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Stein Demands Israel Give Full Recognition to Conservative Rabbis

November 16, 1971
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The president of the largest congregational body in American Judaism demanded today “full recognition” by Israel of the religious status of the Conservative movement. “While we recognize the sovereignty of the State of Israel,” declared Jacob Stein of Great Neck, N.Y., head of the United Synagogue of America, “Israel must recognize that in religious dimensions there is only one sovereignty–the sovereignty of Judaism–and this calls for the full recognition of the status of American Jews.”

Addressing 2,000 delegates to the United Synagogue’s biannual convention. Stein declared: “We cannot continue to tolerate non-recognition or to permit our rabbis to be humiliated and forbidden to act as spiritual leaders. We cannot accept the concept that we who are in the mainstream of historical Judaism should not enjoy complete and first-class membership in the religious community in Israel.”

Stein, who was reelected to a second two-year term as president, offered in his presidential address two proposals to alleviate the problems of small or out-of-the-way Jewish communities or those too poor to maintain a spiritual leader. He announced the establishment of a core of retired rabbis who, while unwilling to return to full-time pulpits, would aid congregations part-time and be paid by the Jewish communities involved or the United Synagogue or both; and he suggested that the Jewish Theological Seminary of America the fountainhead of Conservative Judaism. require its graduates to serve rabbi-less congregations for two years.

Rabbi Bernard Segal, executive vice-president of the United Synagogue, declared that while it was “one thing to oppose government aid to religious schools, this very opposition imposes on us the solemn obligation to provide the where-withall for maintaining our schools.” He urged the United Synagogue leadership to exercise their influence on local federations and welfare funds for maximum allocations for Jewish education. The Conservative movement maintains a chain of Solomon Schechter day schools and high schools throughout the US. The United Synagogue convention opened Sunday and will continue through Thursday.

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