Maurice Davis

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For other people named Maurice Davis, see Maurice Davis (disambiguation).
Rabbi Maurice Davis
Rabbi Maurice Davis.jpg
Rabbi Davis, Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation newsletter
Born (1921-12-15)December 15, 1921
Providence, Rhode Island, United States
Died December 14, 1993(1993-12-14) (aged 71)
Palm Coast, Florida, United States
Occupation Rabbi
Spouse(s) Marion Cronbach
Children 2 children, 6 grandchildren
Parent(s) Jack and Sadie Davis

Maurice Davis (December 15, 1921 – December 14, 1993[1]) was a rabbi, and human rights activist.[citation needed] He served on the President's Commission on Equal Opportunity, in the Lyndon B. Johnson Administration and was a director of the American Family Foundation, now known as the International Cultic Studies Association. Davis was the rabbi of the Jewish Community Center of White Plains, New York and a regular contributor to The Jewish Post and Opinion, where he had a column.


Personal and Family life[edit]

Rabbi Davis married Marion Cronbach, daughter of Rose Hentil and prominent reform rabbi and well-known pacifist (and Davis' teacher) Abraham Cronbach. Davis and his wife had two children, Jay (Bahir), who has two children and is the rabbi of Rocky Mountain Hai, a trans-denominational Havurah based in Colorado; and Michael, who has four children and is the rabbi of Congregation Emanu-El, Wichita, Kansas.

Civil rights work[edit]

In 1952, Davis founded the Kentucky Committee on Desegregation. In 1965 he marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama and was appointed to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by President Johnson.

Opposition to the Unification Church[edit]

In 1970, when two of his congregants' children became involved with the Unification Church, Davis began to educate himself more about the nature and methodology of groups he considered cults. He soon became involved in assisting the parents of "cult children".[2] Davis directed and appeared in the film, You Can Go Home Again, produced by the Union of American Hebrew Congregations. Davis observed commonalities among the young people he counseled that had joined cults. He found that most of these individuals were dropouts from mainline churches and synagogues - and that they were on a quest for idealism, community and a sense of belonging.[3]

Davis founded and headed the national anti-Moon organization called Citizens Engaged in Reuniting Families, which in 1976 comprised 500 families.[4] Davis stated that he received letters from distraught parents all over the United States, telling "the same story".[5] He elaborated his points, asserting that the recruitment tactics used by the Unification Church are "a form of hypnotism".[5] In November 1976, Rabbi Davis spoke at Temple Israel of Northern Westchester, New York, on the topic of "The Moon People And Our Children".[6] He has also compared the Unification Church to the Nazi Youth movement, and to the Peoples Temple.[7]

Other work opposing controversial groups[edit]

In 1980 Davis was sued for $2 million by a woman who claimed that he held her against her will in a deprogramming case.[8] Davis later testified at a Congressional panel organized by Senator Bob Dole that he had received death threats due to his statements.[7] In 1990, Davis criticized the Jews for Jesus movement as being "devious" and "deceptive". He further stated that people who accept Jesus as the Messiah are, by definition, Christians not Jews.[9]

Davis contributed as an advisor to the making of the film Split Image (1982), a story about a young man caught in a controversial Christian cult.

Later life[edit]

Herbert L. Rosedale, at the time president of the American Family Foundation, said of Davis: "A great and gentle radiance has left our scene with the death of Rabbi Maurice Davis. He was one of the people who first brought me into the circle of those devoted to helping cult victims. His compassion and vision were inspiring. He saw clearly the dangers which awaited those who lost their free will to totalism."


