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Educator Warned Against Producing a Generation of “jewish Beatniks”

August 10, 1959
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The American Jewish educational system runs the risk of producing a generation of “Jewish beatniks” unless it can give young Jews “straightforward, realistic and constructive” answers to their questions, Dr. Ira Eisenstein, former president of the Rabbinical Assembly of America, and one of the leaders of the Reconstructionist movement, warned today.

Rabbi Einstein was addressing more than 100 teen-age regional officers of the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization who are attending a 23-day Leadership Training Institute at Camp B’nai B’rith, here. The young delegates participating in the Institute were specially selected for leadership potential. They were granted scholarships from the national B’nai B’rith Youth Organization and their local B’nai B’rith adult communities.

“Jewish youth no longer wants to run away from the Jewish heritage, they want to adopt it,” Rabbi Eisenstein said. “But they recognize that they cannot live with it as it has been handed down to them. Unfortunately, they have, by and large, found few teachers prepared to adapt it to their needs and to the times in which we live.” He added that Jewish young people–particularly those in leadership positions in Jewish youth organizations–are in desperate need of a “modern guide to the perplexed.”

“The challenge presented by this generation cannot for long be ignored,” he warned. “The age that produced beatniks should look well to the meaning of those confused and desperate characters. If we are not to have a crop of Jewish beatniks the Jewish community had better bestir itself and give answers that are straightforward, realistic and constructive. Youth is willing now to be educated but will our adult leadership meet this challenge?”

The BBYO Institute program includes a series of lectures and discussions on Judaism, the philosophy of leadership and a variety of sessions designed to teach folk and Israeli singing and dancing. The Institute, which will run through August 18, will be followed by the international conventions of Aleph Zadik Aleph, boys’ division of the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization, and B’nai B’rith Girls, teen-age girls counterpart of the organization.

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