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U.S. Jewish Communities Urged to Give More Attention to Education

August 14, 1962
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Jewish communities in the United States were urged today “to give as much emphasis” to Jewish education as they give to philanthropy, social service and community relations.

This request was voiced by American Jewish educators speaking at the First World Conference on Jewish Education which opened here last night with more than 500 delegates — educators and laymen — from 28 countries participating. The conference was opened last night with lengthy addresses by Dr. Nahum Goldmann, and Label Katz, co-chairmen of the World Conference of Jewish Organizations which is sponsoring the education parley.

Julius Fliegelman, of Los Angeles, chairman of the American delegation, urged at today’s session the establishment of “an international monetary fund for the financing of Jewish education in underprivileged communities.” He also advanced the idea of “establishing a common market for the free exchange of experiences in the field of Jewish education.” The raising of the status of Jewish teachers was also urged by speakers at today’s session.


Dr. Goldmann, in his opening address last night of the six-day education conference, warned that “a lack of incentives and motivations about why one should remain Jewish” could create a process of disintegration within the present generation of youth outside Israel. He stressed that the only effective counteraction “is a real system of Jewish education culminating in Jewish day schools.”

The world Jewish leader challenged the “mental attitude” of “many good Jews” who fear that popularizing of Jewish day schools may be interpreted as an attempt at “ghettoization” or conflicting with emancipation and equality of rights. Such a view, he said, is “based on a completely erroneous concept of democracy and equality. “

Mr. Katz, while not sharing Dr. Goldmann’s fear of disintegration of Jewish life in countries outside of Israel, said that life in countries outside of Israel can be meaningful and substantive in Jewish terms, only when the keystone to it is Jewish education. “There are no shortcuts,” he declared.

The B’nai B’rith president urged the establishment of a “worldwide Jewish education body” to provide “some functional unity to scattered and fragmentary efforts” at Jewish education in the Diaspora. Such a world council, he said, could operate as a specialized center of information and research on an international scale while also stimulating joint efforts for teacher training and organizing assistance for smaller Jewish communities.

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