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Educator Sees Growing ‘moral, Pathological Decline’ Among U.S. Jewish Youth

For the first time in its history, the American Jewish community has a serious youth problem which includes a “growing behavioral pathology which cannot be swept under the rug,” a New York youth educator told a meeting at the Brandeis Camp Institute. The educator, Dr. Graenum Berger, camp and education consultant of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York, added that loss of faith, failing family controls and “a moral and pathological decline” among Jewish young people was evoking concern among national Jewish leaders and organizations.

Dr. Berger cited estimates that 35 to 40 percent of the participants in the hippie center of Haight-Asbury in San Francisco had been Jewish, in asserting that the Jewish “profile was never more fragile than now.” He declared that “a decade ago Jewish youth was not involved with sex or drug escapades, alcoholism, suicide charts and negative social reactions” but now “a Jewish youth problem is beginning to manifest itself.”

Dr. Berger, who headed a delegation of 13 eastern Jewish camp directors, spoke at the close of a four-day study of the 27-year-old Institute’s methods in helping Jewish college students rediscover Judaism’s meaning in the modern world. He lauded the Brandeis Institute camp as an important “pilot project” in using contemporary techniques in efforts to re-involve Jewish youth in a heritage “that heretofore has protected strong family ties and healthy social patterns among the young.”

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