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Jewish Students Reject ‘god is Dead’ Debate As Christian Issue

A group of 221 Jewish students participating in the annual summer institute of the B’nai B’rith Pillel Foundation here, was seen today to be in general agreement that, while they accept the existence of God, they have severe doubts as to whether the Supreme Being has any meaning for their own existence. The students, from 129 American and Canadian colleges, dismissed the “God is dead” debate as a “Christian controversy.”

The viewpoint of the student participants on the “God is dead” debate was summarized by a Princeton University junior who said that American Jewish undergraduates “are all believers, divided between those who think about it and those who do not.” However, many of the students questioned in seminars and workshops whether it was possible to achieve a concept of God acceptable to both modern man and to Jewish tradition.

The students applauded an address by Rabbi Jack Cohen, Hillel director at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, in which he challenged current educational practices and asserted that the contemporary Jewish community “must catch up with its ancestors by providing a quality of Jewish education based on free inquiry rather than on schools of indoctrination.”

A 19-member faculty of Hillel directors and guest lecturers guided the eight-day seminar on whether “Jewish distinctiveness” has contemporary meaning and purpose. The institute opened last Sunday, Thirty-two of the students attended a special conference, which they had requested, on possibilities of careers in Jewish communal programs. Rabbi Max Ticktin, summer institute director, arranged the conference.

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