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Orthodox Leader Urges U.S. Funds for Secular Phases of Private Schools

An Orthodox Jewish spokesman proposed, during a hearing of the House Education subcommittee yesterday, specific federal subsidies for secular courses in non-public schools. In urging such federal funding, Rabbi Morris Sherer, executive president of Agudath Israel of America, told the legislators that “the era of tokenism, of appeasing the non-public schools with left-over crumbs from the public educational table, must end as we enter the 70’s,” The Orthodox group sponsors a number of Jewish day schools.

Rabbi Sherer urged payment of salaries of teachers of secular subjects in non-public schools, vouchers of $100 to $250 to parents of day school pupils to help defray tuition charges, increased auxiliary services, and allocations for construction of facilities used for non-religious purposes. He rejected proposals for use of “shared time” facilities, which would require religious school students to receive instruction in some subjects in public schools. He said such proposals negated “the basic educational philosophy of the Jewish day schools, which attempt to mold the entire personality of the child into a homogeneous unit.”

He also told the subcommittee that there had been a “major change in the public climate of acceptance of the non-public schools” since his first appearance before the same committee in 1960. He said Congress must “cease going through the motions of pacifying so-called ‘pressure groups’ and adopt legislative programs that will in a meaningful way help defray the costs of the secular studies of the non-public schools.”

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