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September 28, 1962 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1962-09-28

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS — Friday, September 28,

Purely Commentary

Half of the entire Jewish people in the
world live in this country. It is natural, there-
fore, that American Jewry should be viewed
as occupying the major position of leadership
in Jewry.
There is no doubt that we are recognized
as the big brothers in matters involving the
security of Jews, in philanthropic efforts, in
movements to aid the less fortunate and those
for whom havens of refuge must be provided
whenever crises afflict them.
It is right, therefore, to ask whether in
spiritual matters, in cultural spheres, Ameri-
can Jewry is as highly regarded as we are
when the need arises for charity.
In a period of stock-taking, on the occa-
sion of ushering in a new year, this question
needs to be properly probed, in the best inter-
ests of our people's progress as a positive and
constructive group in this country, and for
the sake of assuring the best relations be-
tween us and our kinsmen everywhere.
There are many critics, some of whom do
not hesitate to show contempt for the rich
Americans because they look upon us as the
affluent who have failed to have as much
culture as we have economic security.
This compels us to admit that we have
not created as much spiritually as we have
But the critics must also take into view
the truth that we, ourselves—those who speak
for and evaluate the American Jewish position
—are more often the first to deplore the pre-
dominence of materialism over spirituality.
American Jews are keenly sensitive about the
slowness with which we move in the direction
of greater cultural progress. This concern is
in itself an indication of the existence of a

Major Need in 5723 — for
Re-Dedication to Strengthening
World Jewry's Spiritual Values

keen desire to create higher Jewish values
and to strive for the best cultural attainments.
In reviewing Jewry's status and the urgent
need for greater cultural accomplishments,
we inevitably reach a new road—the one that
leads to a realization of the worldwide status
of Jewry's spiritual role, and it is here that
we find obstacles that may cause American
Jewry's cultural retardations to fade into in-
It is on the worldwide front that we suffer
from a spiritual decline. Anyone, whether he
is Israeli or European, who seeks to pin guilt
for lack of sounder cultural aspirations upon
American Jewry, is lacking in realism. The
problem is universal, and it may well be that
the Jewries outside the United States are
guiltier than we are in the spiritual-cultural
The Jewish people is in dire need of
greater cultural inspiration, and American
Jewry knows it and strives for it. It is our
great misfortune that the inspirations which
at one time came from abroad no longer op-
erate. There is little left of the scholarship
of the first two or three decades of the pres-
ent century when so many truly inspired
Jewish leaders created great movements and
led out people in European lands. It was
from the reservoir they created that we were
able to derive strength and inspiration.
That reservoir is gone, but the desire it
inspired for learning and for higher Jewish
values has not vanished. It exists and it con-
tinually admonishes American Jewry not to
forget its heritage.
Would that the other Jewish communities
were as concerned over the needs for cultural
expansion as we are! The urge for spiritual

By Philip

sustenance certainly matches our philan-
thropic idealism. We have not reached the
highest rungs on the ladder of cultural crea-
tivity, but as long as we aspire to climb
higher, there is cause for assurance that the
Jewish position will be enhanced by a dedi-
cated American Jewry.
Jewry's most urgent need is to understand
its own position, to know its own history and
background, never to abandon its spiritual
inheritance. In time of calmness, when the
bigots in our midst are not too operative, the
possession of such knowledge is a cause of
pride in our people's creativeness. In time of
stress, when we are subjected to attacks, an
acquaintance with our status as Jews and as
citizens of the countries in which we reside
provides us with the best defensive mech-
In our concern about reactions of our
youth on issues involving our people, it is
especially urgent that they should be well
informed about their background, their his-
tory, the status of their kinsmen wherever
they may reside. An uninformed youth can
become a confused group that will be unable
to meet the challenges that inevitable afflict
us. A well-informed constituency, on the other
hand, can withstand attacks in times of crises
and can be creative in elevating Jewish cul-
tural standards.
It is generally acknowledged that the need
to advance our cultural status is the major re-
sponsibility of Jews everywhere. It is a duty
that is not limited to a single community. It
devolves upon all Jews, wherever they may
reside. Its fulfillment calls for great dedica-
tion. Towards it we must devote all our
energies during the New Year 5723.

