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December 08, 1989 - Image 149

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-12-08

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

NEWS I

Babies
Don't Thrive
in
Smoke-filled
Wombs

Reform Judaism Claim
Is Disputed By Others

New Orleans (JTA) — A
report supporting Reform
Judaism's claim that it has
become the largest Jewish
denomination in the United
States was presented to the
more than 4,000 delegates at
the movement's recent con-
vention here, but was
disputed by Conservative
and Orthodox Jews.
Allan Goldman of Los
Angeles, chairman of the
board of trustees of the
Union of American Hebrew
Congregations, reported
that by the latest count, the
movement has a member-
ship of 284,360 dues-paying
families and 822 affiliated
synagogues — both record
numbers.
The figures represent an
increase of nearly 10 percent
in the number of Reform
synagogues in the last
decade and a more than 20
percent increase in member-
ship over that time period,
Goldman's report says.
The new numbers appear
to make Reform the largest
branch of Judaism in North
America, according to
Goldman.
But officials of the Conser-
vative and Orthodox move-
ment in New York are not so
sure.
Lois Goldrich,
spokeswoman for the United
Synagogue of America, said
that the Conservative
movement counts its
membership at approx-
imately 2 million, and the
number of affiliated
synagogues fluctuates bet-
ween 820 and 850.
Rabbi Jerome Epstein,
senior vice president of the
United Synagogue, caution-
ed that Reform temples,
unlike Conservative or Or-
thodox synagogues, allow
non-Jewish spouses of
members to join, and that
could effect their count.
William Rapfogel, director
of the Institute for Public Af-
fairs of the Union of Or-
thodox Jewish Congrega-
tions of America, said that
"to compare Reform and Or-
thodox is like comparing
apples and oranges."
He pointed out that while
all Reform temples affiliate
with the UAHC, there is no
single official address for Or-
thodox Judaism for which
their numbers can be com-
piled.
The New Orleans dele-
gates also received a sum-
mary of a study of synagogue
affiliation, published by the
Cohen Center for Modern

Jewish Studies at Brandeis
University and the UAHC's
Committee on the Jewish
Family.
The study, which examin-
ed synagogue affiliation in
seven middle-sized Jewish
communities, found that
Jews who identify as Reform
are the majority in five of
those regions.
But the study also found
that while more Jews iden-
tify with Reform than any
other branch of Judaism, the
movement itself has the
lowest rate of synagogue af-
filiation.
Orthodox Jews, the
smallest group in terms of
numbers, have the greatest
proportion of synagogue af-
filiation, followed by those
who identify as Conser-
vative.
Goldman said the large
number of unaffiliated Jews
is "a matter of grave con-
cern."
He attributed the numbers
in part to the many young
men and women who are
postponing marriage and
children, and thereby their
entry into Jewish communal
life.
"What this means,"
Goldman said, "is that our
membership efforts must es-
pecially target young single
people. We cannot wait for
them to come to us. We must
reach out to them and bring
them into the synagogue."

Begin Thinner,
But Is Alert

Jerusalem (JTA) — Former
Prime Minister Menachem
Begin made one of his rare
appearances in public late
last month. It was his annual
outing to say Kaddish at the
grave of his wife, Aliza, whose
death seven years ago is
believed to have prompted
him to leave public office.
Wearing a blue suit and a
blue hat, Begin, 76, arrived at
the graveside, supported by
his daughters, Hasia and
Leah. He and his son,
Binyamin, recited the
memorial prayer.
The once fiery leader of the
Likud bloc, who made peace
with Egypt and shared the
Nobel Peace Prize with the
late Egyptian President An-
war Sadat, seemed a shadow
of his former self.
He looked thinner than
ever and physically weak.
There was a frozen smile on
his face as his family escorted
him through crowds.

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS 149

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