Jewish Religious Education Will Become Optional in Chilean Schools

Jewish religious education will become optional for Chilean primary and secondary school pupils, according to a new law enacted here, the Latin American branch of the World Jewish Congress reported.

Parents will be entitled to demand that the school administration make provisions for the establishment of Jewish religious classes under Decree No. 78 just published in the Diario Oficial (Official Gazette) of the Chilean Republic, the WJC said.

The measure is entitled “Program for Jewish Religion in Primary and Secondary Education.” It was signed by the President of the Republic, Augusto Pinochet, and the Minister of Education. There are about 20,000 Jews in Chile.

The law specified that the program seeks “to apply the concepts of Jewish ethics, morality and philosophy in daily life, teaching how to love and respect one’s neighbor like oneself, learning self-contentment and self-enhancement, and praying with devotion and concentration.” Specific teachings are aimed at knowledge of the basic symbols of the Jewish holidays, certain prayers, liturgical chants and Bible stories.

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