Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Orthodox Rabbis Want Larger Community Role for Synagogues

June 26, 1981
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Two leading Orthodox rabbis, asserting that the synagogue was weakening as an institution in American Jewish life, declared here today that rabbis must assert their influence not only in the synagogue but also in the general Jewish community to help make the synagogue once again “the dominant force” for American Jewry.

Dr. Norman Lamm, president of Yeshiva University, and Rabbi Sol Roth, president of the Rabbinical Council of America, called on fellow rabbis to become more involved in more significant ways in those Jewish community institutions which have become strong forces in the Jewish community such as the Federations. They spoke at a session of the 45th annual convention of the Rabbinical Council, attended by some 500 member rabbis.

Dr. Lamm said that in “altogether too many cases, the synagogue has become essentially marginal to the community.” Dr. Lamm, a Rabbinical Council member, said the centrality of the synagogue in American Jewish life has been weakened and he called on pulpit members of the Rabbinical Council to strengthen their synagogues, to energize the potential “which is in the synagogue” so that the synagogue can have a dominant role in the issues facing American Jewry.

Rabbi Roth, who was re-elected president of the Rabbinical Council, said that the synagogue has in some cases been weakened by demographic changes, including the Jewish move to the suburbs.

He said to make an impact on such central Jewish agencies as the Federations, rabbis must become involved “in those institutions which are given direction to Jewish life.” He said the Rabbinical Council “also ought to do its utmost to bring more Orthodox lay leadership into the councils of those organizations that exercise the greatest influence in Jewish community affairs.”

Recommended from JTA