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Levy Named New Leader of Rabbis

July 2, 1935
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Dr. Felix A. Levy, of Temple Emanu-El, Chicago, became the first Zionist ever named to the presidency of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, when he was elected by a unanimous vote to the Reform rabbis who closed their forty-sixth annual conference at the Hotel Congress last night after six days of deliberations.

Other officers elected are: Rabbis Max C. Currick of Erie, Pa., vice-president; Samuel M. Gup of Columbus, O., corresponding secretary for the twenty-first consecutive time, and Harry S. Margolis of St. Paul, Minn., treasurer for his third term.

Morris Newfield of Birmingham, Ala., chairman of the nominating committee, reported that all the nominees were unanimously chosen by the sixteen members of his committee.


The new members elected to the executive board for two years are: Rabbis Joseph Rauch of Louisville, Ky.; Harry W. Ettelson of Memphis, Tenn.; Barnett R. Brickner of Cleveland, Jonah B. Wise of New York and William Fineshriber of Philadelphia.

Rabbi Samuel H. Goldenson of New York, who retired as president, was also nominated to the executive board, but he declined on the grounds that he felt there were not enough Zionists on the board and he wanted his place to be given to a Zionist.

Rabbi Levy, the new president, pleaded with Rabbi Goldenson to change his decision, but he was adamant. The conference thereupon voted to leave his place open and not name anybody else to the post.

The final session was devoted to a symposium on Maimonides. Dr. Zevi Diesendruck, professor of philosophy at the Hebrew Union College, discussed the philosophy of Maimonides. Rabbi Riving M. Levy of Brockton, Mass., discussed Maimonides as a codifier and Prof. Meyer Waxman of the Chicago Theological Seminary termed Maimonides a dogmatist.


The text of the anti-war resolution on which the conference refused to act and referred to its executive committee follows:

“During the last centuries of human history the relations of peoples and nations have been becoming more and more complex. Economic racial political history and cultural factors have combined to interweave the fabric of the world. In such a day, wars are usually the overt result of hopelessly confused covert causes. Alliance and counter alliance, the aims and provocations of secret diplomacy, the economic rivalry and imperialistic ambitions of nations, these and many other strands compose the skein. A close study of the last war reveals the fact that it originated in no single act, in the insensate and overweaving policy of no one nation, but as a result of European and world system.

“It is therefore our well-considered opinion that it has become impossible in our world to fix responsibility, or to hold any one people exclusively culpable. Wars are not really acts of aggression and defense, for we must recognize a difference between proximate and true causes. Aggression is only the explosion, setting off the match. but the system of selfish rivalry and of arrogant nationalism is the gun powder. Even invasion is no certain criterion of exclusive guilt, for it is true, little though we may see or realize it that the man who strikes first some times strikes in fear.

“These opinions would need elaboration and documentation, but appear to us capable of complete substantiation.

“As a result of all this we believe that the time has come to change the traditional attitude of our faith toward war. We realize to the full the seriousness of this change we propose, and we adopt it because of our relief that the spirit of Israel, the first faith and people to love peace and pursue it, necessitates such a vital change in the text and letter of our historic attitude. In the past Israel has made the distinction between righteous and unrighteous wars. In the light of the foregoing we believe that this distinction has no reality for our day. And we are now compelled to adopt as our belief and as the basis for action, of our religious followers and ourselves, the principle that war is an unmitigated evil and that we should abstain from all participation in it.

“Be it therefore, resolved that ### this conference declare that hence forth it stand opposed to all wa### and that it recommend to all Jews ### that for the sake of conscience ### and in the name of God, they refuse to participate in the bearin# of arms.”

The resolution was signed by t### following members of the committee on war and peace: Rabbi James G. Heller, Cincinnati; Barnett R. Brickner, Cleveland; Philip### Bernstein, Rochester, N. Y.; Victor Eppstein, Scranton, Pa. and Max C. Currick, Erie, Pa.

Rabbis David Philipson a### Julian Morgenstern, both of Cincinnati, did not sign the resolution.

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