NEW YORK (Dec. 28)
“The entire program of Jewish religious education in the United States is being imperiled by the headlong abandonment of the teaching profession by its members seeking greater security of working conditions and salary standards,” Dr. Pinkhos Churgin, dean of the Teachers Institute of Yeshiva University, declared last night.
Addressing the Annual Assembly of the Mizrachi National Education Committee at Yeshiva University, Dr. Churgin said that “substantial progress has been recorded in the last decade in Jewish education at the day elementary and day secondary levels.” However, the noted Jewish educator, who is president-designate of Bar-Ilan University in Israel, told the 100 delegates that “the record of progress was darkened by several shortcomings.”
Dr. Churgin warned that “the fact that some 50 percent of all Jewish children recieving some kind of a Jewish education are to be found in Sunday school classes marks a dangerous decline in the sense of Jewish responsibility of their parents. The Sunday School program has been clearly demonstrated to be totally inadequate even by the most eager standards of what basic information the child needs to discharge his religious obligations as a Jewish adult.
“Similar danger signals appear in any examination of the status of the Jewish teacher,” he said. “On the one hand, notable progress has been recorded in the training of religious school teachers and the number of such teachers annually being graduated from the various teachers institutes has been increasing steadily. Nevertheless, there is a growing shortage of Jewish teachers, not alone because of the expansion in schools and enrollment but also because of an unprecedented professional mortality of Jewish teachers,” he declared.
Rabbi Joseph Lookstein, retiring president of the Mizrachi National Education Committee, told the delegates that Jewish education in the United States “should be of as much concern to Zionists today as the establishment of a Jewish State was yesterday. The Zionists of America will have to realize, if they have not already done so, that the political phase of Zionism cannot any longer constitute the major part of Zionist activity, ” he added.
Isidor Margolis, executive director of the education agency, reported that there are at present in the United States and Canada at least 160 Jewish day schools, from the kindergarten through the high school level.
Mr. Margolis added that registration in elementary day schools has been increasing steadily during the past five years and that during “this school year to date there has been an 11 percent increase in registration in such schools over the corresponding period in the previous school year.”