B’nai B’rith Hillel Conference of Jewish Student Leaders Opens

More than 200 selected Jewish student leaders from various universities throughout the country assembled here today at the National Hillel Summer Institute which is taking place at Camp B’nai B’rith. The Institute, which opened today, will continue for a full week.

The students, representing the B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundations and Counselorship in the universities, will hear talks by competent Jewish educators on subjects concerning Jewish knowledge and traditions. B’nai B’rith Hillel units exist on 235 campuses and provide a program of Jewish religious, cultural and educational content for about 250,000 students.

The opening session today was addressed by Rabbi Maurice B. Pekarsky of the University of Chicago. Speaking on the subject “The Sabbath as Idea and Experience,” he emphasized that “through the study of this basic institution, the Sabbath, students are helped to see more concretely how the theological, social, and ethical ideas of Judaism are interwoven in a system of law and custom.”

At another B’nai B’rith conference–the annual national staff conference of the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization–50 social group workers were told that one of their major tasks as informal Jewish educators was to induce Jewish youth to ask itself if the ancient values of Judaism have functioned in modern times to help preserve not only Judaism but also all mankind.

“If so,” said Rabbi Ira Eisenstein, president of the Jewish Reconstructionist Foundation, “Jewish youth owes it to the greater society, of which it is a part, to know these values, to absorb them and to translate them into terms of immediate significance and applicability.”

Rabbi Eisenstein described a current practice of urging a return to Jewish identification as a form of psychotherapy. He said Jewish youth had been urged to return to the fold because by so doing, they will free themselves from inferiority complexes. “There is something unworthy about invoking the whole of 4, 000 years of tradition, learning, suffering and dreaming just for the purpose of making David feel more secure,” he declared.

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