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Memorial Foundation Launches Project to Reinforce Jewish Identity in Dispersed Area

A pilot project designed to reinforce Jewish identity in dispersed Jewish communities of Scandinavia and France was announced here by the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture.

According to Philip Klutznick, Foundation president, the program will be targeted for persons 25 to 45 years of age since they are the “least involved in Jewish communal life in Scandinavia and France, yet they possess considerable potential for the future of Jewish life there.”

The project was announced at the beginning of the meeting of the Foundation’s Executive Committee, which is taking place today and tomorrow at the Rye Town Hilton, by Fritz Hollander of Stockholm, co-chairman of the Commission on Dispersed Jewish Communities.

The goal of the project, Klutznick said, “is to create a continuing group dynamic and interchange that will help the participants deepen their knowledge, understanding and commitment to the Jewish community so that, ultimately, they can be integrated into the existing Jewish community and assume leadership roles.”

The project will take the form of a series of video films that will focus on “The Jew and His World ” from the perspective of Jewish life in dispersed communities.

The Memorial Foundation will initiate the project with a pilot video film on “The Jew and the Family.”

Dr. Jerry Hochbaum, executive director of the Memorial Foundation, said, “to sustain these dispersed Jewish communities, the vital need is for adequately trained and deeply motivated personnel. Here the Foundation has already achieved notable success.

“In Oslo and Helsinki, rabbis, trained in Israel with Foundation help, have in a short time revived and transformed both the religious and general Jewish life. Oslo had not had a full-time rabbi in almost 20 years. Israel-trained Rabbi Michael Melchior came and opened the first Jewish kindergarten in Oslo since the Holocaust, revitalized the afternoon Hebrew school and reactivated the Jewish youth groups.

“In Helsinki, Rabbi Ove Schwarz has reorganized the all-day elementary Jewish school, in which close to 85 percent of all Jewish youth in the community are enrolled. Rabbi Schwarz served not only as Helsinki’s Jewish spiritual leader but also as its shohet, mohel, Jewish educator and youth worker.”

OTHER TWO NEW DIRECTIONS

Service to dispersed Jewish communities is one of the three new directions the Foundation is taking, Klutznick announced. The other two new directions are in the area of informal Jewish education and the stabilization of the Jewish family.

In the area of informal Jewish education, the Nahum Goldmann Fellowship will provide an intensive experience in Jewish learning and living at a three-week summer institute in Europe for the cultural advancement and leadership development of a carefully selected group of outstanding young Jewish men and women in Europe. Goldmann was a founder and president of the Foundation.

In its third new direction, the Foundation announced that it will develop a pilot program to reach “unaffiliated American Jewish families” through Jewish family life education. The Foundation will seek to implement a set of programmatic recommendations developed by Professor Samuel Heilman of Queens College, utilizing appropriate “marketing” techniques to penetrate these types of Jewish homes.

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