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Jews Protest Religious Instruction in Ontario Public Schools

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The Canadian Jewish Congress told the provincial government of Ontario today that the west fears it had entertained eleven years ago before the introduction of religious instruction in the public schools of the province have been realized in the intervening years.

A Congress brief submitted by J. Irving Oelbaum and Sidney M. Harris to Premier Frost said: “Our forecasts of tensions, difficulties and dilemmas unfortunately have been almost fully realized.” Exemption of Jewish children from religious instruction it’s not proven an answer to the problem because it “set up unnecessary and unwarranted distinctions that create serious psychological hazards in the emotional development of children. It serves to divide rather than to unify.”

The Congress stated that Jewish children are taught doctrines that are in conflict with the tenets and practices of the Jewish faith, “and they are taught them in the public school which, of all institutions in our society, should be the one place where one would least expect to find such a disruptive practice.”

Two half-hour periods of religious instruction have been introduced in the first six grades despite Jewish objections formulated in a brief drafted by Louis Rosenberg which has since been accepted by authorities the world over as a classic statement of the Jewish position on the question of religious instruction in the public schools. Christian ministers presented their views to the Premier yesterday; they support the present practice.

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