Religion and the World
March 1971

“Religion and the World,” Ensign, Mar. 1971, 65

Religion and the World

Rabbi Joseph Karasick of New York, president of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, which represents three thousand congregations in the U.S. and Canada, has proposed that a single body of clergy and laymen be established to end “duplication, rivalry, and wasted fragmentation” in American Orthodox Judaism. He expects to call a national conference of Orthodox rabbinic and lay leaders to discuss his proposal.

The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council in 1965 rejected anti-Semitism, repudiated the charge of collective Jewish guilt for the death of the Christ, and encouraged study and dialogue between Christians and Jews. Late in 1970, Rabbi Marc H. Tanenbaum, director of interreligious affairs of the American Jewish Committee, released a survey indicating that while “impressive interreligious understanding” between Christian and Jewish communities has been achieved, the old basic problems remain in many parts of the world. He attributed it to the failure of local churches to educate “their parishioners in accordance with the Vatican Council’s declaration.”

The Supreme Moslem Council of Jerusalem has decided to reopen the Dome of the Rock to Christians and Jews. The mosque, which is the site of Solomon’s Temple, has been closed to non-Moslems since it was set afire in August 1969 by a radical Christian incendiary. The southeastern wing was heavily damaged by the fire.

An estimated 13,785,000 Jews are living in the world today, with 5,870,000 of them in the United States, according to the 1970 American Jewish Year Book. There are 2,497,000 Jews in Israel. The United States, Soviet Union, and Israel have seventy-nine percent of the world’s Jews.

More than sixty thousand professors teaching in United States universities, in response to a questionnaire of the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education, indicated a drop-out rate from their early religious affiliations of 29.2 percent of the Protestants, 23.3 percent of the Catholics, and 33.3 percent of the Jews. Most of these drop-outs claim no present religious affiliations, but 6 percent report that they now follow religions other than the three major designations. The drop-out rate was highest among teachers of anthropology, followed by those in psychology, sociology, and philosophy.

Pope Paul VI has voiced “deep grief” at the passage of a liberalized divorce law in Italy. Vatican opposition to the law was based on “the most serious harm that divorce brings to the Italian family, and especially to the children.” Lay Catholics have announced that they will seek 500,000 signatures on a petition requesting a referendum to abrogate the law.