Divisive Trends in Jewish Education Discussed at National Conference of Educators

Dr. Elijah Bortniker, president and executive director of the Jewish Education Association of Essex County today warned of some of the disruptive and conflicting trends which now obtain within the field of Jewish education and the Jewish community in general. He spoke at the opening session of the 41st Annual Conference of the National Council for Jewish Education, attended by more than 200 Jewish educators from all parts of the country. The Council Conference is meeting together with the National Conference of Jewish Communal Service.

Dr. Bortniker noted some of the positive developments that have taken place in Jewish education such as increase in the number of pupils in Jewish schools, the expansion of the all-day school, the growth in the study of the Hebrew language, growth of Jewish educational camping, and larger number of students enrolled in Hebrew high schools. “However, within the American Jewish community there seems to be a trend towards divisiveness and an emphasis on ideological differences rather than an emphasis on unity,” he said. “Such differences tend to make for duplication of activities and fragmentation of purposes.”

“We are breaking up into what are presumably components of the Jewish community, but actually into disparate and separate sub-units. Group differences are, of course, natural, in fact inescapable. But when these reach a stage of inability to work together in areas where common enterprise is essential, then we are facing an unfavorable prognosis,” he stated. He urged the members of the National Council to be actively concerned with the community approach to Jewish education and to stress the need for unity.

The National Council for Jewish Education is the overall professional organization of Jewish educators in the United States. It comprises in its membership men and women in the profession of Jewish education in the administrative and supervisory positions of local and national Jewish educational agencies, principals of all types of Jewish schools, instructors in Hebrew high schools and Hebrew colleges and instructors in arts and crafts, dancing, dramatics and related fields. Membership includes representation of all ideological viewpoints and trends in American Jewish life.

NEXT STORY