Rabbi Urges Jewish Community to Join with Activist Youth to Save Judaism

Rabbi Arthur Gilbert, dean of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, has called on Jews to join with other Americans in heeding youths’ criticisms of society before, not after, demonstrations and confrontations. He addressed the convention here of B’nai B’rith Grand Lodge District 5. College-educated Jewish youth “feel that American institutions have failed them,” Rabbi Gilbert asserted, continuing: “The synagogue is hollow. Three-million-dollar sanctuaries, where ritual is recited in which no one believes, and Jewish schools where mumbo-jumbo is repeated by untrained teachers without faith themselves, and Jewish community federations that put the favorite charities of the earliest and wealthiest Jewish immigrants ahead of programs for education, youth and social justice–these are the ultimate obscenities.”

These Jewish youth have in turn created a “counter-culture” of religious communes, picketing and an attempt to “embarrass the Jewish community into more decisive action,” Rabbi Gilbert declared. “We can no longer play around with these youth,” he said. “We must join them in order to save our Judaism.” But the rabbi condemned the use of drugs by youth disenchanted by society, noting in that connection that narcotics were not being used by radical Jewish youth. Rabbi Gilbert also declared that “No justification exists for an American government that pours billions into the Far East in support of immoral puppet regimes but falls to recognize that democratic Israel is the staunchest supporter America has in the battle against the Sovietization of the world.” But he also called on American Jews to engage in dialogues and debates on Middle East issues to “protect Israel from a psychology of militarization and press it to keep the door open to negotiation with Arabs and proper justice to legitimate Arab claims.

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