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Student Rabbis to Live, Work in Slum Areas; Only Program of Kind Under Jewish Auspices

Five Reform student rabbis will live and work in the slums of urban centers in the fourth year of the Rabbinic Interneship in Urban Affairs program, Rabbi Balfour Brickner reported today. The project, the only one of its kind under Jewish auspices, is a program of the commission on interfaith activities of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the Central Conference of American Rabbis and the Jewish Chautauqua Society. Rabbi Brickner is commission director. The student rabbis and the cities in whose ghettoes they will live and work for about 10 weeks, starting next month, are: Nicholas Behrmann of Philadelphia, in Boston; George Stern of Philadelphia. In Philadelphia; Ronald Shapiro of Minneapolis, in Milwaukee; Ralph Mechlenberger of Forest Park, 111., in Chicago, and Steven Malinger of New York In Washington, D.C. All are students of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish institute of Religion, the Reform seminary. The internships are sponsored locally by Jewish community relations agencies. Each intern agrees to live in a slum area, working with Protestant and Catholic urban clergymen to study directly the problems of the urban poor, to provide help in anti-poverty programs, to study the response of public and private agencies to ghetto needs and to study attitudes of the local Jewish community relative to the urban crisis.

The intern also is expected to make proposals on action programs the Jewish community might undertake for the urban poor. Each intern prepares a weekly report for the local sponsoring agency, to the commission and to the seminary. For the second year, a training program was held, on June 5, at the HUC in Cincinnati, for the interns. Members of the New York Metropolitan Regional Area Council, Rabbi Brickner, and Mrs. Anita Miller, Rabbi Brickner’s assistant, led the all-day session dealing with Jewish communal attitudes on racial issues, possibilities for black-white cooperation, attitudes in the black communities, and priorities among the blacks for the 1970s. The orientation program was held for the first time last year for the 11 1969 rabbinic internees. As an adjunct to the 1970 program, James Michaels, of St. Paul, Minn., also a HUC student, will serve at Mount Zion Temple in St. Paul, as a year-round intern, Rabbi Brickner said, adding that his assignment will extend beyond the regular student internship program. Lewls Bornstein, another student of Paterson, N.J., and his wife are staffing an Urban Mitzvah Corps project under the sponsorship of the New Jersey Council of Reform Synagogues.

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