Free Tuition for Jewish Children Proposed to End ‘spiritual Decline’

A life-long Zionist activist, Dr. Mordecai Hacohen, now first vice president of Bank Leumi Trust Company of New York, urged a Hadassah audience to “demand” that every American Jewish child in America be assured of a Jewish education, “even free of charge, whenever necessary.”

Hacohen issued his appeal at brunch here Sunday of the Lower New York State Hadassah region, at which he received the regional Haddassah’s Myrtle Wreath award conferred on “outstanding local, state or national and international personalities” for “distinguished contributions” in many fields of public life.

Asserting that “spiritual decline” was the greatest threat to survival of American Jewry, Hacohen cited data indicating that out of a total of two million Jewish children worldwide between five and 18 years old more than one million grow up in the Diaspora “without knowing the shape of the letter Aleph.”

In the United States, he told the Hadassah women, out of a total of 800,000 Jewish children of school age, about 100,000 children received — “more or less” a thorough Jewish education, “while some 250,000 children receive only an elementary Jewish education.”

In sum, he declared, 500,000 Jewish children in the United States “grow up without any Jewish education whatever, not even Sunday school.”

Addition to “these grim statistics” of the adverse effects of “assimilation, in all its ugly forms, the sneaky, devious missionary activities, intermarriage and the influence of various cults” makes the situation “even gloomier,” he declared.

PRIORITY FOR EDUCATION URGED

He warned that one did not need to be an expert on demographics to understand that “this situation if allowed to continue unchecked, will result in no time, in the total estrangement of our youth and in a vanishing Jewish community in America and in the diaspora.”

He said he wanted “most respectfully to suggest” to his listeners that they help “build Jewish day schools in your community and throughout the land. The time has come to demand from your local and national Jewish Federations to regard Jewish education as the top priority for their allocations of your contributions.”

He declared that the Hadassah members should “demand that every Jewish child in America, rich or poor, has an inalienable right to receive a Jewish education, even free of charge, whenever necessary, and it is our duty to provide it.”

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