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March 15, 1974 - Image 3

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1974-03-15

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

CCAR Chief Asks Conservative, Orthodox
to Join With Reform on Conversion Issue

president of the Central Con-
ference of American Rabbis
(Reform), Rabbi Robert I.
Kahn, made a I public over-
ture Wednesday to the other
two branches of Judaism to
join with Reform Judaism
in seeking a common solution
to the problem of conver-
Addressing a news confer-
'e here marking the start
CCAR's 85th annual con-
vention, to be held .through
next Monday, Rabbi Kahn
said he would appoint a corn-
of rabbis to examine
i s
160Row nd allied - prob-
..ems u ,) seek meetings
with Orthodox and Coilserva-
tive rabbis to look for com-
mon ground.
"We want to heal wounds,
to annul divisions," Rabbi
Kahn said. He added: "If we
decide on a joint approach
with Orthodox and Conserva-

tive, we shall be guided by
the Halakha." He said the
committee he proposed to
set up would very probably
study possibilities of tripar-
tite Orthodox - Conservative-
Reform panels which would
perform conversions under a
pre-agreed unified proce-
dure, following a process
initiated in Toronto.
Rabbi Kahn said he and
his colleagues had asked to
meet Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi
Shlomo Goren but had re-
ceived no response yet. He
said the holding of the CCAR
convention in Jerusalem (the
second here since the Six-
Day War) demonstrates "our
love for Eretz Yisrael, our
affection for Am Yisrael and
our support for Medinat Yis-
He said Reform Jewry in
the U.S. was today a bastion
of Zionist support and sym-
pathy and was in the fore-

front of United Jewish Ap-
peal contributing and work.
The "return to Jerusalem"
by CCAR was to be seen as
part of a general reform
trend back toward Jewish
tradition, Rabbi Kahn said.
Greater emphasis was being
placed now on performance
of mitzvot as "opportunities
to enrich Jewish life."
Rabbi Kahn stressed that
even if a common solution
was attained on conversion
with the other two branches,
Reform Jewry would fight
for the full recognition as
Jews of those who had been
converted in the past by Re-
form rabbis without meet-
ing the halakhic require-
ments. It would be unthink-
able, he said, if years or
decades after their sincere
conversions, after having
lived as Jews and raised
families as Jews, such per-
sons were to.have•their Jew

Ohio Jewish Prison Community_ Dispersed

After Work Stoppage Backing In mate Union

. COLUMBUS, 0. (JTA) —
The 80 inmates who formed
a Jewish community with a
cellblock of their own in an
Ohio prison were scattered
through the prison after a
- work stoppage and the future
of the Jewish group is in
doubt, according to a rab-
binical student serving the'
inmates as a part-time rabbi.

Michael Zedek, studying
for the rabbinate to ' the
Hebrew Union College, the
Reform seminary, said the
Jewish community at the
Southern Ohio Correctional
facility at Lucasville had an
ark in the cellblock, Jewish
study courses, self-help pro-
grams and a spirit of soli-
darity, according to a report
in the Ohio Jewish Chronicle.
The report said that Don
Ferdinand, who was not
raised as a Jew, helped to
organize the Jewish com-
munity. Ferdinand, consid-
ered the community's leader,
was transferred back into
the general prison population
Dec. 27 after spending seven
months in "administrative
isolation" for his participa-
tion in the work stoppage.
The stoppage was held in
support of the Ohio Prisoners
SUNDAYS — 12 to 5
Labor Union.
Famous "TAM!"
Zedek said that when the
CALIFORNIA STYLED 80 inmates got their own cell-
block last • year, the inmates
protected each other from
violence and helped each
other prepare for appear.
ances before the par ole
board. He said the• cellblock
was kept "immaculately
with Much More
clean" and that there was
an inmate-produced news-
paper, posters of Jewish his-
torical figures on the cell
walls and Jewish stars on
• Plaids & Solids
• 5 Colors & White
Smart styling
Only a few of the 80 men
details, machine
were born Jewish but "they
washable. Sizes
8 to 18.
had found something very
attractive in the Jewish idea
that a man can change him-
self, that he is not burdened
with sin forever," Zedek
said. He said the prisoners
identified themselves with
the history of oppression
against Jews. The student
rabbi added that Ferdinand
was "one of the few prison-
ers who was making some
Now Only
effort to improve himself."
Zedek said that many of
the members of the Jewish
9 99
community were also in the
Single & double breast-
"labor union" but that he felt
ed,-long or short, new
spring colors. Sizes 8
that if the "union" improved
to 18.
conditions for inmates, then
"any person would have to
—Master Charge —BankAmericard
be for it." His view was
—American Express —Surwin's
shared by Rabbi David Fass,






