Hebrew Day Schools Praised As Best Way to Develop Jewish Leadership

Declaring that American education has failed to bring about “any significant changes” in the social order, Dr. Seymour P. Lachman, chairman of the Jewish Studies Committee for Secondary Schools of the American Association of Jewish Education, called today for a “basic reinterpretation of the value and importance of public education in enhancing rather than extinguishing a multi-cultural democratic experience.” Dr. Lachman, who is also a member of the New York City Board of Education, praised the Hebrew Day Schools as “the best available means by which to develop a permanent leadership cadre that is steeped in Jewish learning and knowledge.” Only in “such a total environment,” he told the 100 delegates to a study conference sponsored by the Synagogue Council of America, “can we most adequately and intelligently develop our own unique Judaic message with the broadest application to all human concerns.” He added that “What our troubled times might just need is the particular message of a Jewish education, with universal significance.”

Referring to the role of public education, Dr. Lachman said there must be “an encouragement of authentic group identification if the diversity of our American democratic society is to be continued.” The phenomenon of cultural pluralism will have to be more readily understood and incorporated within the curriculum, he observed. “The new pluralism might also emphasize a strengthening of religious pluralism.” Dr. Lachman noted. He endorsed the so-called dual enrollment, or shared-time, plan, under which a child takes his religious classes in a religious school and his secular subjects in a public school. “The plan has the decided dual advantage of clearly not using public funds for direct religious instruction, and leaves the religious schools free of government control,” he said. Dr. Lachman also stated: “We, as Jews who value the tradition of education in all its aspects, must demand the support of education by all levels of government, especially the federal government.” But, he cautioned his audience, “the expenditure of increased sums does not guarantee the delivery of more and better service,” and thus “accountability and productivity must be considered to a greater extent than heretofore.”

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