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Rabbis Disagree on Need, Feasibility of Religious Teachings in Schools

October 29, 1962
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

An appeal to public school educators to “allow children to learn about religion and the religious movements of our forefathers, and to understand and appreciate the divergent religious traditions of the people in America’s pluralistic society,” was made here tonight by Rabbi Arthur Gilbert, staff consultant of the National Conference of Christians and Jews.

Addressing a debate on the subject of prayer in the public schools, sponsored by the Jewish Reconstructionist Foundation, Rabbi Gilbert urged the Jewish community to “provide more constructive and affirmative response to the question of God in public life” and to utilize the courts only as a “last resort” in “defending their rights in a pluralistic society.”

Dr. Ira Eisenstein, president of the Foundation, took issue with Rabbi Gilbert with regard to the teaching about religion in public schools. “In light of the present type of training given to most public school teachers,” he declared, “it is questionable whether an adequate conception of contemporary faiths could be transmitted to the children.” He urged the adoption of a program calling for the observance of American festivals “in the spirit of piety.”

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