B’nai B’rith Urges Steps to Deal with Jewish Poor, Drug Addiction Among Jewish Youth

The B’nai B’rith voted today to convene a national conference of Jewish organizations to deal with the problems of Jewish poor, drug addiction among Jewish youth and the breakdown of Jewish family life in America. The vote followed a report on the condition of the Jewish family by Rabbi Isaac Trainin, director of the commission on synagogue relations of New York’s Federation of Jewish Philanthropies and a consultant to the 500,000-member B’nai B’rith. Rabbi Trainin addressed 1,200 delegates attending a five-day gathering here to mark the 128th anniversary of the national Jewish service organization. He predicted that the American Jewish community was likely to lose more members through inter-marriage and assimilation than already have been lost through pogroms and the Nazi holocaust.

The B’nai B’rith’s Committee on Jewish Family observed in another report that “25 years ago statistics showed less divorce and inter-marriage among Jews than among non-Jews, but not so today. Jews are the greatest conformers. They reflect the majority behavior patterns and are rapidly catching up on divorce rates, alchoholism and other social ills.” Recommending a nation-wide meeting to concider ways of preserving the Jewish family, the committee said the entire Jewish community should be alerted to the threat to Jewish survival represented by what it called “the dissolution” of Jewish family life. Drug addiction among Jewish youth and almost one million elderly Jews living in poverty and fear in urban slums were cited as problems demanding immediate attention on a national scale by the American Jewish community.

Mrs. Lily Edelman, the B’nai B’rith’s national program director, said planning will begin immediately to arrange a national Jewish family conference next spring. In his report on drug addiction, Rabbi Trainin said that currently most community action on drug addiction is little more than public forums for speakers who describe the extent of the drug problem and answer questions. “Despite concern indicated by large audiences at these meetings and the intensity of the questions, there is no effective follow-up.” The B’nai B’rith convention committee report also warned against the wide-spread use of former drug addicts as speakers and resources people in community drug prevention programs. “Often former addicts unwittingly become here figures for young people and unconsciously suggest that the drug experience is exciting and thrilling,” the report said.

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