who helped the Jewish Com-
munity when he visited the
prison as a rabbinical stu-
dent in January, 1973.


Berlin Choir Gives Israel Performances

ishness questioned by Israel.
Rabbi Kahn and Rabbi
Richard Hirsch, Jerusalem-
based director of the World
Union for Progressive Juda-
ism. strongly attacked Is-
rael's monopoly of Orthodox
Judaism and the National
Religious Party's attempt to
tighten that monopoly
through Who Is A Jew legis-
lation. "It is real irony,"
said Kahn, "that we who
have fought for religious
liberty for all Jews in the
U.S. must now fight for our
own rights as Jews in Israel.
We resent efforts by anyone
to make Orthodox Judaism
the sole religious authority in
Israel, and to have it in con-
trol of Who Is a Jew."

Rabbi Hirsch explained
that Reform Jewry's chief
complaint was that even
those of its rabbis who did
abide by the halakhic re-
quirements of circumcision
and ritual immersion for
conversions found that their
conversions were not accepted
in Israel. He noted with satis-
faction, however, that the
ministerial committee which
under the new coalition
agreement Premier Golda
Meir is to set up to examine
the Who Is a Jew issue, is
to consult with all streams
in Judaism. -

BERLIN—The 80-member the German Embassy in
Berlin concert choir is back Israel.
home after giving nine con-
certs in five cities in Israel.


Polish Jews' Asylum

In 1973, 328 Polish Jews ap-
plied to emigrate to Den-
mark or sought asylum there.
The government granted all
328 requests, Justice Minister
Natalia Lind said.


All the concerts organized
with the Israeli Chamber
Orchestra, were sold out in
advance, and the choir sang
before audiences of more
than 1,000.

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The concert tour had been
sponsored by the German
Federal Foreign Office and

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Rabbi Fass, now assistant
rabbi at Temple Israel in
Columbus, said development Classifieds Get Quick Results
of the Jewish community
helped to get the inmates out
of their "hopeless and des-
pairing" mood. He said they
were able to live in safety
in the cellblock, that there
were no fights and no knif-
ings "and the men were able
to protect some of the young_
er fellows from homosexual
assaults." He taught the in-
mates Jewish history, re-
ligion and Hebrew until he
gave up his part-time assign-
ment at the prison last April.

Rabbi Fass charged that
the prison authorities were
indifferent to the "positive
gains as far as men's activity
and behavior changes" he
said developed from the Jew-
ish community. Referring to
the break-up of the Jewish
group, Rabbi Fass said "the
hope is no longer there."
Rabbi Nathan Zelizer, for
23 years a chaplain at the
Ohio Penitentiary, worked
with some members of the
Jewish community at the
penitentiary b e f or e their
transfer to the Lucasville
prison. He said that there
was not a single ordained
Jewish chaplain for any of
the state's prisons, even
though about 180 inmates, or
about 2 per cent of Ohio
-"prison inmates, are Jewish.
Joseph Havener, who took
over as Lucasville prison
superintendent Oct. 1, said
"We do not permit groups to
segregate themselves accord-
ing to race or religion" be-
cause such arrangements set
up "all sorts of management

Friday, March 15, 1974-3

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