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September 07, 1962 - Image 24

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1962-09-07

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS — Friday, September 7, 1962 — 24

Church-State Separation Debate Rages

Freedom of Religion or Freedom
from Religion Is Question Raised

American Orthodox Jewish lead-
ers are "increasingly con-
cerned" as to the wisdom of
the United States Supreme
Court ruling that prayer in the
public schools is unconstitu-
tional, Moses I. Feuerstein,
president of the Union of
Orthodox Jewish Congregations
of America, stated in an address
to 450 delegates and visitors at
a banquet of the Northwest re-
gional convention of the orga-
He said that, while the Ortho-
dox group was committed to
the concept of the separation of
church and state as a basic
foundation of American life,
the emphasis on freedom of
religion by Jewish civil liberties
leaders could become a concept
of freedom from religion.
He added that the relegation
of prayer to the home and house
of worship and its elimination
from the public school leaves
religion without relevance to
what is most respected—educa-
"What the effect of this lack
of relevance will be to the
young America of the coming
generation is what is bothering
many Orthodox Jewish leaders,"
he added. "A national commu-
nity highly educated but with-
out a religious discipline is
what religious leaders fear most
in this coming era when scien-
tific progress and human sur-
vival are approaching the cross-
As a consultant of the. Na-
tional Community Relations
Advisory Council, the Ortho-
dox Union has been formally
associated with the position
taken by the NCRAC's con-
stituent organizations in sup-
port of the U.S. Supreme
Court June 25 decision, bar-
ring the New York Regents
Prayer from use in public
schools. Feuerstein told the
regional convention that the
issue was receiving further
study by his organization and
would be considered at the
organization's national con-
vention in Washington, D.C.
in November.



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NEW YORK, (JTA)—"Amer-
ica," the Jesuit weekly, was
under new fire from both Chris-
tian and Jewish sources for its
editorial asserting that Jewish
espousal of bans on religious
practices in public schools was
responsible for creating anti-
Semitic reactions among Cath-
The focus of the debate—the
U.S. Supreme Court ruling out-
lawing the New York Regents
Prayer in public schools—was
the occasion of a hectic meeting
of the Hicksville school board
in suburban Long Island. The
Hicksville board decided to
yield to a New York State Edu-
cation Department ruling that
it could not use a part of the
National Anthem in place of
the banned Regents prayer.
Dr. James E. Allen, New
York State Education Com-
missioner, ruled last week
that the Hicksville school
board could not designate a
part of the National Anthem
—which contains the phrase
"In God Is Our Trust"—as an
official school prayer. In so
doing he upheld a petition of
Mrs. Miriam. Rubenstein,
mother of two Hicksville
school children, opposing the
The Hicksville board adopted
unanimously a resolution stipu-
lating that the 13,000 children
in the school district will first
offer the pledge of allegiance
to the flag, then "have a period
of silent prayer or meditation

according to the belief or de-
sires of the individual pupil"
and lastly, sing a verse or
verses of "The Star Spangled
In another phase of the New
York struggle, the American
Legion of Nassau County,where
Hicksville is located, began dis-
tribution over the weekend of
100,000 copies of a prayer which
the Legion said school children
could recite voluntarily' at the
beginning of each school day.
The proposed prayer reads:
"We, Thy school children ac-
knowledge o u r dependence
upon Thee, Almighty God, and
beseech Thy blessing upon us,
our country, our parents and
our teachers."
The editorial in "America"
which had been challenged by
a 1,200-word reply from . the
American Jewish Committee
printed in the Jesuit periodical,
also was criticized by Dore
Schary, the playwright. Copies
of his letter were distributed by
the Anti-Defamation League of
Bnai Brith as an official com-
munication from the ADL to
the Jesuit periodical.
Another denunciation came
from the Protestant weekly,
"Christian Century," which
printed an editorial under the
headline: "Is 'America' Try-
ing to Bully the, Jews?" The
Protestant weekly asserted
that the purpose of the Jesuit
editorial was to frighten Jews
into deserting Protestants and
other Americans "who sup-
port the Supreme Court rul-
ing." It called the "America"
editorial "a thinly veiled
threat to the Jewish commu-
nity of this country."

New Concept of World Citizenship
Arising from Youth Aid to Nations

(Direct JTA Teletype Wire
to The Jewish News)

McLINTON, Conn. — Young
Americans doing constructive
work in developing countries
are creating a new concept of
world citizenship, Murray S.
Greenfield, executive director
of the Association of Americans
and Canadians in Israel, told
300 representatives from 99
college campuses at a confer-
ence of the student Zionist
organization here Tuesday.
"Whether they settle tem-
porarily or permanently in a
foreign country, whether they
go to Africa as Peace Crops
workers, to India as volunteers
for international organizations,
to Israel as youth aliyah set-
tlers," Greenfield said, "they
are forming a new class of
international workers with a
kind of dual citizenship bene-
fitting both America and the
countries in which they work."
American-born Greenfield, a
resident of Israel since his par-
ticipation in the 1948 War of
Independence, proposed spe-
cifically that Americans who
have worked in, or have other
ties with, the developing coun-
tries, form supporting groups
similar to the Association of
Americans and Canadians in
Such two-way associations, he
said, operating in the United
States and in the developing
country, would serve as clear-
ing houses for individual as-
sistance and exchange informa-
Greenfield said that his group
founded in 1951, has given ad-
vice and aid on housing, em-
ployment, language and cus-
toms to thousands of Ameri-
cans and Canadians who have
either visited Israel or decided
to settle in its towns or com-
munal settlements which are
helping build the country. _
Over ten thousand members,
inclu.ding Israel's Foreign Min-
ister Golda Meir, living in both
Israel and America, give mutual
aid and exchange information
via the Associaton's newsletters,

special events, housing mortgage
plans and work conferences.
Greenfield, who returns to
Israel later this month, has
been in the United States the
past two months, addressing
Zionist and Jewish groups and
arranging Israel art exhibits

