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Reform Parley Urges Congregations to Help Minorities-end Poverty, Oppression

October 31, 1969
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Leaders of American Reform Judaism declared here last night that the American Jewish community must assume its share of the burden to lift minority groups out of poverty and oppression. The call for action was contained in a so-called “Jewish manifesto,” one of a series of resolutions on Jewish and general subjects adopted at the closing session of the 50th biennial convention of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the Reform movement’s congregational arm.

The resolution titled, “Racial Justice–a Jewish Reaffirmation,” urged that Reform congregations “redouble their efforts in support of those who have been exploited by our society. Synagogue programs supportive of oppressed peoples, the raising of funds for minority group use, pressure upon our Government for massive action, are vehicles that we must employ to heal the deep wounds inflicted.”

Other resolutions adopted called for a “stand-still” cease-fire in Vietnam, approved selective conscientious objection, urged people of all faiths to support Israel’s quest for security and supported efforts to establish and strengthen Reform Judaism in Israel. The UAHC went on record against a stand on voluntary chaplaincy service taken last June at the convention of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Reform movement’s rabbinical branch. The UAHC urged the CCAR to “do whatever is required to supply the necessary number of Reform Jewish chaplains to the U.S. armed services.”

A controversial plan to establish a Reform Jewish day school movement was defeated by the 2,000 delegates after five hours of heated debate. The resolution embodying the plan called for a “more intensive study of Judaism” and the establishment of Jewish all-day schools. At present Reform Judaism conducts classes in Jewish studies only several days a week. In contrast, there are more than 300 Orthodox all-day schools in the country and the Conservative branch of Judaism has been steadily developing its own network of all-day schools.

Opponents of the day-school plan, mainly lay leaders, argued that such schools would be concentrated in large cities and would pose a threat to the public school system. Proponents, mainly rabbis, maintained that a day school system was imperative to educate future Jewish leaders who would be qualified for leadership for cultural rather than monetary reasons.

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