not infrequently the sounding boards of such anti-Jewish doctrine, such anti-social theories, such anti-moral influences as to make loyal and discriminating Jews sick at heart.”


Rabbi Foster charged that some Jewish millionaires in America whose benefactions to art, science and medicine run into the millions “actually refuse to aid a Jewish religious or educational movement and repudiate the synagogue as a spiritual home.” He also said that the messages from Jewish pulpits “are adulterated in their Jewish spirit and denuded of Jewish thought and hope so as to be indistinguishable from an address by a liberal Christian theologian.”

The Conference lecturer concluded by saying that “they who prefer Jesus to Moses, who use Jewish institutions and agencies, locally and nationally, as a means of self-glory and exploitation, who practice an absentee rabbinate in search of fame and fortune, who make social service, political reform, industrial progress and educational advance, important though they be, subservient to an intimate, intensive and enlightened spiritual ministration both to sick, bewildered, and unhappy, and to confident, hopeful and enlightened Jews, are planting the seeds of disloyalty and disintegration in the souls of unwary modern Jewry and preparing for wholesale losses in our ranks. Our survival is eternally conditioned by a vision of holiness and a program of righteousness.”


The delegates yesterday heard Rabbi Louis Wolsey speak on synagogue music. He favored the major keys as more representative of a happy American life. Abraham Binder, professor of music at the Jewish Institute of Religion, who worked two years on the new hymnal, said that the new book sets a new style in hymnology. He deplored the slow progress of synagogue music and urged framing the musical tradition of the Jews in a tasteful and refined setting.

The important symposium in the Union Prayer Book also took place last night. Rabbi Solomon Freehof criticized the inflexibility of the present book and advised the creative spirit in modern prayer and recommended that a Union Prayer anthology be issued entirely new every five years, in addition to the present book. Rabbi Beetan declared that the present book should contain instruction of a general character and that the revision should strengthen the Jewish qualities of prayer, not dilute them.


Rabbi Cohon pointed to the necessity of ideas in prayer and advised the reformation of ideas to stress the concept of God as real and a spiritual force. Rabbi Jonah Wise urged uniformity in prayer as a cementing factor. He said that the object of the revision was devotional, not theological and advised linguistic changes by using psalms and poems.

The alumni of the Jewish Institute of Religion tendered a dinner here last night to Rabbi Stephen S. Wise. In his address, Rabbi Wise said that the most pressing modern Jewish problem was the relation of the Palestine builders with Great Britain. Saying that the Mandatory power has failed in fulfilling the Balfour Declaration, Rabbi Wise saw an excuse in the incapacity and ill-will of underlings. He expressed the hope that the Jewish Agency and the League of Nations will force fulfillment of the Declaration in letter and spirit.

Rabbi Kaplan announced a gift of $35,000 in insurance to the Institute.

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