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Israeli Youth Becoming Americanized with Concern for Marijuana, Long Hair

September 7, 1971
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Israel’s young generation is becoming acculturated to “Americanism” with its concern for “pop songs, long hair and marijuana,” according to the Israeli Vice Consul in Philadelphia, Zvi Gabay, who just returned from leave in Israel following a three-year tour of duty abroad. Gabay spoke disapprovingly yesterday about the cultural situation in Israel at a World Union of Jewish Students’ workshop session here dealing with “Jews in Islamic Societies.” The workshop was part of the program of the first international Jewish student seminar ever held in America. Some 280 students from around the world are attending the fire-day conference which began Thursday and ends tonight. It was organized by WUJS, a federation of Jewish student organizations in more than 30 countries. The more than two dozen workshop participants discussed the conflict in Israel between the Ashkenazic culture of the European Jews, and the Sephardic culture of the Middle Eastern and Oriental Jews. Gabay said that Israeli youth are adopting the culture of American youth, not Ashkenazic or Sephardic culture. But when someone suggested that this development would be “the death of Israel,” 21-year-old Yaffa Goldstein of Bnei Brak, a Bar Ilan University student said reassuringly, “It will pass” and noted that pop culture is a universal phenomenon. Several participants, particularly Israeli and Americans, talked about the merits of striving for a melting pot culture as opposed to allowing different groups in Israel to assert their distinct cultural identities.

It was pointed out that Israeli education stresses European Jewish history but only minimally delves into the history of Jews in the Orient and Middle Eastern countries. Miss Goldstein said schools should provide a homogeneous education which would cover both cultures. But another Bar Ilan student, Shimon Ochayon, 25, of Beersheba, who came to Israel from Morocco at the age of nine, insisted that any combination of the two traditions be “representative” of each and not a “compromise.” Ochayon criticized the attempt by Tel Aviv’s Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren, former chief chaplain of Israel’s armed forces, to synthesize the two cultures’ religious traditions in the Army prayer book. He said the siddur is a synthesis of the nusach Ashkenazi and the nusach Sephardi, both of which actually are European traditions and does not really include the minhag Sephardi which reflects Oriental Sephardic traditions.

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