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Jewish Youth Not Alienated, but Neglected, Jewish Women’s Conclave Told

Judaism does not have instant answers to all America’s social and ethical problems but it could make an importance contribution to American life if its values and traditions were imparted to Jewish youth, according to Rabbi Irving Greenberg, professor of history at Yeshiva University. Dr. Greenberg was one of several rabbis and scholars who addressed a three-day conference on contemporary problems of Jewish youth, their religious and cultural education, sponsored by the National Council of Jewish Women at Ellenville, New York. The Conference, which ended Thursday, also heard from three graduate students who indicted the synagogue and national Jewish organizations for being “lethargic, inadequate and unresponsive to the needs of youth.” Their complaint was echoed by Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg, a lecturer in Jewish history at Columbia and Princeton universities, who told the 150 Council members that “Jewish youth is not alienated–it has been neglected by the adult Jewish community.”

SYNAGOGUE ACCUSED BY RABBI OF EXCESSIVE CONCERN FOR BUDGETS

Dr. Hertzberg scored synagogues for being “more concerned with budgets and membership than transmitting the ethics and values that have caused Judaism to endure.” Rabbi Greenberg asserted that synagogues, Jewish organizations and American Jews as individuals have failed to relate Judaism to contemporary life. He characterized Jewish life in this country as “thin and impoverished culturally and in terms of living human experience.” Another speaker, Isaac Toubin, executive vice president of the American Association for Jewish Education, said that “one of the healthy by-products of the black push for recognition in education is the new awareness that American culture is a linkage and cross-fertilization of the histories and ideals of many peoples.” This concept has profound implications for Jewish education, he said.

Prof. Marshall Sklare, of Brandeis University, said that Jewish families attempting to impart “Jewishness” to their young are confronted with a “much more pervasive and distinctive youth culture and faces competition from the youngster’s peer group.” Added to this problem, he said, is the fact that “today’s parents have less Jewish culture to transmit than prior generations.” Jewish communities will have to supplement the parents’ efforts to instill Jewish identity in the young, he said, adding, however, “It is no easier to replace the Jewish mother than it is to find a substitute for the Negro father.” Miss Hannah Stein, executive director of the National Council of Jewish Women announced that similar conferences aimed at the problems of the American Jewish community would be held soon in Chicago and Los Angeles.

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