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United Synagogue Leader Calls for United Jewish Education Appeal

Rabbi Benjamin Kreitman, executive vice president of the United Synagogue of America, has called upon the Conservative Movement to institute a United Jewish Education Appeal of Conservative synagogues parallel to, but not in competition with, the United Jewish Appeal that would guarantee regular Jewish education for every Jewish child.

“This massive fund raising campaign would enable every Jewish child to be involved in a day school, or if one was not available, in an afternoon school,” declared Kreitman in a major address before the United Synagogue of America biennial convention which opened today and ends Thursday. Dramatizing the threat to Jewish survival, Kreitman said, “It is as if a squadron of F-15s were poised to strike at the heart of American Jewry.”

Speaking before 2,500 delegates at the Concord Hotel here, Kreitman asserted that the “choice before every Jew is whether to be a Jew or to join the faceless undifferentiated mass in our open secular society. Only through complete Jewish education, whether in the classroom or informally as in a United Synagogue youth group, can American Jewry have hope for its future. The United Jewish Education Appeal would be used to give the opportunity for this Jewish education.”

OUTLINES A FIRST STEP

As a first step to bringing about this kind of educational opportunity, the United Synagogue, the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, and the National Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs have joined forces to develop a program for college students called the Center for Conservative Jewry on Campus. “Previously,” Kreitman said, “our efforts in this direction have been haphazard — though even these efforts met with some success. We must make a Conservative Jewish presence felt on campus for these are crucial years in the lives of our Jewish youth.”

The conditions that prevail today, Kreitman said, are vastly different than they have ever been in our history and as such, we must change our strategies accordingly. “If we are to continue to live as a viable community in our open, democratic, secular society, we can only do so through the synagogue,” Kreitman declared. “To reclaim the place that the synagogue once held, the synagogue must have the personnel to conduct these vital programs. I call upon our lay leaders to make possible the recruitment of personnel by making such careers among the most prestigious and important in the Jewish community.”

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