75th Anniversary
of Yeshiva U. Is
Celebrated in Israel

75th anniversary of the found-
ing of Yeshiva University of
New York was marked here
with ceremonies at the Heichal
Shlomo Religious Center at-
tended by some 1,500 persons
including President Izhak Ben-
Zvi, Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Nis-
sim, members of the cabinet
and other senior government
Interior Minister Moshe Sha-
pira presided at the event at
which glowing tributes to the
achievements of the university
were delivered by Education
Minister Abba Eban and Re-
ligious Affairs Minister Zorach
Warhaftig. Other speakers in-
cluded Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi
Issar. Yehuda Unterman and
Jerusalem Mayor Mordechai
G. Spencer Barnes, United
States Charge d'Affaires in Tel
Aviv, told the gathering that
the U. S. Government greatly
appreciates the achievements
of Yeshiva University. Eliahu
Elath, president of the Hebrew
University, called for closer ties
between the Yeshiva and Is-
rael's institutions of higher
Professor Samuel K. Mirsky
of Yeshiva University, present-
ed a special scroll to President
Ben-Zvi on behalf of the in-

The first street to be illumi-
nated by gaslight in America
was Pelham Street in Newport,
R.I., in 1806.

At the offices of "America,"
the periodical's editor, Rev.
Thurston N. Davis, said that the
magazine intended to print let-
ters on the editorial for an issue
or two and then probably pub-
lish another editorial summariz-
ing reactions of the publica-
tion's editors to the replies.
Support for "America" and
"its advice to American Jews"
was contained in an editorial in
"The Pilot," the official organ
of the Archdiocese of Boston,
the seat of Richard Cardinal
Cushing. That editorial said that
"certain highly organized • and
single-minded people in the
Jewish community" were por-
trying American Jewry as op-
posed to all religious practices
in the public sphere. It said
"other Jewish voices must be
raised — some happily already
have been—to make it plain
that many Jews. like many Prot-
estants and Catholics, are anxi-
ous about the increasing secu-
larization of the American way
and are seeking to find ways to
reinforce the influence of re-
ligion in private and public
Schary, in 115 s letter, assert.
ed that, if the ADL, as a
"good friend" of "America,"
had been consulted, "we
would have advised them to
forget the whole thing . . . it
might have prevented the
publication of .a carelessly
written editorial which serves
to confuse and irritate a high-
ly flammable issue."
Schary added that "for a mo-
ment, the editors of 'America'
have forgotten a plain truth—
that bigotry rarely stems from
the actions of the - victim but
from the attitude of bigots." He
called the editorial "a stunning
setback to enlightenment."
CHICAGO, (JTA) — A warn-
ing that it may be impossible to
teach religion in public high
schools with sufficient objec-
tivity was issued here by Rabbi
Robert Gordis of New York,
professor of Bible at the Jewish
Theological Seminary of Amer-
The educator voiced that cau-
tion in an interview previewing
a new book, to be published
here by the University of Chi-
cago Press, under the title "The
Root and the Branch: Judaism
and the Free Society."
Conceding that the problem
of what he called "religious
illiteracy" is genuine, Rabbi
Gordis declared, neverthe-
less, that there, are many dif-
ficulties in attempting to
teach religion to pupils in
public high schools . . He rec-
ommended further "concen-
trated study" of the problem
and experimentation for de-
velopment of a successful
program in this field.
Religious-minded person s,

stated Gordis, find it "highly
objectionable" to attempt to
present religion objectively
without efforts to obtain a stu-
dent's commitment to a specific
faith. He listed the following
points among the difficulties
facing efforts to teach religion
Textbooks and study mate-
rials "leave much to be desired
from the standpoint of objectiv-
ity and content and raise the
serious question whether ade-
quate material can be prepared
to meet this need."
This "new and delicate as-
signment," for teachers, who
would have to be specially
trained, would aggravate t he
teacher shortage.
The introduction on courses
in religion might lead to a
religious test for teachers,
"particularly in view of the
mounting p r e. ssur es by
church groups for 'positive'
religious values in the
"It is highly doubtful whether
most Catholics, Protestants, or
Jews would be willing to have
their tenets and rites presented
to their children by those out-
side their respective traditions."
The proposal that religious
leaders in the community take
over public school religious in-
structions leads to equal diffi-
culties, Rabbi Gordis said.
He said priests, ministers and
rabbis would not likely be
"willing or able to give objec-
tive instruction • on religion."
Furthermore, he said, the large
number of sects and viewpoints
in Protestantism and Judaism
"would necessarily mean the
elimination of most sects and
the favored treatment of a few"
in religious instruction.









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