From Synagogue Toward Yeshiva:
Institutionalized Cult or Congregations of the Learned?
The synagogue was once a building where men met to pray and study; today it is an “institution,” often more social than religious. The rabbi was once a scholar-saint; now he is usually a “professional,” a clergyman. Thoughtful Orthodox Jews in America have tried to resist the modern transformation of the rabbi into a religious functionary, but, paradoxically enough, they have often found ‘themselves adding momentum to the new trend in the very act of seeking to reverse it. Orthodoxy, however, has shown a deeper appreciation of the true meaning of rabbi and synagogue in Jewish tradition than have Conservatism and Reform. Setting its face resolutely against the present cult of synagogue and minister in Jewish life, it is trying to recover for the rabbi his old primacy as teacher and man of learning, and through him and the Jewish school to restore Jewry to its old role as a “nation of priests and a holy people.”
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