Jewish education without religion is estranging Jews from Judaism, declared speakers at the concluding session of the Fifth Annual Conference of the National Council for Jewish Education which met at the Jewish Club. Dr. Mordecai M. Kaplan of the Society for the Advancement of Judaism and Ludwig Vogelstein, chairman of the Executive Committee of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, were the principal speakers. Dr. Leo L. Honor of Chicago, presided.
Professor Kaplan, in his address which dealt with “How to Teach Religion in the Jewish Schools,” advocated the training of teachers who would specialize in the science and pedagogy of religion. Men and women, Dr. Kaplan said, who devote themselves exclusively to teaching ought to qualify as teachers with the same concentration of attention to pedagogic details as those who qualify as teachers of subjects like music or the arts. The teaching of religion should not be entrusted, he added, to the average teacher, for it requires considerable specialization.
ELECT NEW OFFICERS
Following Dr. Kaplan’s address, the election of officers took place with Dr. Alexander M. Dushkin of Chicago chosen as president. B. Isaacs of Detroit, Michigan, was elected treasurer and Dr. Mordecai Soltes, secretary. The new executive committee is composed of I. Abrams, Pittsburgh, Pa.; S. Benderly, New York City; I. S. Chipkin, New York City; E. Gamoran, Cincinnati; J. S. Golub, Cincinnati; A. H. Friedland, Cleveland; Ben Edidin, Chicago; L. L. Honor, Chicago; Louis Hurwich, Boston; M. M. Kaplan, New York; J. B. Pollak, New York; Ben Rosen, Philadelphia; Z. H. Scharfstein, New York; A. P. Schoolman, New York; M. Soltes, New York.
A luncheon was tendered to the delegates by the Department of Synagogue and School Extension of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, with Ludwig Vogelstein acting as host. In his address, Mr. Vogelstein stated that a large portion of the present generation of American Jews is growing away from Judaism. The problem of winning it back can be solved to a great extent, he emphasized, by Jewish educators.
PRESENT GENERATION ESTRANGED
“There is no doubt,” Mr. Vogelstein said, “that the generation which has now grown to manhood is largely estranged from our religion. Judging from my experience, I do not believe these men and women are entirely lost to Judaism. The best elements of this generation will find their way back to the faith of their fathers as they grow older and assume family responsibilities, especially the education of their children. However, having lost one generation in the mad scramble for material wealth and in the course of adjustment of immigrant families to American conditions, let us consider how we can save the children of this generation. These youngsters have been born in America. Many of their parents were born here and they are quite adjusted to their surroundings. In short, they are American boys and girls.”
In the evening a dinner was tendered to the delegates by the Jewish Education Association of New York City at which members of the Council and other speakers commended the Board of Education of the City of New York for its cooperation in inaugurating a course in Hebrew in the local high schools. Among those who spoke were Dr. H. G. Campbell, Associate Superintendent of Schools; Jacob Billikopf, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Federation of Jewish Charities; Israel S. Chipkin, Israel Unterberg, president of the Jewish Education Association and Bernard Semel.