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Needs of Jewish Young Adultsdiscussed by Three Major National Groups

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The urgent need to know more about the Jewish concerns, attitudes and goals of Jewish young adults through local, regional and national research efforts and experimental pilot projects sponsored under total Jewish community auspices was underscored at a two-day consultative seminar held here under the Joint auspices of the B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundations, National Jewish Welfare Board and Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds.

More than 50 Hillel Foundation directors, Jewish Community Center executives, Federation executives, rabbis and educators, and program specialists from a variety of other national and local Jewish agencies participated in the sessions. Rabbi Benjamin M. Kahn, national director of the B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundations, Sanford Solender, executive vice-president of JWB, and Philip Bernstein, executive director of CJFWF, who took key roles in the seminar, hailed the consultation as an instrument of focusing the attention and efforts of the Jewish community on the needs of Jewish young adults.

In the course of the consultation, speakers pointed out the need for more coordinated sharing of resources, skills and experience in service being rendered to Jewish young adults on all levels of the Jewish community. All efforts in the service of the Jewish young adult should be participated in by all constituents of the Jewish community, it was stressed. Such efforts, it was noted, should include the rabbinate and the religious institutions of America, the Jewish educators and the educational system, both of which have a pre-eminent role of influence in the upbringing of our young.

COORDINATION OF EFFORTS BY ALL JEWISH ORGANIZATIONS URGED

The differences in methods and approaches among Jewish organizations and institutions in America need not preclude, it was pointed out, coordination of effort, joint research projects, and national consultation. Leaders from several communities indicated their hope that community experimental programs towards reaching larger numbers of Jewish young adults could be undertaken, as well as research projects. The importance of carefully evaluating the process involved in all projects in which young people participate was emphasized.

Running through all the discussions of the consultations was the conviction that in working with and for Jewish young adults, the goals must be related to meeting the life needs of Jewish young adults in a changing world. Speakers advixed against viewing the problem of the young Jewish adult out of the context of educational and emotional development from infancy to old age. The early years of the young adult, when he first begins his Jewish education and is still under the influence of the home environment, and where the attention has to be focused from the very outset, it was urged.

The consultation participants sought to cope with effective ways of reaching out to Jewish young adults, to formulate a practical program for encouraging their participation in Jewish communal life, to determine what are appropriate roles for young adults in Jewish community affairs and to plan to assemble data related to this community problem.

The Jewish Young Adult Consultation grew out of research conducted by JWB, the B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundations, CJFWF and other Jewish groups as well as the recognition that there is urgent need to intensify activities to encourage meaningful involvement in Jewish community activities by a segment of the Jewish population rapidly increasing in numbers and in proportion to the total Jewish population.

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