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Rabbi Urges Jewish Organizations to Pay More Attention to Education

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Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg, president of the American Jewish Congress, said yesterday that “the great enterprise of Jewish life in the 1970’s must be to transform our organizations so that they are consciously designed to increase Jewish knowledge and commitment.” In an address to the 44th annual convention of the National Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs, attended by 1000 delegates, he warned that Jewish communal institutions were “failing to meet their primary responsibility of providing American Jews with a basic Jewish education and a deep sense of rootedness in the Jewish group.”

The American Jewish community is “increasingly becoming a kind of accidental association of Jews who come together to deal with general problems,” Rabbi Hertzberg noted. “But if Jews are to survive as a people the content of Jewish life must be filled with something more than building hospitals, founding universities and performing social services to the community.”

In another session. Rabbi Joel S. Geffen, director of the department of field activities and community education of the Jewish Theological Seminary, was less pessimistic about Jewish life. He noted that in “our anxiety and concern over intermarriage, missionary activities directed against Jews, and other anti-religious manifestations among our youth, we sometimes fail to recognize the steady growth our religious institutions are making.”

Rabbi Geffen pointed out that the number of Solomon Schechter Day Schools in the Conservative movement has grown from 19 schools with an enrollment of 3500 students in 1965-66 to 44 schools with 7000 students in 1972-73. He also said that there are now 350 academic positions in Jewish studies at secular universities in the U.S. and Canada while there were only two such positions in the entire country in the 1930’s.

Rabbi Geffen concluded, however, that despite these developments “there is still much to be done to improve and strengthen Jewish education in the United States. The opportunity to build a strong Jewish community on this continent is here. To achieve this goal we must capitalize on our growing sense of Jewish identity by fostering more avenues of Jewish education in the home, synagogue and community.”

The State Department said today that it would “look-into” press reports that Soviet-made Egyptian tanks have been seen in Saudi Arabia. According to the reports the tanks may be destined for the Yemen Arab Republic. It would be the first time that Soviet-made weapons of any type have been seen in Saudi Arabia. Other press reports said today that Soviet SAM-2 anti-aircraft missiles have been sent to Libya from Egypt.

Ambassador Gunnar V. Jarring completed his report on the Middle East and returned to Moscow Friday, a UN spokesman said today. His report is part of a comprehensive Mideast study that Secretary General Kurt Waldheim was asked to submit to the Security Council in time for the debate on the Mideast now unofficially scheduled May 29.

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