Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Central Conference of Rabbis Advocates Industrial Reforms

July 2, 1928
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

(Jewish Daily Bulletin)

A thorough study in the life and problems of the laboring class with the desire to better their home and working conditions was the feature of yesterday’s session of the Central Conference of American Rabbis at the Hotel Shoreland, when Rabbi Edward L. Israel of Baltimore, presented the report of the Social Justice Commission.

The Commission remains the only authoritative body expressing the point of view on matters of social justice of the Jewish people whose ethical philosophy is founded in this ideal, Rabbi Israel declared. This is due to the fact that the Social Justice Commission of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations was dissolved.

“We recognize the imperative need in the present circumstances for the enlargement of the functions of the conference’s commission.”

“It is incumbent upon all men to study the ills of the existing social order and to form an opinion on the problem of social reconstruction. Instead of questioning God’s goodness because of the evils in individual communal life, we should address God given intelligence to the extermination of those circumstances which allow slums, vice, feeble mindedness, poverty, degeneracy and the like to continue with only pallatiative efforts for their improvement,” he declared.

On the distribution and responsibilities of wealth, the report says: “Inequalities of wealth can find no moral justification in a society where poverty and want, due to exploitation, exist. We sympathize with measures designed to prevent private monopoly. We regard all ownership as a social trust implying the responsibility of administration for the good of all mankind. We maintain that unrestrained and unlimited exercise of the right of private ownership without regard for social results is morally untenable.

“The solution of ills which beset our social order,” the report says in its discussion of industrial democracy,” are to be found not in any class conscious struggle, but in the triumph of sound humanitarian principles which regard mankind as one. We also uphold a religious philosophy of life and cannot sanction the practice of regarding sanction the practice of regarding labor as a mass in which the personality of the individual is lost or is not considered. It is a tendency which leads to the treatment of labor merely as an instrument.

“The same rights of organization which rest with employers rest also with those whom they employ and workers have the same inalienable right to organize according to their own plan for their common good.”

The report deplores the policy of the State Department to support the claims of investors in foreign countries by force of arms and denounces the attitude of investors in foreign countries who refuse to abide by the laws of the country in which their investment is made.

The right to a living wage is emphasized in the report. “Society must guarantee each of its members the chance to labor and earn a living wage. The adoption by business. State and Nation of some form of unemployment insurance as well as some system of nationally interlocking employment agencies and vocational guidance agencies, which will intelligently direct labor and aid in averting crisis of unemployment is advocated.”

The report recorded its endorsement of pensions for old age and of mother’s pensions and of special protection for the worker from industrial disease and the rehabilitation of industrial cripples under the direction of the State.

The committee stands for the reduction of the hours of labor to the lowest possible point consistent with physical, mental and moral good with a maximum of eight hours per day, and a reduction of the working week to five instead of six days a week. Women in industry must be protected from the nerve racking and debilitating effects of industrial excesses.

“We urge unqualified adherence to civil liberties, especially with regard to the freedom of the press, speech and peaceful assemblage. We believe in the outlawry of war by all natios and support all movements which conscientiously and honestly strive to that end.”

Discussing the historic attitude of Judaism to labor, Rabbi Louis Wolsey of Philadelphia, said: “Jewish law represents the insistent genius of the Hebrew people to deal humanely and progressively with an unhappy fact. True to their religious nature, they attempted legislation to right the difficulties inherent in the very nature of the industrial problem. Conceiving of labor as a dignified and even divine callig the Talmud records many enactments that guarantee a just relationship between the free laborer and his employer, and it is evident that it was in the spirit of the Talmud to provide work for the unemployed. But it must be understood that the Talmud perceives no serious problem in the relationship between the employee and employer or lets humanitarianism run riot in the desire to favor the employee.”

The Baltimore Hebrew College and Teachers’ Training School held its sixth annual commencement exercises in the concert hall of the Peabody Conservatory of Music. Twentyseven students completed courses in the five departments of the school. The principal address was delivered by Dr. David E. Weglein, Superintendent of the Public Schools of Baltimore. Israel Silberstein presided and Dr. Israel Efros, dean of the school, presented the diplomas.

Israel I. Adler, Hebrew educator, underwent a serious operation in Mount Sinai Hospital, New York. Dr. A. A. Berg, the surgeon, pronounced the operation successful. Mr. Adler, who has been an instructor at the Hebrew Teachers College in Boston since 1923, plans to return to Palestine as soon as he has fully recovered.

I.Irving Lipsitch, Executive Director of the Federation Jewish Welfare Organization of Los Angeles, has been appointed Chairman of the Agency Co-operative Committee of the Community Chest.

The committee is expected to secure the cooperation of those interested in the social welfare programs of Los Angeles in connection with the next Community Chest campaign for $2,750,000.

The Hannah B. Solomon fellowship for professional training in social work at the Training School for Jewish Social Work. New York, established in honor of Mrs. Hannah B. Solomon, founder of the National Council of Jewish Women, has been awarded by the National Council of Jewish Women to Miss Hannah Myers of San Antonio. Texas, according to an announcement by Maurice J. Karpf, director of the school.

Recommended from JTA