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Role of Jewish Education Assessed

A sober and critical picture of American Jewish education emerged today at the National Conference on Alternative Education sponsored here by the North American Jewish Student Network. It is the first conference on Jewish education planned primarily by and for teachers, according to Network.

Discussing the “buying and selling of Jewish education,” Isaac Toubin, executive vice-president of the American Association for Jewish Education, argued that Jewish education must be an end in itself and not a tool to preserve congregational life. Pointing to a drastic decline in enrollment in Jewish schools, he stressed the need for long-range community planning in education.

Toubin charged that education is not considered a financial priority in the Jewish community. When asked “Who is the enemy, professionals or students and educators, spent much of the day in “modules” designed to provide an intense experience in an area of educational thought and practice.

Cheri Koller Fox a doctoral candidate in education at Harvard University, led an “open classroom” module in which a lounge on the Brown University campus, where the conference is taking place, was converted into a classroom. Educators and students then simulated a day in school for children in that environment, to explore problems and teaching techniques.

“I am thrilled that so many young people are enthused and concerned about the quality of Jewish education,” said Mrs. Marcia Gross, from Silver Springs. Md., where she has taught in the Chaim Weizmann Yiddish Folk School for the past 10 years. “You usually think that you are alone in your concern and it is refreshing to see new people carrying on.” The conference, which ends tomorrow, is geared towards students and young adults who are Hebrew or Sunday school teachers, youth group leaders, camp counselors and all those concerned with the issues, problems and techniques of Jewish education.

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