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May 04, 1979 - Image 14

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1979-05-04

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

14 Friday, May4,





23777 Greenfield, Suite 277
Southfield, Mich. 48075
1-313-559-9600 Mr. Elias

World Jewish Congress Has
New Information Department

NEW YORK — To meet

the growing demand for
publishable information
about the activities of the
World Jewish Congress, the
WJC has established a new

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international department of
The new department will
be headed by Max Malamet,
an executive of the WJC.
The World Jewish Con-
gress is presently engaged
in a world-wide campaign
for the abolition of any kind
of time limitation on the
bringing to justice of per-
sons charged with war
crimes and crimes against,
For the past 25 years
the New York office of the
World Jewish Congress
has cooperated with the
West German authorities
in locating witnesses will-
ing and able to give evi-
dence at trials.
Melamet, who will relin-
quish the positions he pre-
sently holds as executive di-
rector of the American Sec-
tion and director of the
North American branch,
had his own law firm when
he left South Africa 20
years ago to assume the
executive vice presidency of
the Zionist Organization of
In 1963 he became editor
of the Canadian Jewish
Chronicle Review, of which
he was a part owner. He left
Canada in January 1966 to
take up a position offered
him by the World Jewish
Congress as its representa-
tives at the United Nations.
In South Africa he was
prominent in Zionist and
Board of Deputies leader-

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ig !


Boris Smo/ar's

`Between You
. . . and Me'

Emeritus, JTA
(Copyright 1979, JTA, Inc.)

REFORM RABBINATE AT 90: The Reform rabbi-
nate is now entering the 90th year of its existence. The
event was marked at the 90th annual convention of the
Central Conference of American Rabbis with more than
500 Reform rabbis from all over the country attending.
Ninety years is a long period of time in tie life of an
organization. During that period, the Rgorm movement
has undergone quite a number of basic changes in its phi-
losophy. Originally based on the concept that Judaism is a
religion of universal values, not a nationality — declared so
in its Pittsburgh Platform of 1885 — the Reform movement
has gone a long way from anti-Zionism and from turning its
back to all aspects of Jewish secular and national culture
which it considered as being too parochial and separatist.
Today, the blunt statement "No return to Palestine is
expected, nor the reinstitution there of a Jewish state" —
adopted as one of the major principles laid down at the
Pittsburgh Conference — is obsolete. It was made obsolete
by the march of history. The years when Rabbi Stephen S.
Wise, Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver and a few other eminent
Reform rabbis were fighting in the ranks of the Reform
rabbinate against anti-Zionism and for Jewish nationalism
ended during the Hitler era; the Nazi terrorism against
Jews in Europe shocked all American Jews, without dis-
tinction, into a state of painful awareness of the common
destiny of the Jewish people.
Contrary to the anti-Zionist Pittsburgh Platform, the
Columbus Platform adopted at the conference of the Re-
form movement in 1937 urged all Jews to participate in the
rebuilding of Palestine. The Columbus Platform brought
other basic changes in the original philosophy of the Re-
form movement. It urged, rather than discouraged, a
greater emphasis on Hebrew and on traditional customs
and ceremonies.
movement, with the exception of the small group of the
nearly-defunct American Council for Judaism, fully sup-
ports the state of Israel. It has certain reservations with
regard to internal matters in Israel — like the power vested
there in the Orthodox rabbinate — however, recognizes
that Jews are bound to each other not only in religious faith
but as a people with common history and fate.
It still emphasizes the prophetic ideals of the Bible as
against the precepts and regulations of the Talmud, and is
openly against some Mosaic legislation; but on the other
hand, it has made big steps toward more tradition. Rather
than moving away from the traditional form of religious
rites and ceremonies, it has reactivated some of them.
Many Reform rabbis still stick to non-observance 'of
Kashrut in accordance with the opposition to Jewish diet-
ary laws expressed in the Pittsburgh Platform. On the
other hand, I have also seen Reform rabbis asking at public
dinners whether the food comes from a kosher caterer —
and even then, ordering fish instead of meat.
The Reform movement has also gone a long way in its
education system. Only a few years ago nobody could im-
agine that there would be Reform all-day schools. Such
schools were argued against by leaders of the Reform
movement as taking the children away from the stream of
American life. Today, this argument has lost its forte. The
Reform movement also publishes a very good magazine for
Jewish children, and excellent books for adults. Its volume
of selected poems by the Jewish national poet Chaim
Nachman Bialik, artfully produced — in Hebrew with
parallel excellent translation in English by Maurice
Samuel — is highly praiseworthy.
A PUZZLING QUESTION: One aspect in the Reform
movement has been puzzling me for years. It concerns the
appointment of rabbis — not laymen — to the highest lay
leadership position of president of the Union of American
Hebrew Congregations, the central laymen's body of the
It seems to me that one of the major functions of a rabbi
should be to stimulate and encourage lay members of con-
gregations to aspire to leadership positions. By having a
rabbi as the head of the central lay leadership body — and
especially by electing him to that position for lifetime — the
door is closed for lay leaders.
This system goes back to the time when Rabbi Maurice
N. Eisendrath was elected president of the UAHC under a
life term agreement. The process was continued with the
election of Rabbi Alexander M. Schindler, present head of
the UAHC. I had great respect for Rabbi Eisendrath and
have a feeling of admiration for Rabbi Schindler. However,
it seems strange that the place of top leadership in the
UAHC is occupied not by a lay leader but by one of the
rabbinical arms of the Reform movement. This system is all _
the more puzzling since development of leadership among
laymen is now very high on the agenda in organized Jewish
communal life.

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