NEW YORK (Apr. 16)
All three branches of Judaism–Orthodox, Reform and Conservative–in this country “will probably have to increase their recruiting efforts” for students for the Rabbinate if the rise in interest in synagogue life is to continue. The New York Times said today in the conclusion of a study conducted by the newspaper on the shortage of rabbis and rabbinical students.
Officials of Yeshiva University, declared the Times, “have decided that heavy pumping is necessary” to bring more students into the rabbinical field. The survey shows that the student body at the University’s Rabbi Elchanan Theological Seminary, which trains rabbis for Orthodox congregations, declined from 160 in 1956 to 92 in 1958, but rose again last fall to ill.
Posing the question whether the post-war surge of religious feelings is coming to an end, the Times survey establishes that “there are signs that it is.” It supports this assertion by pointing out that “Protestant, Catholic and Jewish leaders find they are unable to attract enough youth to religious vocations. “
“It is feared, ” the Times stresses, “that the popular interest in religion may dissipate before it can be captured and transformed into meaningful gains for the faiths.” Giving figures on the shortage of rabbis and rabbinical students, the paper says that the Jewish groups are “accepting the shortage of rabbis as a continuing fact, ” attributing the situation chiefly to the fact that the large population moves to the suburbs has increased the number of synagogues and temples in recent years.