The formation of a national commission on Jewish survival headed by prominent scholars, educators and rabbis to combat assimilation and intermarriage was announced yesterday by Rabbi Bernard Rosenzweig, president of the Rabbinical Council of America. Rabbi Rosenzweig made this announcement in addressing the 43rd annual convention of the Orthodox group at the Pineview Hotel here.
“Intermarriage has reached catastrophic levels,” he said. “In many communities the rate exceed 50 percent. If this trend is not reversed, the whole fabric of Jewish communal structure will suffer irreparable damage. The problem of intermarriage among our college youth is particularly severe and constitutes a serious threat to Jewish communities and to the survival of traditional Judaism.”
The commission will be headed by Rabbi Gilbert Klapperman of Lawrence, N.Y. as chairman, and Rabbi Rafael Grossman of Memphis, Tennessee as co-chairman. “This commission,” Rosenzweig indicated, “will be broad based, and will welcome participation from other Jewish groups which are committed to Jewish survival as a primary goal.”
The commission seeks to stimulate action within and outside the synagogue. The commission also plans a counselling service for college students and adults, and a seminar and lecture series.
REFORM RABBIS CRITICIZED
Rosenzweig also criticized those Reform rabbis who solemnize intermarriages. “We must not become tolerant of this cancerous growth which can only destroy Jewish ranks,” he declared.
Rosenzweig also decried the recently announced campaign of Reform Judaism to actively seek converts from unaffiliated Christians. “This is an irresponsible and shocking endeavor which can only evoke the enmity of the Christian world toward Jews, “he said.”It took several decades of interfaith contact to convince both Catholic and Protestant ranks to suspend their missionary efforts among Jews. We persuaded them that such acts offend us, deeply. Now for Reform Judaism to initiate a missionizing campaign among Christians is the height of indiscretion and is calculated to cause much harm. No one group in Jewish life has a right to take steps which can adversely affect the entire American Jewish community.”
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.