Social Justice Activity Urged on Synagogues
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Social Justice Activity Urged on Synagogues

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A more active participation in the problems of social justice on the part of synagogues and their congregations was urged yesterday by speakers at the concluding session of the first Regional Conference on Social Justice, at the Free Synagogue, 40 West Sixty-eighth street.

Several hundred delegates, representing more than 400 congregations and communal organizations of the northeastern section of the United States, attended the sessions, which were held under the auspices of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and the Central Conference of American Rabbis for the purpose of explaining the program adopted by the rabbis at their convention last June in Wernersville, Pa.


Speaking at the luncheon held between conferences yesterday, Rabbi Stephen S. Wise declared: “It is perfectly obvious to all of us that the synagogue, representing the religious life and the ethical aspirations of the Jewish people, must make itself felt in problems dealing with social justice.”


Dr. Wise commended President Roosevelt for his courage in presenting the country with his social securities program but he emphasized that even this program is inadequate.

Dr. Sidney E. Goldstein, chairman of the Social Justice Commission, spoke both Saturday night session and yesterday morning. “I’m not satisfied with merely preparing a social justice program but I want it to be translated into action,” he said.

At the first meeting Dr. Goldstein pointed out that the program adopted by the rabbis last June includes plans for the redistribution of the national income in accordance with the principles of justice and a possible nationalization of basic enterprises such as power plants, public utilities, communications, transportation and the banking system.


Frederick Guggenheimer of the Free Synagogue declared that “with the rapid changes in economic and social conditions we have come to see that if the House of God is to survive, ethical standards must come out of it.”

He stressed the point that synagogues must adopt a wider social justice program to hold the interest of the youth.

Guggenheimer advocated the appointment of committees, comprised of delegates of synagogues and communal organizations, which would make yearly reports to the conference. “The time has come for the synagogues to take a more aggressive attitude towards social problems,” he stated.

Another speaker, Max L. Schallek, told the delegates that “young men and women should be given greater responsibility in social justice work.”


Hugo Levy, of the Progressive Synagogue of Brooklyn, urged congregations to help put across the child labor amendments. He asked New York congregations to send petitions to the Legislature, requesting the passage of the child labor amendment.

The opening session, held at Temple Emanu-El, was presided over by Simon Sobeloff. Included among the speakers were Lewis Fox, of Congregation Beth Israel, Hartford, Conn., Dr. Goldstein and Judge Joseph G. Shapiro.

Judge Shapiro stated that “Jewish contributions to world life can only be made in a democracy where each individual has the same rights and the same opportunity, two basic features of Jewish tradition.

“Under Communism and Fascism, or any other form of government except a real democracy, those rights are taken from the individual,” he said.

Other speakers at the two-day parley included Mrs. Albert J. May, Central Synagogue, New York City; Joseph M. Levine, president of the Free Synagogue; Judge Samuel J. Harris, Temple Beth Zion, Buffalo, who presided over the Sunday afternoon session; Max L. Stolz, Temple Society of Concord, Syracuse; and Jacob S. Manheimer, Temple Rodeph Sholom.

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