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Jewish Groups, in Brief to U.S. Supreme Court, Oppose Religious Classes in Public Schools

December 9, 1947
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Jewish rabbinic and lay congregational organization through the Synagogue Council of America, and Jewish community relations ag? through the National Community Relations Advisory Council, in an unprecedented ? have filed a single joint brief with the United States Supreme Court, in opposition to religious instruction classes in public schools.

The brief was submitted in support of an appeal by Vashti McCollum, of Cham## Illinois, from a decision of the Illinois State Supreme Court. It points out, ## that Mrs. McCollum’s atheism is opposed by the Jewish organizations, and ##ey dissociate themselves from her anti-religious statements.

Religious instruction of children always has been looked upon as a sacred ##ibility and trust among Jews, the brief declares. But the Jewish organizations are convinced, it continues, that religious freedom and freedom of belief and ## can remain inviolate only so long# there is no intrusion of secular authority ## religious matters or of religious authority in secular affairs.

The school practices which are under review in the Supreme Court case involve the ##ding of religious classes in regular school rooms during regular school hours, ## asses being taught by special teachers paid by an interfaith committee. In ## brief, the Synagogue Council of America and the National Community Relations ##ry Council maintain that these practices are unconstitutional because they ##tly or indirectly prefer one religion over another, and aid religion, in contra## of the First and Fourteenth Amendments; and because, by permitting religious ## uction in the public schools during regular school hours, attendance is not ## voluntary.

Filed by the Jewish organizations as friends of the court, the brief is signed ##nry Epstein, NCRAC chairman, as attorney for both the Synagogue Council and the ##. The draft of the brief was prepared by the Commission on Law and Social Action of the American Jewish Congress, under the direction of Leo Pfeffer, assistant director of the Commission. It was then considered at length and revised by a committee consisting of Henry Epstein; Ben Herzberg of the American Jewish Committee, chairman of the NCRAC Legislative Information Committee; Newman Levy of the American Jewish Committee; Sol Rabkin of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith; Shad ##er, Will Maslow and Leo Pfeffer of the American Jewish Congress; Samuel Rothstein ## the Synagogue Council of America; and Jules Cohen, NCRAC National Coordinator.

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