Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Orthodox Rabbis, in Convention, See Danger to Faith

May 22, 1929
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Communication to the Editor

A warning of the danger to the future of Judaism in the United States as interpreted and lived by Orthodox Jewry, was sounded at the twenty-sixth annual convention of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States and Canada which opened here Monday evening at the Carlton Hotel. Nearly 100 rabbis from forty cities were present at the opening session.

Both non-Orthodox wings, Reform and Conservative, were assailed in the presidential message of Rabbi Israel Rosenberg. The entire structure of Judaism is shaken, he said, Nonetheless, Orthodox Jewry should not despair, but rather renew its efforts to preserve its ancient faith, pure and undefiled. Orthodox Jews cannot derive any comfort from their knowledge that other movements in Judaism have likewise become weaker. Weak as they are, their influence is still dangerous to Orthodox Judaism, he said, in uttering highly critical words against Reform and Conservative congregations and their rabbis.

Reform Judaism he termed “the angel of death” for Judaism. Still harsher was his attitude toward Conservative Judaism. “With Reform Judaism we have no difficulty, knowing where it stands and what it aims at,” he said. He declared that Reform rabbis do not believe in the divine origin of the Torah and further charged that they frequently quote the New Testament in their sermons and confuse their congregants by “flirting with Christianity” and paying tribute to the founder of that religion. Conservative Judaism, he said, is the greater enemy of Orthodoxy since it is “going about masked, making a false pretense at being traditional Judaism.” Both seek to cripple Judaism, he averred.

“The Reformers have not only dropped the outer shell, but have devastated everything dear to us. However, in comparison with the Conservative group, they are intellectually honest and above-board. The Jewish center movement, sponsored by the Conserva- (Continued on Page 4)

The president of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis launched a bitter attack on some of the Conservative rabbis who, he asserted, are violating Jewish religious tradition by permitting mixed pews in the synagogue, by disregarding the laws concerning the purity of family life and the ritual bath, by taking upon themselves the authority to issue religious divorces in English, instead of the prescribed Hebrew “gett,” and by officiating at weddings contrary to the Jewish religious law, without the required presence of qualified witnesses.

He suggested the organization of a federation of Orthodox synagogues and rabbis and the formation of a young people’s league to be headed by the younger Orthodox rabbis. He put forward a proposal for the convening of a world conference of Orthodox rabbis to be held in Europe this summer to consider the part of Orthodox Jewry in the Jewish Agency, and pleaded for generous support on the part of American Jews for the maintenance of yeshivas in the United States and in Europe.


I read in your issue of today the charge of anti-Semitism by Murry Boxer in connection with the change of personnel in the Federal District Attorney’s Office and that Assemblyman Julius S. Berg of the Bronx is ready to champion the discussion and has wired President Hoover asking that an investigation be ordered in the matter. The facts in this case clearly show that William A. DeGroot, a non-Jew, was removed for the good of the service and as is usual in cases of this description, other members of his staff were eliminated.

Most of our clear-thinking people are tired of having quite a number of Jews charge their disappointments to anti-Semitism and of having politicians and the press capitalize and commercialize these discussions.


President, Brooklyn Jewish Federation. Brooklyn, May 17, 1929.

The item referred to in the above letter did not imply that the charge of anti-Semitism as the motive was substantiated. It merely reported the fact that the charge was made by those affected. All other facts given in connection therewith clearly pointed to the opinion so very correctly formulated by the writer of the letter. The task of a newspaper in reporting news, as we understand it, is to give the facts so that reader may be enabled to form a just appreciation of the facts. (Ed.)

The $1,000,000 mark has been passed in the New York Montetiore Hospital campaign to raise $1,200,000 to modernize the institution’s facilities for the treatment of chronic sickness. William Goldman, vice-president of the hospital and chairman of the building fund committee, announced. New contributions have brought the total to $1,017,730, $182,270 short of the goal.

Recommended from JTA