NEW YORK (Aug. 30)
Jewish teen-agers trained in Reform Temples feel secure as Jews, and are of the opinion that anti-Semitism is “dying” in this country, according to a survey made public today by the Union of American Hebrew Congregations.
The survey established that Jewish youth are not running away from Judaism and that they are strongly against intermarriage, although they do not oppose “dating” non-Jews. Of about 900 teen-agers questioned, 95 percent of those who answered the questionnaire said they would be reborn as Jews if they had a choice and had to do it over again.
The survey was conducted among youths attending regional camps of the National Federation of Temple Youth, and affiliate of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations. It was directed by Rabbi Jerome K. Davidson, assistant rabbi at Temple Beth El, Great Neck, L. I. Evaluating the sentiments expressed by the Reform Jewish youths, Rabbi Davidson said that one reason for their way of thinking is that the “religious revival” has hit Jews as well as Christians in this country. A second is that the boys and girls questioned did not feel any anti-Jewish sentiment in the communities where they lived, and from that they generalized that it did not exist elsewhere.
Today in America, the rabbi said, Judaism is accepted as an American faith–if you are a Protestant, Catholic or a Jew, you are considered part of the mainstream. Twenty years ago, he said, other Americans considered Jews of a marginal faith. In his report, Davidson suggests that rabbis who educate children to meet anti-Semitism are dealing with a problem of yesterday. It would be far more significant, he said, for them to train youth to see their social responsibilities as Jews in the American community.
Rabbi Davidson found surprisingly little social idealism among the young people he talked to, and he thinks this might be an extension of their feeling of security. “Their lack of idealism comes from being satisfied with being American teen-agers,” he said. “They are not rebelling against their parents, and they are not rebelling against the world except on the intellectual level. They hate segregation and they hate the suffering of the poor. But they see little of this in their communities, so it doesn’t bother them.”