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Jewish Teenagers Appeal for Community Guidance on Draft Decisions

A majority of Jewish teenagers questioned at a convention in Chicago last week indicated they were uncertain about the options available to them in the draft laws and indicated differences of opinion about seeking deferment on grounds of conscientious objection to war. Many of the delegates participating in counseling sessions at the 18th annual convention of the United Synagogue Youth, a Conservative affiliate, expressed the wish to discuss these questions with their rabbis and teachers. Results of the interviews were made available here today.

A majority of the 100 young people questioned said they had discussed such issues with their parents but only ten said they had received advice from their rabbis. They asked for more direct counseling from Jewish organizations and spiritual leaders. Two thirds of those questioned said they opposed the draft because of United States involvement in the Vietnam war. The delegates ranged in age from 14 to 17.

Rabbi Saul Teplitz of New York, chairman of the USY commission, said greater effort should be made by the Jewish community to help teenagers on matters of conscientious objection and attitudes toward pacifism. He noted that while Judaism has always been a religion committed to peace, it has found situations – such as World War II against Nazism and the Israel Arab conflicts – “where the struggle for justice demands war.”

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