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Aaje Begins Course Outlines on U.S. Jewish Community for Use in Jewish Schools

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The American Association for Jewish Education has started preparation of course outlines for teaching about the American Jewish community in Jewish schools after sponsoring surveys which indicated that such courses were inadequately presented in the Jewish school curriculum. Mandell L. Berman, chairman of the AAJE governing council, said the outlines were being prepared by the agency’s national curriculum research institute. Mr. Berman, who also is chairman of the planning committee for Jewish education of the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds, cited two recent studies conducted by the AAJE on the Keren Ami, a Jewish communal fund collected In Jewish schools, and on the teaching of civics in such schools. He said the surveys also indicated that teachers in the schools were “poorly prepared” to teach such courses and that “few instructional materials are available to give young people a proper understanding of the condition of Jewish communal life in this country.”

Mr. Berman stated the AAJE program was being undertaken not only on its own initiative but also in response to requests from Jewish Federations which “correctly note the anomalous situation that allows Jewish students to be ignorant of the activities in which the adult community is engaged.” Dr. Toby Kurzband, who recently retired as a district superintendent of the New York City board of education, has been named an AAJE staff consultant to direct the project. He said a problem-oriented approach would be used in which courses will seek to meet directly such issues as whether Jewish communal funds should be used for non-sectarian welfare purposes and how active the Jewish community should be in inter-group relations. He said the courses would be aimed at demonstrating how the Jewish community functions, the kinds of institutions and organizations it has created the nature of its internal relationships and the relations between the Jewish and general communities.

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