Jews Oppose Introduction of Prayer to ‘almighty God’ in Schools

Jewish opposition to a proposal that moral and spiritual values be taught in the public schools–as distinct from moral and ethical values–was expressed here today in a dissent from a recommendation made in Albany yesterday by the New York State Committee for the 1960 White House Conference on Children and Youth.

The White House Conference will convene next week. In its report to Governor Nelson Rockefeller, the 142-man New York State group endorsed a statement made by the New York State Board of Regents, in 1951, recommending that each school day start not only with the pledge of allegiance to the flag, but also with a prayer to “Almighty God.”

In dissenting on behalf of the Jewish groups, Rabbi Harold H. Gordon, executive vice-president of the New York Board of Rabbis, declared that “the proper place for this highly charged emotional realm of religious and spiritual values” is in the home, church or synagogue–and not in the public school. “If thrown into the arena of the public school,” he stated, “they can only be a source of constant wrangling and ill-will among the three faiths that make up our state.”

At least eight rabbis and lay Jewish religious leaders will participate in the White House Conference, and other Jewish leaders and educators are scheduled to deliver papers or preside at forums and workshops during the White House deliberations.

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