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American Reform Rabbi Says Jewish Education in U.S. is Total Failure

An American Reform rabbi said today that Jewish education in the United States was “a total and devastating failure.” Rabbi David Polish, of Evanston, Ill., spoke during the 81st annual convention of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the rabbinic arm of American Reform Judaism, of which he is vice president. The convention is the organization’s first to be held in Israel. Rabbi Polish said Reform synagogues should spend an estimated $5 million of their annual religious school budgets to send youngsters on part time study programs to Israel. The order of priorities must be reversed, he said. “First it is necessary to obtain the commitment of the young and then they should be given a Jewish education.” Orthodox day schools that try it the other way around have proved a failure, he said.

Rabbi Roland B. Gittelsohn, of Boston, president of the CCAR charged the Soviet Union with “cold-blooded libel against Jews all over the world” in its latest campaign against Israel and Zionism. He said the campaign was designed to carry out Russia’s “imperialistic designs for influence in the Mideast.” He charged the Soviet authorities with using “coercion and blackmail to compel some Jews within the Soviet Union to affix their signatures to transparently specious anti-Israel statements.”