Need and Demands of Jewish Youth Seen As a Top Priority Issue

Three leaders of major Jewish organizations agreed yesterday that the needs and demands of Jewish youth must be the top priority of all Jewish communal agencies. In other areas the panelists, addressing the 73rd annual convention of the Rabbinical Assembly, differed on a number of issues.

Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg, president of the American Jewish Congress; Rabbi Benjamin Kahn executive vice-president of B’nai B’rith; and Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum, national director of Inter-religious Affairs of the American Jewish Committee discussed Key 73, the merit system versus affirmative action, the plight of Soviet Jewry, and other issues confronting the Jewish community.

According to Rabbi Ira Eisenstein, president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, who presided at the session, “the sometimes heated exchange of views achieved a broad consensus that those communal agencies originally established to combat anti-Semitism need to be restructured.”

Citing the quest of Jewish youth for meaningful Jewish values, Rabbi Tanenbaum characterized the youth as vulnerable to the evangelism of Key 73. “Every defection of a Jewish young person is an argument for the need of Jewish institutions to be far more responsive to the challenge of religious illiteracy,” he observed. “Paradoxically, the proselytizing pressures of missions to the Jews are eliciting a creative and positive response on the part of Jewish religious and civic agencies.”

Affirming this position, Rabbi Hertzberg said, “All Jewish organizations must make increasing the Jewish values and loyalty of their members their dominant concern. An agency which does not re-fashion itself in this way is no longer contemporary.” In the same vein, Rabbi Kahn challenged his colleagues to “pool their resources to meet the growing demands of young people for personal meaning, Jewish knowledge and religious experimentation.”

At the closing banquet, Saul M. Linowitz, chairman of the national urban coalition called upon the rabbis to lead their congregants in a “massive new effort for social justice and liberty in America.” The battle for the future, he continued, “must be fought and won in the dark ghettos of our minds as well as in our cities.”

Maj. Gen. Mordechai Hod, commander of Israel’s Air Force for the last seven years, retired yesterday. He is succeeded by Maj. Gen. Benjamin Peled. Defense Minister Moshe Dayan hailed Hod as the man who played a decisive role in the deployment of the Air Force, preparing it to defend Israel and for achieving the spectacular victory in the opening hour of the Six-Day War. During Hod’s tenure the Air Force destroyed 623 enemy planes, most of them in the early morning of June 5, 1967 when Israeli fighter-bombers, in surprise attacks, obliterated Egyptian fighter planes on the ground. Peled joined the Air Force as a ground crew technician during the War of Independence and until recently headed the Air Force’s operations division.

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