Concern Expressed over Alienation of Young Intellectual Jews

The head of the largest Orthodox rabbinic body in the Western hemisphere expressed grave concern over the present generation of young intellectual Jews, including those of Orthodox persuasion who have isolated themselves from the mainstream of organized Jewish community life. Rabbi Fabian Schonfeld, president of the Rabbinical Council of America, made his remarks yesterday in an address to the Bicentennial Torah Convocation in the Beth Shalom Congregation. Some 500 Orthodox rabbis are attending the three-day convocation.

Rabbi Schonfeld called upon young Jewish intellectuals and particularly those of Orthodox orientation “to assume their rightful positions of leadership within the mainstream of Jewish community life. We need their incisive intellect and their youthful enthusiasm to revitalize organized Jewish community life throughout the country. Our generation has been blessed by an inordinately large number of richly endowed intellectuals who have so much to contribute to the quality and nature of Jewish life. We cannot afford the luxury of having such intellectually gifted young people uninvolved in the front ranks of Jewish life.”

Rabbi Schonfeld pointed out that the trend in the Jewish community today of the failure of young people to assume leadership roles in society is not limited to Orthodox Jewry or Jewry in general. “It has become apparent in the general community as well. The rebels of the 1960s have been replaced by the non-participants of the 1970s. Both were wrong. In the sixties our young people were denouncing our laws right and left. Now, in the seventies, the rebels of the sixties have been denied and betrayed.”

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