Upheavals Threaten L. American Jews

Continued inflation, economic uncertainties and renewed political upheavals In Latin American nations, posing problems for the general population, present special dangers to the future viability of the continent’s one million Jews, according to Dr. Gerhart Riegner of Geneva, Secretary General of the World Jewish Congress, who recently returned from meetings with Jewish leaders in South America. He reported to the group’s American section that “Jewish institutions are confronted with an atmosphere of drastic uncertainties which changes daily both economically and politically.” He emphasized that “anti-Semitism was not the cause.”

Dr. Riegner said that recently Jewish institutions Incurred additional financial burdens when they established increased day school systems. This resulted from changes in several national education laws where the secular school day was changed from a half day to a full day in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay.

Prior to that time, Jewish children attended a secular school for part of the day and religious instruction for the remaining period. The WJC official noted that the continued economic crisis of growing inflation, reduced earning power and Increased operating costs for the support of Latin American Jewish education “have placed a burden upon the community they cannot meet without outside support.”

BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE

Dr. Riegner said that large numbers of Jewish youths were “rejecting Jewish identity in favor of assimilation,” What happens, he asked, “in the future to Jewish youngsters growing up when they cannot receive an adequate Jewish education because there are insufficient schools and teachers?” If we lose the Jewish youth, the hope for the future appears dismal indeed.

To meet the challenge. Dr. Riegner announced that the World Jewish Congress has accomplished the unification of Jewish institutions Into the Latin American Jewish Conference, a united cooperative body to “act jointly and pool resources.” He said that the recent meeting in Lima, Peru, produced an unprecedented attendance of 500 delegates who came because the dangers and tension are so imminent. The spirit of togetherness produced encouragement for the future, he observed.

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