Severely arraigning the “richest and greatest Jewish community the world has ever known,” for its neglect to provide for the moral training of its children, Louis Marshall made a surring plea for Jewish education to five hundred men and women who gathered at the Hotel Astor Sunday night to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the founding of the Jewish Education Association. As the result of his appeal and that of Jonah J. Goldstein. Israel Unterberg, Felix M. Warburg, Bernard Semel, Mrs. Jacob Schwartz, and Mrs. Joseph Leblang, $500,000 was pledged for the efforts of the Jewish Education Association during the coming year. This sum will be used to provide scholarships for the religious training of ten thousand children, whose parents would otherwise be unable to give them religious schooling. The Jewish Education Association is at present, by means of scholarships, prize awards, and by assistance in the maintenance of schools and the repair of buildings helping nearly 90.000 of New York’s 300,000 Jewish children to get a religious education.
“The Jews of this country have been extraordinarily generous in many directions,” declared Louis Marshall in his address. “Probably no people of like numbers have ever done so much for those who need advice, assistance and support. We are keeping alive more than one half of the Jews of the world. But great as are our obligations to help the sick, the war sufferers, the needy, the greatest need of all is the education of the children of the Jews of the United States. This problem is the most neglected. It is the one direction in which the Jews of America have failed to measure up to their obligations and opportunities. We have become probably the richest community of Jews the world has ever known. And yet we are obliged to admit that our children are still groping in darkness. Fifty years ago, when the Jew was still struggling in the ghetto, or endeavoring to rise out of its shackles, we had no Jewish criminals, no Jewish boys and girls in houses of refuge, no Jewish violators of law, for even though a family could give very little material advantage to its children, it made certain of their moral training. Today, despite infinitely better opportunities, parents are so busy amassing a fortune that they pay little or no attention to the moral teaching of their children. These people are achieving what all the tyrants of the world could not accomplish. In the days of their prosperity they are throwing away that faith for which for countless ages, Jews suffered martyredom.
“The Jewish education association should be treated as the favorite child of the community for it is taking an army of children and making them truly representative of our faith and our race.” Mr. Marshall stated.
Felix M. Warburg challenged the statement that the Jews do not know their own faith, and emphasized the significance of the work of the association.
“Giving our youth a Jewish education is giving them a heritage that will prove more valuable than mere earthly possessions,” declared Jonah J. Goldstein, chairman of the scholarship fund campaign of the organization.
A message from President Coolidge, sent through his secretary, was read:
“The President wishes me to say how glad he was to learn of the good work of the Jewish Education Association and of its coming fifth anniversary,” the letter read. “As you know, he is deeply interested in all work of this kind and understands just how important religious life is in the development of our country.
“The President wishes me to send your organization his greeting and best wishes for the good work.”
Israel Unterberg, president of the association, introduced Bernard Semel, its secretary, as toastmaster.
Judge Otto A. Rosalsky called attention to the estrangement of thousands of children from Judaism. “Their falling away from the religious belief of their fathers is a phenomenon that has caused great misgivings among the leaders of our people,” he said.
“The public interest in the matter of religious education arises from the fact that nothing replaces, nor, indeed, can replace the abandoned faith. The moral strength of a country is the strength of the religious convictions of its people. To train children in the faith of their fathers will implant in them love for God and country. Rearing children in religion is a guarantee that they will not veer from rectitude, but that they will develop self-re-straint, practice benevolence and respect law and order.”
Mr. Israel Unterberg, president of the Jewish Education Association, declared that when the organization was started only one in five of the Jewish children in Greater New York was receiving any sort of religious instruction. He stated that this number has been increased by nearly 20,000 through the efforts of the Jewish Education Association, until today 25 per cent of the Jewish boys and girls are being taught the history and precepts of their religion.