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Plea to Ease Duties of Rabbis Voiced at Rabbinical Convention

July 10, 1962
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

An appeal to synagogue leaders, to relieve the rabbi from various business administration, fund-raising and public relations duties, so that he might devote more of his time and energy to spiritual matters, was made here today before the 26th annual convention of the Rabbinicak Council of America.

The appeal to the convention of the Orthodox rabbis was made by the organization’s past president, Rabbi Theodore L. Adams, of New York, “Lay synagogue and community leaders,” he asserted, “are reducing the power of the rabbi in the purely religious areas of Jewish life. The control of religious policies is constantly being transferred from the rabbis to the lay leaders.

“Synagogue leaders should relieve the rabbi of such functions as business administration, fund-raising and glorified public relations operations, so that he can be restored to a position of deep spiritual distinction, authority and persuasiveness. The hope for a truly creative resurgence cannot rest with narrow ‘organization men. ‘ It must be based on the consecrated commitment of individuals of high ethical and religious eminence, such as the rabbi.”

At a session last night, Rabbi Harold H. Smith, of Chicago, sharply criticized the recent “dialogue” held in Jerusalem between American Jewish and Israeli leaders, who had discussed the relationships between Israeli and American Jewries. He challenged one conclusion resulting from that “dialogue,” which, he said, held that “Israeli-American Jewish ties could be re-emphasized through the simple process of learning the Hebrew language.”

“For more than 3, 000 years,” Rabbi Smith maintained, “the Jewish people the world over had retained its identity and heritage, not because of language but because of the close spiritual ties of the Torah, which has guided the Jewish people in their day-to-day living. Religion, and its common ideals, have always been the unbreakable chain of Jewish unity and continuity. Unless the young Jews of Israel and America are imbued with the realization that our bond of unity rests in the spiritual obligations which we share, that bond will be jeopardized,”

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