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20 Teenagers Complete 6-week Effort to Help Anti-poverty Program in Los Angeles

Twenty Jewish teenagers, who have just completed a six-week effort to help anti-poverty programs in the black ghettos of Los Angeles as members of the third Los Angeles Eisendrath Mitzvah Corps, have learned that they cannot “change the world” but that “they are still challenged to plan for the betterment of their own communities,” a Reform official said today.

The young workers were selected from recommendations made by their rabbis, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the association of Reform congregations, and the UAHC Southern California branch. The Mitzvah Corps is a project of the National Federation of Temple Youth. During their stay here, the corpsmen lived in a fraternity house at the University of Southern California. They spent their days at anti-poverty project offices and attended evening lectures and discussion sessions.

Rabbi Erwin L. Herman, the UAHC regional director, said the teenagers volunteered because they wanted their religious ties to be relevant to the growing social problems in the United States. Lennard Thal, a rabbinical student at the Hebrew Union College, said the aim of the Mitzvah Corps was to give volunteers insight from their ghetto involvement. He said the teenagers had learned what could and could not be done and that it was hoped they would take those insights “back to their homes and congregations, to influence the adults who hold the potential for affecting change.”

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