Orthodox Congregations Urged to Allocate 25 Percent of Budgets for Jewish Education, Call Year’s Mor

A special conference of the Rabbinical Council of America today unanimously adopted a resolution calling upon Orthodox synagogues throughout the US and Canada “to break away from the patterns of yesteryear in their approaches and in their budgeting” and to allocate 25 percent of their budgets for Jewish education.

Introducing the resolution to the 300 rabbis and educators attending the two-day conference at the Brunswick Hotel here, Rabbi Louis Bernstein, first vice-president of the RCA, called on the American Jewish community to declare a year’s moratorium on capital expenditure for new projects and, instead, to channel their funds for Jewish education and Israel’s needs. He asked for equal priorities to Jewish education and Israel because both are “necessary for the survival of Judaism.”

Rabbi Bernstein said it is more important to “create a youth society free of the corroding influences which gnaw on the moral fiber of our nation” than to erect “magnificent and costly structures which but for three days a year stand but half empty.” He asserted that “huge deficits” are threatening to curtail the Jewish day school movement, and pointed out that the social revolution “has imposed upon the Jewish community an entirely new set of priorities and even 25 percent of the congregational budget may not be enough. Each congregation will have to decide realistically how much of its funds must go for these purposes on the basis of local responsibilities.”

Noting that changing urban neighborhoods have forced Jews and their institutions to move from one place to another, Rabbi Bernstein said “our day schools must consolidate wherever possible and the ideological nuances sublimated, for the welfare of a community faces such challenges as intermarriage internally and Mayor (John V.) Lindsay externally.” This was a reference to the Lindsay administration’s determination to build a low-income public housing project in the predominantly middle-class Jewish section of Forest Hills, Queens, despite the vehement opposition of some of the area’s residents.

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