Prof. Donald E. Boles' Book on Religion in Schools
Evaluates Both Sides of 'Separation' Controversy

Although published before
the U. S. Supreme Court made
its recent decision on the chant-
ing of prayers in the public
schools, "The Bible, Religion
and the Public Schools" by Prof.
Donald E. Boles of Iowa State
University, published by Iowa
State University Press, Ames,
Ia., is one of the major studies
of the subject.
Revealing the sharp division
on the issue between all faiths,
referring extensively to a 11
authoritative sources and quot-
ing all relevant comments by
Jewish leaders and national or-
ganizations, Dr. Boles makes a
thorough analysis of educators'
and officials' views, the legal
issues involved, the numerous
state test cases and many other
related problems.
In his analysis of the pre-
vailing conditions, Dr. Boles
points out that Vermont is
the only state that does not
have a constitutional provi-
sion prohibiting the expendi-
ture of public funds for sec-
tarian purposes, and 24 states
have statutes prohibiting sec-
tarian instruction in public
A Michigan Supreme Court
ruling upholding Bible reading
in schools is alluded to and
Justice Moore's dissenting opin-
ion is quoted as stating that on
the basis of that ruling Detroit
schools could order the teach-
ing of "the theological tenets
of any Christian church."
"But enactments," Prof. Boles
states, "do not spell out that
practices constitute sectarian
instruction. As a result, Bible
reading and religious exercises
of various types which many
people regard as falling under
these bans are not regarded
as sectarian in many of the
In 37 states, Bible reading is
permitted in public schools, but
Mississippi is the only state
which has a constitutional pro-
vision permitting it.
Dr. Boles declares that "no
state constitution specifically
prohibits programs of this
There are 12 states that re-
quire Bible reading in public
schools: five have statutes per-
mitting but not requiring it,

five have court decisions per-
mitting the practice and 14
states permit Bible reading "in
the absence of any provision
whatsoever, and this practice
has never been challenged in
the courts."
There are 10 states in which
Bible reading is considered sec-
tarian instruction, and in seven
of them this decision was the
result of judicial rulings. In
the other three, educational
policy formulators interpreted
Bible reading as illegal. The
highest courts in 13 states up-
held Bible reading and declared
that the Bible is not a sectarian
book, denying that the Protes-
tant King James Version is dif-
ferent from the Catholic Douay
These are some of the facts
incorporated in Dr. Boles' en-
lightening work. He shows how
the public schools became secu-
larized in the middle of the
19th century as a result of the
large influx of Roman Catholic
and Jewish immigrants and the
multiplication o f Protestant
sects. Now, however, "while the
public schools are becoming
totally separated from all
church influence . . . those who
favor such programs (Bible
reading) point out that a ma-
jority of the children in this
country now receive no syste-
matic religious instruction."
They say that "programs of
this nature have been and are
now successfully being used in
many countries of the world.
It is not necessary, they insist,
to teach secretarian dogmas in
these exercises, but merely the
fundamentals upon which nearly
everyone agrees."
Presenting t h e opposition
viewpoint, Dr. Boles declares:
"Those who oppose religi-
ous instruction a n d Bible
reading agree essentially that
such programs are unneces-
sary and unwise. They state
that our public schools are
now doing a very satisfactory
job of educating our young,
and they present material
which illustrates that public
schools are better than pa-
rochial and private schools.
The public schools are no
more godless, they explain,

than are the executive. legis-
lative and judicial branches
of our government . . . The
opponents of Bible reading in
the public schools stress that
crime conditions in the United
States are not due to the ab-
sence of religious teaching
in the public schools . . .
Ignorance of the Bible, they
believe, does not result from
t h e fact that many public -
schools do not give religious
instruction. Whereas 100
years ago the Bible was the
only book in most homes
from which the children
might learn to read, today
there are thousands of chil-
dren's books to develop
youthful reading . . . Those
who oppose Bible reading be-
lieve that admitting these
problems into the public
schools would be an unfortu-
nate backward step . . ."
Dr. Boles' opinion is t h a t
"one reason Bible-reading pro-
grams appear destined to stir
increasing resentment is trace-
able to the mushrooming metro-
politan areas characteristic of
the United States today. The
metropolis represents a poly-
glot of economic, social, politi-
cal and religious attitudes.
Today, it is increasingly more
difficult to find the uniformity
and homogeneity of religious
views in any community which
characterized the United States
when it was largely an agricul-
tural oriented society. Practices
such as Bible reading aroused
little or no controversy when
the community was predomi-
nantly Protestant.. Today such
programs are likely to cause
considerable restiveness where
the population represents a
variety of religious faiths."
Dr. Boles points to the "grow-
ing willingness of large num-
bers of Americans, as reflected
in the 1960 Presidential cam-
paign," as a development "not
only to recognize but to insist
on respecting the religious
sensibilities of divergent relig-
ious faiths."
But these tendencies, he
maintains could be reversed by
a Supreme Court decision that
Bible reading does not violate
the First Amendment — an

