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Optimistic View of Cultural Future of U.S. Jewry Presented at Parley

June 6, 1962
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An optimistic view of the “cultural future of American Judaism” was presented here last night by a prominent Jewish educator who described the American Jewish community as highly integrated into American cultural patterns and “in a state of spiritual and cultural ferment.”

Dr. Oscar Janowsky, former director of graduate studies at the City College of New York, told 2,000 delegates at the 110th annual convention of District 1 of B’nai B’rith that American Jewry “is a homogeneous community” which had “the means and the leisure to cultivate culture.”

“There is a cultural future for American Judaism. The men and the women who are reshaping the present will build the future and a Jewish cultural center will blossom in America,” Dr. Janowsky declared. The present generation of Jews, he noted, “feels at home in this country as no Jewry in recent centuries outside of Israel has felt.” When American Jews show an interest in Jewish affairs, he said, “this is not a recoil from massive anti-Semitis but the expression of group loyalty.” He assured the audience that American Jewry is not disintegrating.”

He said it was a “hopeful sign” that American Jews undertake philanthropic or other projects “from a sense of belonging.” In their religious life, he noted, “the flight from the synagogue has ceased” and the new generation has created the synagogue center as the focal point for much of its life. Parents who, a generation ago, received a sketchy Jewish education are now enrolling their children into a school “as a result of personal evaluation and appreciation of the need,” he pointed out.

Rabbi Benjamin M. Kahn, national director of the B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundation, cited the great stress upon education among American Jews. He said that two out of every three Jewish high school students matriculate at a university as against the national average of one out of three. He declared that the “depersonalization” of faculty student relations resulting from the continued growth of college enrollments creates “moral and spiritual problems that can be met only by the religious foundations on the campus.”

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