Scholars Agree Colleagues Do Not Have Adequate Role in Organized Jewish Life
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Scholars Agree Colleagues Do Not Have Adequate Role in Organized Jewish Life

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A scholar asserted at a symposium of academics here that the Jewish community has yet to learn how “to use” the services of Jewish academicians and that “there seems to be no room in the contemporary Jewish community for the kind of contribution that comes from the heart” rather than from the purse.

Participants in the sympasium were 20 alumni of summer study programs in Israel sponsored jointly by B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundations and the United Jewish Appeal. B’nai B’rith estimated that the number of American Jewish college professors now tops 50,000.

The 20 academics agreed that their colleagues must become more committed to and involved with the organized Jewish community. They also agreed that in the great majority of American cities, communal participation by campus academicians has not had a major impact.

Dr. David Altshuler, director of the Judaic studies program at George Washington University, and Dr. Hillel Levine, associate director of the federal government’s Holocaust Memorial Council, led the discussion.


Altshuler said that the Jewish community has traditionally been “an oligarchy of do-ers and givers” and that neither role interests academicians. Citing the structure of the UJA as a prime example, Levine asked: “Why are academics organized separately from the ‘sword bearers?'” He said the contribution of Jewish intellectuals “has to go to the center of Jewish life.”

In calling for the academicians to become active in the general community and for the community to welcome the academicians in whatever role they seek, Levine declared that “one must be a good citizen to fulfill one’s Jewish obligations.”

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