FALLSBURG, N.Y. (Jun. 23)
Jewish leaders as well as university educators were called upon today “to restore the religious and the moral standards of the university campus.” The call was voiced by Rabbi Harold P. Smith of Chicago, in addressing the convention of the Rabbinical Council of America, an Orthodox rabbinical organization, now taking place here. Rabbi Smith is a past president of the organization.
“There has been a breakdown in the whole ethical structure which has typified the college community of the past,” Rabbi Smith told the delegates. “This serious campus situation is not attributable to students who come from impoverished and depressed environments; the instigators of the recent collegiate riots are representative of economically favored and culturally advantaged homes.”
Rabbi Smith said that “parents are committing a great injustice and moral wrong by encouraging their children to enroll in out-of-state schools of fashionable vogue and glamorous reputation. By living away from home, these offspring tend to obliterate the influences of religion and social morality in their scale of personal values. Parents should not be swayed by the current ideas of sociologists and educators relating to the desirability of sending their children to far-off centers of higher learning. It is unfortunate that several American professors and high school instructors have recently advocated and condemned sharp breaks from conventional moral standards.”
Dr. Samuel Belkin, president of the Yeshiva University, speaking at the convention, warned the American Jewish community that its survival in a pluralistic and materialistic society “is in jeopardy unless the Jews stress the primacy of religious values in their daily routines of living.” He further warned that “religion should not retreat into an ivory tower by allowing theory to replace action and philosophy to displace practice.” Religious institutions and leaders should cope with the varied problems which challenge modern living.” he urged.
Dr. Bernard Lander, director of the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Yeshiva University maintained that freedom is not a threat to the survival of the American Jewish community. “If anything, liberty should unleash a new golden era of Jewish spiritual creativity in our democratic society which is engaged in a struggle against the evil forces of totalitarianism,” he said. “The challenges confronting American Jewry are related to the ways and means of strengthening and kinship with the non-Jewish world,” he stated.