Convention of Reform Rabbis Backs Negro Fight for Full Rights
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Convention of Reform Rabbis Backs Negro Fight for Full Rights

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The 74th annual convention of the Central Conference of American Rabbis now in session here, adopted a resolution last night pledging “unequivocal support” to the Negro community in its effort to achieve full equality.

Acting on a report submitted by Rabbi Samuel D. Soskin, chairman of the CCAR’s standing committee on justice and peace, the reform rabbis called for the passage of Congressional legislation insuring “the full exercise of the rights of citizenship” to all Americans regardless of race, creed or color.

The rabbis called for “an all-out effort” by the members of reform Judaism 659 congregations to impress Congress with the need for such legislation, warning at the same time that “a filibuster to prevent passage” of a civil rights bill would “pose a threat to our survival as a democracy.” The convention called specifically for the establishment of a system of federal “registrars” empowered to protect voting rights in national, state and local elections; asked the creation in all municipalities “of the post of public defender” to assure equal legal protection of individual citizens in the courts; urged the creation of a Federal Fair Employment Practices Committee “vested with complete authority to issue enforceable orders,” and recommended the filing of full desegregation plans by all school districts with enforcement power to reside in the office of the Attorney General.

In addition to calling for strong civil rights legislation by Congress, the rabbis urged the President to “exercise the full executive power of his office in affirming and implementing the rights of Negro citizens.” The rabbis asked the President “not to appoint men to federal judgeships if they have actively supported segregation.” The President was commended for supporting the admission of Negro students to the Universities of Mississippi and Alabama, and for his executive order ending racial discrimination “in public housing to be built from now on.”

With respect to Congressional legislation, the rabbis asked setting a sixth grade public school education as the literacy requirement, the establishment on a permanent basis of the Commission on Civil Rights, and an act securing “the rights of any and all persons to equal access to all public accommodations, institutions and organizations.”

The rabbis also denounced what they termed “the depressing pattern” of brutality by the police in dealing with civil rights demonstrators, asserting that “the American Bar Association has noted this as one of the most plaguing problems on the American scend today.” The convention authorized the CCAR’s creation of an administrative facility to coordinate the efforts of individual rabbis participating in civil rights demonstrations under recognized Negro leadership.


The 525 Reform rabbis went officially on record as in 100 percent accord with this week’s Supreme Court rulings voiding prayer and Bible reading in the public schools. The rabbis took their stand through unanimous adoption of a report submitted by the CCAR’s committee on church and state. The report was delivered by Rabbi Edward E. Klein of the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue of New York, committee chairman.

“We view the decision as a clear delineation of the separate functions of church and state, thoroughly in accord with American constitutional principles and the ideals of high religion,” the resolution declared. “The decision is in the best interests of religion and democratic ideals. We see in it a challenge to intensify our efforts to encourage our children to make worship an integral part of their lives, to secure for them a more effective religious education at home and in our houses of worship.”

The resolution said that “the separation of church and state in America “has enabled democracy to flourish free of ecclesiastical control and religion to flourish free of political influence.”

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