Colpa, Agudath Israel Leaders Hail Nixon’s Pledge to Aid Private Schools

Leaders of two Jewish organizations today hailed President Nixon’s declaration last night at a dinner of the Knights of Columbus that he would help reverse the current closing of private and parochial schools. Julius Berman, president of the National Commission on Law and Public Affairs, stated that the organization welcomed the President’s “offer of help in efforts to reverse the continually worsening financial plight of parochial schools.” Rabbi Moshe Sherer, executive president of Agudath Israel of America, sent a telegram to Nixon stating: “Your forthright stand, coming in the wake of the tragic decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on this issue, may prove to be a historic turning point in the struggle to end discrimination from which the non-public schools have been suffering for so long.” On June 28 the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 that public aid to private schools for secular purposes constituted “excessive government entanglement with religion.” It declared unconstitutional programs that reimbursed private schools for instruction in secular subjects. Last night, Nixon told the Knights of Columbus audience that “you can count on my support” to halt the trend of the closing down of non-public schools.

Commenting on this statement, Berman declared that “while it is clear that the President was referring specifically to Catholic parochial schools in his address last night, it is clear that his reference should be understood to include all religiously-sponsored non-public schools.” He stressed the President’s statement that “we must see to it that our children are provided with the moral and spiritual and religious values so necessary to a great people in great times.” Berman added that “it is our hope that those organizations that have fought so successfully to deprive the non-public schools of governmental aid will realize the financial disaster that may result from these efforts and join hands with the President to save the non-public school system, including those established under Jewish auspices.” Rabbi Sherer, in his telegram to Nixon, stated that the Legislative Commission of Agudath Israel will present its findings to the President’s staff in the near future.

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