Rabbis Demand Radical Change in Society, Denounce Dictators
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Rabbis Demand Radical Change in Society, Denounce Dictators

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Condemning “dictatorships of the right and of the left,” the Social Justice Committee of the Rabbinical Assembly Convention submitted what many regarded as a historical report here today, pledging the Assembly to work for a “progressive remaking of our society by democratic means.”

Individualism was flayed as “profit-inspired economy in direct conflict with the ideals of religion” in the report submitted by Rabbi. Milton Steinberg of the Park Avenue Synagogue, New York, chairman of the committee, and adopted by a majority vote after a morning of warm debate which evoked differences among the radical, liberal and conservative elements of the Assembly.

The radical sentiment was in evidence at a dinner meeting last night during which a tolerant viewpoint was suggested by several speakers for the theories of Communism, and during which Soviet Russia was lauded for “outlawing anti-Semitism.”


Liberal opinion prevailed when a resolution was adopted opposing dictatorships of any kind and reaffirming faith in democracy in the rebuilding of the social order.

Spectators were mildly astonished by the demand for the socialization of industry included in the report:

“We believe that man can remake his society by the process of education and peaceful reform,” the adopted statement declares.

The report supports the spirit of NRA “in so far as it represents a step through the channels of democracy toward a planned economy and toward the social control of industry,” but deprecates “those aspects of it which point toward the further entrenchment of capitalistic monopolies and the tendency which it exhibits at present of guaranteeing profits rather than ensuring a broader distribution of wealth.

An “individualistic, profit-inspired economy” is declared to be in “direct conflict” with the ideals of religion. “We maintain – that our present system, based as it is on acquisitiveness and selfish competition, is in practice a denial of human brotherhood,” the report states.


On the social use of wealth, the report calls for the socialization of instruments of banking and credit, the transportation and communication systems, and such public utilities as water, coal, oil, gas and electricity. “Although we regard all private ownership of natural resources and the machinery of large-scale production as involving injustice,” the report states, “we recognize the impracticability of an immediate transfer of all capital from private to public ownership. But there are some social enterprises that are so completely essential to all economic activity that society cannot content itself with efforts to regulate them. It must actually own them. We call for their socialization.”

The report upholds the right of labor to organize and strike and oppose the reorganization of company unions.

A resolution was passed during the day’s session – requesting the executive council of the Assembly to take “decisive” measures to organize a campaign of education and enlightenment among American Israel for the purpose of creating a single permanent and democratic organization to replace the present constituted American organizations, for the defense of Jewish rights.

Unanimous cooperation was offered in another resolution to Chief Rabbi A. I. HaCohen Kook, of Palestine, and his committee to the end that adequate legal protection be afforded in the Stavsky case.

The Assembly also voted the approval of the present campaign undertaken jointly by the Protestants, Jews, and Catholics to clean the motion pictures.

Continued support was pledged to the Jewish National Fund and thanks extended to the labor movement, led by the Histadruth for its work in the rebuilding of Palestine.

Approval of the work of the National Jewish Education Association at Denver was voiced in a resolution. It was recommended that the members of the Assembly give to this organization from the funds at their disposal.

Upon hearing of the death of Chaim Nachman Bialik, a resolution was carried unanimously expressing the regrets of the Assembly. The resolution seeking to endorse in principle birth control was referred by the convention to the incoming executive council.

The following officers of the assembly were re-elected: president of the Assembly, Dr. Elias Margolis, of Mount Vernon, N. Y.; vice-president, Rabbi Eugene Kohn, of Bayonne, N. J.; treasurer, Rabbi Louis Schwefel, of New Rochelle, N. Y.; corresponding secretary, Dr. Robert Gordis, of Rockaway Park, N. Y. and recording secretary, Rabbi Henry Fisher of Arverne, N. Y.

The new executive council consists of Rabbis Alexander Basel of the Bronx, Milton Steinberg, of New York City, Morris Silverman, of Hartford., D. A. Goldstein, of Omaha, Lewis Grossman of Corona, N. Y., Henry Halpern, of Brooklyn and C. David Matt, of Philadelphia.

The convention adopted an outline for the nation-wide observance next spring of the eight hundredth anniversary of Maimonides.

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