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A. J. C. Reports Israelis Show More Interest in Religious Freedom

Growing interest among Israeli students about Jews living elsewhere in the world, a desire on the part of many Israelis to strengthen the Jewishness in their lives, and concern about religious freedom for the individual were highlights among the observations brought back this weekend by a delegation of 50 younger leaders of the American Jewish Committee, who have just returned from a two-week intensive study mission in Israel and brief visits to Rome and Paris.

A preliminary report on the trip, issued for the group by its co-chairman, Richard Maass and Gerard Weinstock, described the early findings of a three-year attitude study sponsored by the AJC among Israeli youth. The research is being conducted by the Institute of Contemporary Jewry of the Hebrew University, in collaboration with the department of psychology. Prof. Moshe Davis, director of the Institute, was reported telling the group that he had found among Israeli students “far greater concern and interest in Jews throughout the world” than he had anticipated. Dr. Shimon Herman, of the Hebrew University’s psychology department, added his belief that ” a majority of Israelis would like to strengthen the Jewish element in their identity.”

On the matter of religious freedom, the delegation stated: “We have long been deeply concerned with the complex relationship of the state to religion as it affects Jewish life in Israel. We were therefore pleased to receive assurances from Israel’s highest officials, including leaders of the National Religious Party, that they were strongly opposed to any form of coercion, whether religious or anti-religious, and that Israel would steadfastly adhere to the principle that there must be no interference with the religious life of any individual.”

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