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U. A. H. C. Convention Hears Plea for Expansion of Reform Movement

February 14, 1955
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A call for the Reform movement to expand its horizons and activities in the United States and in Israel was voiced here today by Rabbi Maurice N. Eisendrath, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, in his presidential report to the 43rd general assembly of the UAHC. The convention, which opened here last night and will close Wednesday, is being attended by some 1,500 delegates from 500 Reform congregations in the United States, Canada and several neighboring countries.

Dr. Eisendrath recommended specifically that new areas of expansion be marked out in the United States–in the suburbs and rural areas–and in the State of Israel where, he said, there was hope that the Reform movement would shortly establish itself, He urged the assembly to pledge itself, in conjunction with the World Union for Progressive Judaism, to “do its utmost to assure the success of this venture” in Israel.

In his 20,000-word “State of the Union” message, Dr. Eisendrath urged action on Jewish religious life in the rural areas, asserting that many “isolated Jewish families, hungry and athirst for Jewish knowledge and Jewish guidance, have, in too many instances, no alternatives but to send their children to Christian religious schools and watch them drift into complete assimilation.”

The head of the Reform movement also called for greater concentration on adult education, on youth camps and on the establishment of regional offices of the UAHC. At the same time, he insisted that the synagogue must take a more active role in civic and communal affairs and in pressing for social action.

Dr. Samuel S. Hollender, chairman of the executive board of the UAHC and general chairman of the Combined Campaign for the Advancement of Reform Judaism, fund-raising arm of the Reform movement, reported a decade of consistent progress with the UAHG growing from 300 to 499 congregations in that period. The combined membership of the Reform congregations, he declared, is almost 1,000,000 men, women and children. Dr. Hollender declared that Reform Judaism was “particularly complementary to our American democratic society.”

Isidor Coons, executive vice-chairman of the Combined Campaign, reported last night that more than $1,050,000 had been raised to date in the current drive for support of the Union and the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. The minimum needs of the two institutions, he declared, is $2,340,000.

In a message to the general assembly, President Eisenhower saluted the Union and declared that its growth was a “striking demonstration of a great strengthening within your faith.” The message also stated: “Whenever such evidence exists of a genuine growth in religious interest, it should enhearten every American. For the more vigorous our religious institutions, the greater the possibility that the voice of morality will be heard in widening areas of public life and in the consideration of national and international problems.”

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