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May 08, 1964 - Image 7

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1964-05-08

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

School Prayer Battle Here and in D.C.

(From JTA and UPI Wire Services
to The Jewish News)

Action in the school prayer fight was taken on several
fronts this week. And in Lansing, a bill to allow Michigan
public school children two-hours-a-week excused absence from
school for religious instruction has been sent to Gov. Romney
for his signature.
Locally, American Jewish Congress women have launch-
ed a "Preserve Our Rights
Writing Campaign" to oppose "assault upon the dignity and in-
the proposed Becker Amend- tegrity of religion which could re-
ment, and the Michigan Fed- sult from the passage of any such
eration of Temple Sisterhoods amendment." Members pledged to
adopted a resolution opposing seek the aid of their congress-
the amendment at its recent men.
The House Judiciary Commit-
convention here.

'In - Washington, the House Judi-

eiary Committee's hearing's on the

tee's hearings, being conducted
under the chairmanship of Rep.
Emanuel Celler, New York Dem-
ocrat, originally were scheduled
to last two weeks. The hearings
are in their second week, but
there is a very long list of wit-
nesses to be heard.
Last weekend, opponents and
proponents of constitutional
amendments clashed repeatedly
before the committee. Rabbi Irwin
M. Blank, of -Tenafly, N.J., repre-
senting the Synagogue Council of
Ainerica, told the body that any
public school prayer of the type
advocated by those who favor an
amendment "would necessarily be
so devoid of• any real spiritual
content - that it would come dan-
gerously close to irreverence and
blasphemy."
He said that voluntary participa-
tion in classroom religious exer-
cises by children was 'an illusory
concept."
_ _(An alternate proposal to the
Becker Amendment that would
permit voluntary school prayers
Was suggested Wednesday by Rep. ,
Celler.)
The Rev. Fulton Sheen, auxiliary •
Catholic bishop of New York, told]
the Judiciary Committee that he
was 'not supporting any specific
amendment to the Constitution onl
the issue of permitting prayers and
Bible reading in the public schools.
But, he said,,he was interested in
obtaining "an" . amendment.

proposed constitutional amedments,
which would remove the Supreme
Court's ban against prayers and
Bible•reading in the public schools,
were seen as likely to be stretched
out into six weeks..
The Lansing bill would re-
quire parents of the students to
request the released time. The
student would not attend reli-
gious instruction in public school
guildings.
The State Senate approved a
compromise bill Tuesday by a 28-3
vote. The House passed the bill
Monday night 58-34.
0
Fearing the proposed Becker
Amendment permitting religious
practices in the public • schools
"would seriously challenge the in-
tegrity of the Bill of Rights and
weaken the valued principle of
separation of church and state,"
American Jewish Congress Women
have embarked an active cam-
paign to alert the community to
"the serious implications if the
Becker amendment, or a similar
amendment were to pass.
"We urge all citizens to write
their Congressmen now. to voice
opposition to the passage of 'the
Becker bill or any similar one that
can make inroads threatening our
religious freedoms," the appeal
read.
The Michigan Federation of
Temple Sisterhoods, at its recent I
convention in Temple_ Israel, voted . Bishop Sheen said at one point,
a resolution against - thethreatened; under questioning, that •-he was not

.

.

Feud with Chief Rabbi. Brodie Leads
London Jews to Form New Synagogue

LONDON_ (JTA) About half of
the 7000lmembers of the New West
End Synagogue decided at a meet-
ing here Sunday night to establish
a new: congregation with Dr. Louis
Jacobs as spiritual leader.
The synagogue's officers and
board of management were dis-
charged by the United Synagogue,
Britain's governing synagogue
body, in a dispute over the earlier
appointment of Dr. Jacobs as min-
ister of the congregation.
Chief Rabbi Israel Brodie, spirit-
ual head of the United Synagogue,
had declined to approve Dr. Jacobs'
appointment as minister of the
New West End Synagogue on the
grounds that his views are not in
line with Orthodox Judaism.
The United Synagogue Council
then deposed the congregation's
officers when the latter proceeded
to appoint Dr. Jacobs to the post
over the chief rabbi's objections.
Since the property of the New
West End Synagogue belong to the
United Synagogue, the new congre-
gation will have to find a new place
of worship which, according to
Sunday night's decision, will be
called the "New London Syna-
gogue."
Chief Rabbi Brodie publicly
stated for the first time — at
a specially assembled convocation

