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Three Jewish Groups Testify on Code for New York Public Schools

September 19, 1956
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Three major Jewish groups testified here yesterday at public hearings at the Board of Education on a proposed Board statement regarding “The Development of Moral and Spiritual Ideals in Public Schools,” indicating various degrees of opposition. However, two of the groups noted that they would approve the statement if certain deletions were made.

Complete opposition was expressed by Leo Pfeffer, testifying on behalf of the American Jewish Congress. He warned that the proposal “could well lead to the imposition of a religious test for public school teachers.” Mr. Pfeffer, author of several books on church-state problems, insisted that adoption of the statement on the teaching of religious values might “make inevitable the introduction of religion into every phase of school life.” The American Jewish Congress said that religious instruction should remain the responsibility of home, church and synagogue.

Rabbi S. Andhil Fineberg, representing the American Jewish Committee, criticized the statement for inconsistencies and urged the deletion of a number of passages which, he said, violate the right of religious dissent. However, he gave “qualified endorsement” to the statement which he found to be a “significant advance” on the original draft offered last Summer.

The New York Board of Rabbis, one of the leading groups in opposing the original statement, also found this statement an improvement. The Board represented by Rabbi Harold Gordon, said: “We believe if the statement is modified and if the program is carried out with nonsectarianism we would be glad to give it our approval.” He asked for six changes in the text.

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