NEW YORK (Apr. 4)
Dr. Mordecai Hacohen, a political economist and first vice president of Bank Leumi Trust Company of New York, called upon Jewish Federations to shift their priorities to Jewish education and said that “every Jew in America” should demand that “every Jewish child” in this country, “rich or poor, has an inalienable right to receive a Jewish education, free of charge whenever necessary.”
Hacohen, who addressed an overflow audience at the Century Ballroom in Riverdale, where he was honored by the Kinneret Day School of the Labor Zionist movement for his fervent commitment to Jewish education, said that the American Jewish community is facing spiritual challenges.
“I believe that the spiritual decline at present is a much greater threat to our survival than any other problem that we may face,” he said. “Let the facts speak for themselves. Out of a total of 850,000 Jewish children of school age in the United States, some 100,000 receive more or less a thorough Jewish education while some 250,000 Jewish children receive only an elementary Jewish education, including Sunday school.”
WARNS OF A GLOOMIER SITUATION
Thus, Hacohen added, half a million Jewish children grow up at present without any Jewish education whatsoever. “If you add to these grim statistics the adverse affects of assimilation in all its ugly forms, the sneaky devious missionary activities, intermarriage and the influence of various cults, this situation becomes even gloomier.”
“If this situation is allowed to continue unchecked, it will result in no time in the total estrangement of our youth and in a vanishing Jewish community in America and in the diaspora,” Hacohen warned. “The consequences are obvious.”
He urged that the Jewish community in America “follow the example of the Kinneret Day School and help build Jewish day schools throughout the land. The time has come to demand from your local and national Jewish Federations to shift their priorities and to regard Jewish education as a top priority for their allocations of your contributions.”
Along with Hacohen, Mayor Edward Koch and attorney Norman Liss were also honored by the Kinneret Day School for their services to the Jewish people. Liss is active in the United Jewish Appeal, the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith and the State of Israel Bonds.