assumption that has for the
present been invalidated by the
high court's decision to the con-
trary; and that-. "a possible de-
velopment leading to increased
pressure for Bible reading pro-
grams would be a national
spiritual upheaval resulting
from some major crisis of a
domestic or international na-
ture. When confronted by
seemingly insurmountable ob-
stacles, nations have frequently
witnessed a n overwhelming,
surge toward religious activi-
ties. Should this come about,
Bible reading programs a n d
prayers in the schools might
appear as manifestations of
such a national ground-swell."
This is how Dr. Boles de-
scribes the situation by view-
ing both sides of the issue.
In the course of his analysis
of refers to the attitudes of
leaders of all faiths. He shows
how, in the 1870s, the liberal
movement enlisted Roman
Catholics as well as Jews in
attacking "all traces of re-
ligion in American life."
Court actions ensued when
Bible reading commenced. the
attitudes of Jefferson and
were influential in interpret-
ing the First Amendment, but
in spite of their views Bible
reading was common in the
ante-bellum period.
The debate on the religious
issue grew especially heated
after the Civil War. Biblical
scholars were involved in the
debates. In the course of quot-
ing some of them, Dr. Boles
includes the following -view-
point which was contained in
the evidence in the Schempp
vs. Abingdon case in 1959:
"Dr. Solomon Grayzel, edi-
tor of the Jewish Publication
S o c i e t y, emphasized that
there were marked differ-
ences between the Jewish
Holy Scriptures and the
Christian Holy Bible. The
most obvious was the absence
of the New Testament in the
Jewish Holy Scripture. Dr.
Grayzel further noted that
portions of the New Testa-
ment were offensive to Jew-
ish tradition and, 'from the
standpoint of the Jewish
faith, the concept of Jesus



Christ as the son of God was
practically blasphemous.' He
noted instances in the New
Testament which assertedly
were not only sectarian in
nature but tended to 'bring
the Jews into ridicule or
scorn.' Dr. Grayzel believed
that such • material from the
New Testament could be ex-
plained to Jewish children in
such a way as to do no harm
to them. On the other hand,
if portions of the New Testa-
ment were read to such chil-
dren without explanation,
they would be, he felt, psycho-
logically harmful to the child.
In addition, practices of the
latter type causes a decisive
force within the social media
of the school, Grayzel
The Jewish attitude toward
Bible reading are given a
thorough review. Statements by
the American Jewish Congress,
Bnai Brith Anti - Defamation
League, Central Conference of
American Rabbis, Rabbinical
Council of America, New York
Board of Rabbis, American
Jewish Congress, Central Con-
ference of American Rabbis
and numerous individuals are
quoted to show the strong Jew-
ish opposition.
On the other hand there are
viewpoints like those of Presi-
dent Henry Van Dusen of
Union Theological 'Seminary
who said: "Unless religious in-
struction can be included in
the program of the public
school, church leaders will be
driven increasingly to the expe-
dient of the church sponsored
Also — C. P. Taft, one-time
president of the Federated
Council of Churches of Christ,
favored the teaching of a 11
three of the world's great re-
ligions — Judaism, Christianity
and Islam — in the public
By presenting the overall pic-
ture in this aggravated issue,
Dr. Boles has compiled opin-
ions which enable the viewing
of the controversy from all
angles. Its objectivity makes
"The Bible, Religion, and the
Public Schools" an outstanding
work on the subject.

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