Jewish Youth Who Recognize Heritage but Are Cynical Prime Challenge for Organized Jewry

Most of American Jewish youth recognize their heritage but are cynical about Jewish communal and institutional life, and are thus organized Jewry’s prime challenge, according to Rabbi Max D. Ticktin, director of the B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundation at the University of Chicago. Rabbi Ticktin speaking today at the 41st annual convention of the National Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs of the United Synagogue of America, said he was encouraged by these “concerned Jewish students,” who he said are militantly active in “raising the status, prestige and quality of Jewish educational and cultural life in the United States.” He stated “their energy and ability to diagnose the superficialities” of American Jewish life “make them a welcome challenge to the American Jewish community.” In addition to the militants there are three other subdivisions of Jewish youth, according to Rabbi Ticktin, those who deny religion on the ground that it does not offer immediate answers to social problems; those who turn to traditional rituals as antidotes to rootlessness; and those who embrace Zionism as a means to personal fulfillment and a bridging of personal and social aims. Understanding of youth, its hopes and aspirations, was, he said, the key to bridging the generation gap. He said the most powerful influence that can be brought to bear on wavering Jewish youth is the cultural, religious and social influences of its peer groups.

The convention adopted a resolution today calling on the United States Congress to “sponsor diplomatic representations with the Soviet government” with a view to guaranteeing the human rights of Russian Jews and allowing their emigration to any country of their choice. Another resolution urged the West German government to “exert moral pressure” on the villagers of Oberammergau to delete offensive anti-Semitic passages from the Passion Play. A resolution supporting Israel’s struggle for peace and security urged the U.S. to sell Israel the 125 combat jets it has requested. Other resolutions denounced France’s sale of Mirage jets to Libya and condemned Arab terrorism. A resolution on youth urged synagogue boards to give the “highest priority” to more open dialogue with youth and to name youth representatives to the boards.

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