Digest of Public Opinion on Jewish Matters

[The purpose of the Digest is information: Preference is given to papers not generally accessible to our readers. Quotation does not indicate approval.-Editor.]

The movement for Bible reading in the public schools, which last week suffered a defeat in California through the rejection of the Bible reading bill by the State Legislature, is discussed by Rabbi Edgar F. Magnin in the “B’nai B’rith Messenger” of Oct. 29.

Opposing Bible reading in the public schools, Rabbi Magnin writes, in part:

“The question arises, What about those children whose parents do not think it worth while to send them to church or synagogue? My answer is that those children are going to miss something in their lives that is worth while. I feel sorry for them. I feel sorry for their parents, but I would not contend, on the other hand, that the lack of this training will send them ultimately to the penitentiary or make them undesirable citizens. Nature has a way of taking care of situations. The Lord has made us almost fool-proof, bodily, mentally and spiritually as well. By the laws of average, most people are endowed with fairly good minds and hearts. They pick up their instruction in many ways. They have the example of neighbors, friends and leaders. They fear public opinion and the law. They soon see that it pays to do right. They can secure cheaply, and, in fact, for nothing, information through lectures, periodicals and books. And the religious instinct that inheres in most people by natural endowment crops to the surface again and again even when technical training is lacking. Sooner or later all people drop in at a church or read a sermon or require the services of a minister. Very few people are entirely isolated from such influences or make it a religious point to steer clear of all religious influences. If anything, I have found such people to be very often not those who did not receive a religious training, but those who received it in the wrong way or who, through education and observation, however, one sided it may be, have become prejudiced against ministers and churches by reading of religious persecutions. Most normal people do not possess such feelings of hostility toward religious leaders and institutions. And in certain periods of their lives, when the need is felt, wander back again to the old fold and seek the sweet and comforting ministrations and inspiring lessons of some religious leader whom they trust and like.”

Beth E1 College of Jewish Studies of Detroit which opened last year as an experiment in systematic Jewish education for adults has reopened this season with an enrollment of two hundred and fifty. Among the courses given are: “Comparative Religion,” “Bible Literature,” “Modern Jewish Literature,” “Modern Jewish History,” “Pedagogy,” and “Hebrew.” Rabbi Leon Fram, associate of Dr. Leo M. Franklin at Temple Beth El, Detroit, is director of the College of Jewish Studies.

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