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Dr. Silver Calis for Greater Balance in American Jewish Life; Wamts More Education

March 27, 1950
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Greater balance in American Jewish life with stronger emphasis on religious institutions of learning as compared with philanthropic organizations, was urged here by Dr. Abba Hillel Silver at Founder’s Day exercises at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

“The establishment of the state of Israel makes even more imperative the strengthening of our religious institutions–synagogues, schocls and academies in the Diaspora,” Dr. Silver stated. “The hope of national restoration which was a potent factor in Jewish survival through the ages must, in its realization, be compensated for by an intensification of the purely religicus and cultural values of Jewish life.

“American Jewish life lacks balance,” Dr. Silver continued. “It has overconcentrated on philanthropic institutions as against religious institutions, and on religious institutions as against religious schools and academies and the training of our youth in the lore and literature of their people. Indifference increases as you pass from the social agency to the synagogue to the school. In the long run this might prove disastrous to American Judaism.

“It is clear that a considerable part of the Jewish people–perhaps a majority–will continue to live outside of Israel in the indeterminate future,” he said. It is to the interest, not alone of Isrsol, which will have to draw replenishment from the reservoir for years to come, but of the Jewish people as such and of Judaism, the noblest creation of the Jewish people, and its supreme gift to mankind, that Diaspora Jewry should remain vital, vigorous and spiritually sound and wholzsome. Hehce, all talk, however nobly motivated, which derogates Diaspora Jewry or altogether writes it off, is harmful in the extreme. What our people possess of cultural treasures is not exclusively the creation of the Jews of Palestine. Even when there was a flourishing Jewish life in Palestins, thore were also flourishing Jewish communities in other countries.

“The establishment of the state of Israel has contributed to a large measure of dignity and confidence to Jewish life. Upon surer foundations the world Jewish community of tomorrow may be able to build a more affirmative religious life,” he said.

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