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Proceedings at the Meeting of the Beth-Din in New York

On the 2d Iyar (April 18), 5607.

PRESENT: Chief Rabbi Dr. Lilienthal; Rabbi Dr. Wise, of Albany; Morenu H. Felsenheld.

  1. The President opened the meeting with a short discourse, in which he pointed at the free and hopeful development of Judaism in the United States; stated the objects for deliberation, and closed with the expression of the conviction, that the Beth-din, if it would only work without any hierarchal assumption, and only act as an advisory council, must be of great and beneficial service to the young and rising congregations of North America.
  2. Rabbi Wise then proposed a Minhag-America for divine service. He had been charged with such a work, because experience teaches that in most places different congregations are set up, and the strength of the Israelites is divided, because every emigrant brings his own Minhag from his home, and the German will not give way to the Polish, nor he to the English, nor the latter to the Portuguese Jew. Such a cause for dissension would be obviated by a Minhag-America, which would promote the harmonious development of the young congregations. The project of the Minhag as introduced by Dr. Wise, treats of the Tephillah according to the Din, upon scientific principles and the demands of the times, and shows plainly, that the new Minhag must be based on those three pillars, to be entirely satisfactory. The part was read to the meeting, and a resolution was passed, to lay the whole question over till next meeting, in order to give the members time for deliberation, and not to give their opinions till then, the question being one of paramount magnitude.
  3. Dr. Lilienthal then laid before the meeting an English Reader, for the medium classes of the Hebrew Schools. It contains narratives based on the chief points of the Jewish doctrines, in order that the youth who read it, may enjoy at the same time religious instruction, and get no books in his hands, where foreign doctrines are intermixed. It was committed to the members for deliberation and examination till next meeting.
  4. Letters from European Rabbis in regard to חליצה and עגונות, were then introduced. The members resolved to study on those questions ש״ס and פוסקים, and to prepare their opinion, founded on the Din, on those questions by next meeting. They also intend to exchange their views with the most renowned Beth-Dins and Rabbis of Europe, to devise means to remedy the evils existing in these regards. 

  5. The questions which had come from American congregations, were then laid before the meeting, and also the decisions given already in letters from the members of the Beth-Din, and those which remained were decided during the meeting.
  6. On motion of the President it was resolved, That every member should make a proposition, how the organization of the young congregations in America could be the best promoted. Although it is clear that no fixed rules can be made, as the situations under which the new congregations form themselves are often very different, yet well-meant counsels, given in accordance with the spirit of our age, it is hoped will prove of great benefit. The education of the children is to be chiefly considered, and a plan of education the principal aim in the plans to be proposed.
  7. The last resolution adopted was to the effect, that the next meeting shall be held at Albany, and the day of the meeting be published in The Occident. Every one interested in the welfare of Israel is invited to attend, and participate in the deliberations, as the meetings of the Beth-Din are public.

All the Congregations are especially invited to send their questions, as usual, to Dr. Lilienthal, No. 21½ Eldridge Street, whose pleasure it will be to reply always as quickly as possible.

It was also resolved, that a copy of the Resolutions shall be sent to Rabbi Dr. Kohlmayer, in New Orleans, as a member of the Beth-Din.

Chief Rabbi Dr. Lilienthal, President
Rabbi Wise, D. D.
H. Felsenheld.