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November 27, 1987 - Image 19

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-11-27

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

7„1N

is now at

2

Crissman Cadillac

vative representatives were
included. One rabbi criticized
Rabbi Atlas' contention that
the issue revolved solely
around conversion. He
reminded the forum that non-
Orthodox rabbis ans con-
gregations in Israel have no
religious rights, and said
there have been some suicides
within Israel's Ethiopian
community because orthodox
rabbis have questioned the
Jewish validity of Ethiopians
seeking to marry.
A second session, featuring
an Orthodox, Conservative
and a Reform rabbi, failed to
bring any more insight to the
problem. Rabbi Louis Berns-
tein, a past president of the
Rabbinical Council of
America (Orthodox), re-stated
the orthodox position while
claiming there has been
movement toward greater
understanding. And he also
insisted that Federations
should leave the Who is a
Jew? issue to the rabbis.
"Take it off your agenda," he
admonished. "I am hurt
when there are threats to
withhold funds if one issue or
another is not addressed."
Rabbi Alexander M.
Shapiro, past president of the
Rabbinical Assembly, called
Bernstein a saint for continu-
ing the Shapiro-Bernstein
dialogue of the last few years.
But, he reminded, "there are
many more Orthodox who
consider a meeting like this
as heresey." Many Orthodox
rabbis boycotted the RCA
meetings when Bernstein in-
vited Shapiro to speak and
"there are too few places
- where Orthodox are willing to
sit down with their Reform
and Conservative colleagues.
Shapiro threw down the
gauntlet, citing communities
where a Conservative mikveh
had to be constructed because
the Orthodox refused admis-
sion to Conservative women.
He also said a secret, all-
denomination bet din (rab-
binical court) in Denver ceas-
ed functioning when work
leaked out to Orthodox circles
on the East Coast.

Shapiro advocated a na-
tional bet din to work on the
issues of conversion and
divorce decrees. He also ask-
ed federations to keep up the
pressure, saying that laymen
can often influence their rab-
bis to work with Judaism's
other denominations.
The final speaker, Rabbi
Herbert M. Baumgard, a past
president of the Synagogue
Council of America, outlined
the Reform position. "I
believe there must be com-
monly accepted practices for
all Jews," he said, "but I can
not accept that only the Or-
thodox can decide which prac-

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