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Conference of Orthodox Rabbis Under Attack from Extremists, Moderates

January 10, 1972
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Some 1.500 Orthodox rabbis and lay leaders from all over the world are attending the World Conference of Synagogues and Community Organizations which opened here tonight. Premier Golda Meir and other government officials were on hand to greet them. But the gathering was promptly attacked by ultra-Orthodox elements at one end of the spectrum and religious moderates at the other.

One of the main topics to be discussed at the week-long meeting is the organization of a central world body for religious services that could supply ritual slaughterers and religious paraphernalia to out-of-the-way Jewish communities.

The ultra-Orthodox, ranging from the Naturei Karta through the Agudat Israel and Poale Agudat Israel, denounced the 500 participates from abroad and 1,000 Israeli rabbis and laymen as “coalitionists” who are willing to compromise the tenets of Judaism so that they can remain in office. From the more liberal Orthodox members of Mapai and Rabbi Menachem Hacohen, head of Histadrut’s religious department, came a warning that anyone attending the conference should do so with the full knowledge that it is a meeting of National Religious Party rabbis.

The NRP is a coalition partner in the government and is generally regarded as occupying a middle ground between religious extremists and liberal elements. The NRP has been at serious odds with Orthodox militants in recent months on such Issues as autopsies and the conscription of religious girls for national service.

No organized world body is expected to emerge from the conference due mainly to the traditional opposition of American Jews to any organization that purports to speak for the Jewish community as a whole.

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