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
Friday, May 8, 1964
7

of 134 rabbis of the United Syna-
gogue and other synagOgues—his
stand in the debate over his re-
fusal to reappoint the controversial ,
rabbi to one of London's leading
synagogues.. The attending rabbis
included many from provincial
centers.
Rabbi Brodie told the rabbis
that Dr. Jacobs "has traveled far
from the accepted norms of Juda-
ism." Dr. Jacobs' writings and
utterances, he added, "make it
abundantly clear that his views
cannot be accepted as in accord-
ance with the position of Orthodox
Judaism.
"Dr. Jacobs went so far as to
say that in modern times, the Jew
no longer asks why did God tell
us to keep certain commandments
but did God tell us to keep certain
commandments," the chief rabbi
asserted.
Rabbi Brodie said he was "sad-
dened by the thought that a group
of individuals are contemplating a
new synagogue outside the frame-
work of the United Synagogue."
The chief rabbi added he hoped
that "under the impulsion of faith-
fulness to our sacred heritage and
loyalty to our communal solidarity,
no action will be taken that may
tend to create a schism in our old
and all-embracing religious com-
munity."

sure a constitutional amendment
was really needed. After the hear-
ing, he told reporters that it might
be adequate it Congress simply
passed a law permitting school
prayers. He also conceded a speci-
fic amendment introduced in the
House might be a violation of the
First Amendment.
Leo Pfeffer, American Jewish
Congress general counsel, told the
committee that many of the argu-
ments for an amendment were us-
ing "myths" and "fictions." One
such fiction, he said, was that such
religious practices have been go-
ing on for -150 years without objec-
tion.
Others. he said, were that there
is only one Bible and that all pray-
ers are addressed to the same God;
that if a child can he excused,
there can be no valid objection to
such practices; that only "atheists"
and "secularists" oppose the pro-
posed Constitutional amendment,
and that the Supreme Court had
forbidden the mention of God, the
Bible and religion in the public
schoolss. All of these, he declared,
"are untrue."
Dr. Edwin Tuller, general sec-
retary of the American Baptist
Convention, appeared as a rep-
resentative of his church and on
behalf of the National Council
of Churches, an organization of
31 denominations with 40 mil-
lion Members.
He declared that permitting pray-
ers in public schools would be a
clear case of tampering with the
First Amendment's guarantee of
religious freedom. He told the com-
mittee that public institutions "be-
long to all citizens, whatever their
faith or lack of it and neither the
church nor the state should use
the' public school to compel accept-
ance of any creed or conformity
to any specific religious practice."
He expressed strong doubts about
the value of prayers for religious
education, asserting that daily
school. prayers were "more rote
than religious" and that daily re-
quired Bible readings were "neith-
er true religion nor good educa-
tion."
Rep: Frank Becker, New York
Republican, testified in behalf of
his proposed amendment. He said
his goal was a return to "nonde-
nominational" prayers.
He„ was asked who would be
responsible, under his amendment,
for, deciding the type of prayer.
Rep. Becker said the matter of the
wording could be left to "local au-
thorities." He was questioned on
what he meant by "nondenomina-
tional" and was asked whether he
could accept the use of the word
"Alylah" as equally suitable with
the word "God."
He said he considered such ques-
tions irrelevant, but Rep. Jacob
Gilbert, New York Democrat, cited
his reply as dramatizing the con-
tent of nondenominational prayers.
In New York, religious leaders
throughout the United States were
called upon to support "a positive
program aimed at instilling deep
religious conviction in the minds
and hearts of American schoolchil-
dren which would render unneces-
sary the current attempts at secur-
ing a constitutional amendment
permitting prayers in the public
schools."
Moses I. Feuerstein, national

president of the Union of Ortho-
dox Jewish Congregations of
America, proposed that "a mo-
ment of silent devotion at the start
of each school day be instituted
in public schools throughout the
nation in accordance with the sin-
cere desire on the part of the vast
majority of Americans for some
form of religious orientation in
the schools."
He made the proposal at the an-
nual national dinner of the Union
of Orthodox Jewish Congregations
of America, the organization serv-
ing 3,100 synagogues throughout
the United States and Canada.

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