  • Brotherhood postponed. The time has come, and it has been a long time in coming. The time has come to worship with our lives as with our lips, in the streets as in the sanctuaries. And we who dare to call God, God, must begin to learn the challenge which that word contains.[10]
  • We know, and we must never forget, that every path leads somewhere. The path of segregation leads to lynching. The path of anti-Semitism leads to Auschwitz. The path of cults leads to Jonestown. We ignore this fact at our peril.[11]
  • The last time I ever witnessed a movement that had these qualifications: (1) a totally monolithic movement with a single point of view and a single authoritarian head; (2) replete with fanatical followers who are prepared and programmed to do anything their master says; (3) supplied by absolutely unlimited funds; (4) with a hatred of everyone on the outside; (5) with suspicion of parents, against their parents—the last movement that had those qualifications was the Nazi youth movement, and I'll tell you, I'm scared.[12]
  • They have distorted our holidays, demeaned our faith, misstated our history, and belittled a legacy which we have spent centuries preserving and enlarging.[9]
  • I keep thinking what happens when the power of love is twisted into the love of power.[13]



  1. ^ New York Times Obituary
  2. ^ Hypnosis for young adults: Freeing “the doctor who resides within”, Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy, ISSN 0022-0116, Volume 12, Number 2 / September, 1981.
  3. ^ "A Glass Half Empty", James J. DiGiacomo, America, Vol. 191 No. 7, September 20, 2004., ISSN: 0002-7049
  4. ^ Mad About Moon, TIME Magazine, November 10, 1975
    Last week Sheeran and 500 other parents met at a Westchester County synagogue whose rabbi, Maurice Davis, heads a 500-family national anti-Moon organization called Citizens Engaged in Reuniting Families. Some 20 young defectors from the Moon cult were present; several urged their elders to drive up to Barrytown and rescue their children. Distraught parents gave one another moral support.
  5. ^ a b United States Congressional Record, 94th Congress, United States House of Representatives, 2nd session, January 28, 1976, Congressional Record, Volume 122, Part 2.
    It’s frightening what these Moonies can do to the family unit..I get letters from parents all over the country telling me the same story..The kids are swept along by his outfit and then taken away for a few days to a ‘workshop.’ By the time the parents see their kids again – if they can manage to see them – the kids are starry-eyed and ready to take on anyone who disagrees with them. It’s a form of hypnotism. There is something very unhealthy going on.
  6. ^ A Temple on the Mount: A History of Temple Israel of Northern Westchester, by Jacob Judd, Ph.D., 1999, retrieved 2/8/07.
  7. ^ a b Cults Hearing Noisy, Tense, By Marjorie Hyer, Washington Post, Tuesday, February 6, 1979; Page A14
    .. they saved their deepest animus for Rabbi Maurice Davis of White Plains, N.Y., a prime mover in the anti-cult movement. He was repeatedly interrupted with shouts of "lies! That's a lie!" as he spoke of death threats he had received and likened the Unification Church to the Nazi Youth Movement and the Peoples Temple. The rabbi inflamed the crowd even further with his concluding comments: "I am here to protest against child molesters. For as surely as there are those who lure children with lollipops in order to rape their bodies, so, too, do these lure children with candy-coated lies in order to rape their minds."
  8. ^ Rabbi continues push for cult deprogramming, Syracuse Herald-Journal, Friday July 25, 1980
  9. ^ a b The Indianapolis Star, January 27, 1990, page A-8, By Carol Elrod, Star Religion Writer
    In his column in a recent issue of The Jewish Post and Opinion, a national newspaper, Rabbi Maurice Davis wrote that people who refer to themselves as Jews for Jesus, Hebrew Christians or Messianic Jews "have pretended not only that they are Jewish, which they are not, but that they speak for either Jews or Judaism, which they do not." "They have distorted our holidays, demeaned our faith, misstated our history, and belittled a legacy which we have spent centuries preserving and enlarging." Rabbi Davis, a former spiritual leader at Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation, went on to note that people who accept Jesus as the Messiah by definition Christians; they are not Jewish.
  10. ^ "Brotherhood Postponed: A Sermon by Rabbi Maurice Davis (March 26, 1965)"
  11. ^ "The Art of Hoping: A Mother’s Story", Cultic Studies Journal, Michael Langone, Ph.D.
  12. ^ Coming Out of Scientology: The Nightmare Ends, The Nightmare Begins
  13. ^ Masters and Slaves: The Tragedy of Jonestown, Fanita English, M.S.W., September 1, 1996 Vol.1, no.2, Idea, ISSN 1532-1712

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