BUFFALO, N.Y. (Dec. 28)
Two Conservative youth organizations, holding their annual conventions here called today for striking new innovations in the synagogue and in Jewish education curricula to halt the trend toward alienation and disaffection of Jewish youth. The two groups, both affiliated with the United Synagogue of America, were the ATID, composed of college-aged youth, and United Synagogue Youth, composed of high school age youngsters.
Among the proposals adopted by the two parleys was a plea to the rabbis to discard ministerial robes and relocate the “bima” or podium in the center of the synagogue so as to bring the synagogue and the spiritual leader closer to the congregation. Establishment of parent-youth committees to advise and update the services and rotating committees to perform the services and deliver sermons, were also recommended.
David Shneyer, a Rutgers University student, called for a “positive and constructive alternative to present-day synagogue life.” Officers and members of synagogues, he said, should be required to take a course in adult education in history and relevancy. Parents, he said, should participate with their children in the religious experience and in the work of the synagogue.
The main thrust of the youth proposals came in the areas of Jewish education. David Schwartz, president of United Synagogue Youth, who called for an upgrading of Jewish education, charged that “the majority of youth do not find Judaism meaningful and a relevant force in their lives.”
Recommendations for reform of Jewish education called for revision of curricula in Hebrew elementary and high schools to include “applied” Jewish culture; “relevancy” courses at the high school level, and draft counseling programs in the high schools and synagogue centers.
Mr. Shneyer called for better pay scales in the Hebrew schools to make the jobs attractive for the best teachers and proposed that the Hebrew schools welcome faculty members from other institutions, other rabbis and college students, noting that “even if they have gaps in their Jewish education, if chosen for their communicative and inspirational value, they can serve as a viable faculty force for the Hebrew high school.”