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Parley Told Desire for Judaism, Not Status, Sparks Synagogue Trend

The great number of Jews affiliating with synagogues today are not doing so because of “status-seeking” as some social scientists claim, but because they have a “genuine desire to come closer to Judaism,” Dr. Bernard Segal, executive director of the United Synagogue of America, affirmed tonight in his address opening the biennial convention of the organization. Twelve hundred delegates, representing 685 congregations in 260 cities are attending the five-day parley.

The Conservative leader noted that some described the current return to religion as a response to a need for “status” or “group identification” and others attributed it to the Jewish population shift to the suburbs. If the individuals really were seeking status, Dr. Segal said, other institutions were better equipped to offer it to them. Synagogue construction, he said, could not keep pace with demand but non-synagogue institutions “are offering the commodities of Jewish identification at lower prices and lower personal commitments.”

Rabbi Segal also said that in scores of communities across the continent, “the Conservative synagogue is the spearhead of a maximum program of Jewish education.” In Philladelphia,. he said, of 27,000 children enrolled in Jewish schools, 15,000 were handling schools under Conservative auspices.

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