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World Council on Jewish Education Established at Geneva Parley

August 4, 1964
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A 50-member World Council on Jewish Education was formally established at a world conference on Jewish education here today to deal on a global scale with the “critical shortages” in Jewish education.

The formal action was taken after a sharp and lengthy debate over the site for the Council’s headquarters was resolved by a compromise decision providing for interim offices in New York for administration and financing and in Jerusalem for educational research. The principal headquarters will be determined at a meeting next year at which time the Council will elect its officers.

The Council will operate as a coordinating research body to maintain closer educational contacts among Jewish communities throughout the world, assist them in improving their educational facilities and help establish those facilities in countries where they do not exist. It will concentrate on ways of overcoming the lack of qualified teachers–a shortage regarded as the central problem in Jewish education — and on providing adequate textbooks and other pedagogic materials.

The nature of the problem was pointed up in studies reported here which indicate that only 40 per cent of Jewish youth in countries outside of Israel are now attending some form of organized Jewish education. This, in the main, was not attributed to disinterest by or assimilationist trends among Jewish youth but to a teacher and classroom shortage that has worsened in recent years with a rise of the Jewish youth population.


The Council itself will be divided into five geographical regions “responsive to educational callings” in their respective areas. The American Jewish community with 12 delegates will have the largest representation on the Council. Israel will have eight, Europe six (two of whom will be from Great Britain), Latin America five and “other countries” four. The latter subdivision includes one representative each from Canada, South Africa, Australia and Iran.

Fifteen members at large will be elected by the Council’s executive committee. This will enable the Council to coopt educational specialists and to correct any ideological or geographic imbalances in the makeup of the Council.

It is expected that the Council will establish a World Bureau of Jewish Education to conduct its research activities and to serve as an informational clearing house on educational materials. The Council will operate in five major areas: educational personnel, educational material, youth and adult education, day schools and other forms of “intensive education” and research and publications. The non-ideological character of the Council was stressed at the conference by Dr. Nahum Goldmann.

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