This Week in History: Rabbi Levinson Gives Account of Jewish Customs

Aliyah Williams


The following story was published by The Stroud Courier on Friday, Dec. 17, 1943. 

Only critical style issues have been changed. 

At a recent college assembly the student body and faculty members of East Stroudsburg State Teachers College were entertained with an interesting lecture by Rabbi Samuel J. Levinson of Brooklyn, New York. Representing the National Conference of Christians and Jews, he was scheduled through the Jewish Chautauqua Society, Cincinnati, Ohio. Rabbi Levinson is a leader of reform rabbis, a member of the “Central Conference of American Rabbis” and also an author of distinction. 

Describes Customs

As his theme, Rabbi Levinson chose “Jewish Custom and Traditions.” Dwelling upon the Jewish religion, he related that the history of Indaism is 3,500 years old. Characterized American, French and Italian Indaism is distinguished by its observances. “Indaism,” Rabbi Levinson says, “is inherently a way of life.” “It is an ethical monotheism – a belief in one god, who reigns in just immortality of the soul, a belief in moral conduct in man’s relation to man.” 

Jewish Holidays

Rabbi Levinson discussed the various holidays observed by the Jews, the Day of Atonement and New Year’s on which one givens himself to confession, penitence and fasting, the Seven Day season which is of rejoicing, singing and thanksgiving. The Passover festival is celebrated with the eating of unleavened bread and remembering the sacrifices that man makes for liberty of the soul and conscience. The Harvest festival is held in early fall with the spirit of beauty and simplicity. Although those previously mentioned are important, the holiest day is the Sabbath and its violation is unforgivable. 

Rabbi Levinson also explained the three-fold character of the synagogue as being a house of worship, a house of prayer or study or a meeting place for the discussion of world topics. 

The three forms of Indaism are the Orthodox in which the ritual is in Hebrew and is entirely fundamental; Conservatism in which the ritual is also Hebrew; and the Reform in which the ritual is in English and none of the symbolic practice is used. 

A brief question and answer period was conducted at the close of the lecture.