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January 07, 1966 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1966-01-07

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Reassuring 'Adolescence and Religion' Study Says Youth Are 'Traditionalistic'

In "Adolescence and Religion," ent and child tend to look upon Bar
published by Schenkman (1 Story Mitzvah as a terminal goal which
St., Cambridge, Mass.), Dr. Bernard provides a convenient point at
C. Rosen makes a study of the which to stop his education." The
Jewish teen-ager in American study declares: "Apparently it was
society. Because it is in adolescence easier to transmit information
, (Copyright, 1966, JTA, Inc.)
that the youth questions religious about Jewish history and certain
He was on a bus in Tel Aviv. tenets as they were taught when religious practices and customs to
He might have come from Newark, he was a child, Dr. Rosen devoted adolescents from families where
New Jersey, or Akron, Ohio, or his research in this volume on the the atmosphere was sympathetic
San Diego. A typical American context of Jewish culture in this to traditionalism than to young-
tourist. This was his first day country.
sters who found no encouragement
in Israel and this was his first
There is a variety of approaches for their achievement at home."
bus ride there. He was on the to this study, and many charts
Dr. Rosen shows in an analysis
land which Moses had foreseen serve
society-wide influences that in
from the top of Pisgah. Here
the Yorktown study there was evi-
David had sung and Amos preach- views on many issues.
Indicating at the outset that "for dence of a desire by boys to play
ed the universal God.
on Friday nights, thus
He was all excited. He looked centuries Jewish religious leaders basketball
about the bus. He knew none of resisted any attempt to impersonal- destroying a rabbi's hope for a
the passengers. The bus rode a- ize the Deity, the findings in one teenage Sabbath program. There
long. Every now and then the study show that 68 per cent of the also is indication of the strain
driver would say something loud, adolescents said they believed in a toward secularization. Then there
but the American did not under- personal God, 23 per cent in an im- is the abandonment of ritual, Dr.
stand what he said. Then suddenly personal one and only five per cent Rosen comments: "Ironically, the
the driver called out Shalom Aleic- said they did not believe in God. stress on ceremonial observance
There are interesting figures may have the unintended conse-
hem. The American could not re-
strain himself. He cried out aloud, on the Chosen People quiz. A quence of jeopardizing the adoles-
"Israel is a wonderful land. Where Philadelphia sample showed that cent's adherence to religion."
In the societal influence, the
else in the world would you find 29 per cent accepted the idea, 38
the driver in the middle of a bus per cent rejected it, 28 per cent study finds that since in America
ride calling out to all Shalom did not know what to think. A religion is considered "a good
Yorktown (a sample named) thing," one girl is quoted as con-
He didn't know that Shalom group showed 22 per cent accept- fessing that her best friend is a
Aleichem was the name of a ing, 56 per cent rejecting, 22 per Catholic who would consider it
street, and the driver was just cent not knowing. A Nebraska funny if she did not go to syna-
calling the names of the streets poll resulted in 36 per cent ac- gogue.
as he came to them.
cepting, 30 per cent rejecting, 34
Discussing ethnic identity, Dr.
Sholem Aleichem might be a
per cent not knowing.
Rosen concludes that "one might
Yiddish writer elsewhere, but,
Similarly interesting and diverg- reasonably expect that adoles-
in Israel, he is a street.
ent views were expressed on the cents who defined ethnic identity
In the beginning, Israel did not world-to-come idea and Heaven and in religious terms would be more
look with favor upon Yiddish, but Hell and the legendary stories traditionalistic than those who
now the mood has changed. I about Moses.
gave a definition based on birth."
read that, during Prime Minister
Discussing the dietary code, Dr.
"On the whole," it is concluded
Eshkol's recent confinement in a Rosen points out that Reform Jews
this study by Dr. Rosen, "the
hospital, his attending doctor com- discard the practices, Conservatives in
tended to accept more
plained that Mr. Eshkol was full accept them with modifications and adolescent
beliefs than practices,
of jokes, but he only understood there are no modifications in possibly because
the observance of
about half. Eshkol generally tells Orthodoxy. Only four per cent of ceremonial rituals
restricted his
jokes in Yiddish.
adolescents said they never ate participation in the general society
When the famous Hebrew non-kosher food, 28 per cent "some- and circumscribed his behavior to
poet, Bialik, visited America, times," 68 per cent "often." In
far greater extent than did the
an American Jew upbraided Philadelphia and Nebraska, 68 per a acceptance
of traditional beliefs. A
him for speaking Yiddish. He cent favored a change in Kashrut. strict observance
• of the dietary
was asked: "You are a master
One chart shows that out of 136
of Hebrew. Why do you speak cases, '75 said they were strongly code, for example, requires very
or moderately r e l i g i o u s. Few
"Well," replied Bialik, "if you adolescents said they were coerced Israel-U.S. Center Project
are not in a hurry, I shall be into observing by their parents.
Fourteen additional Jewish Com-
glad to speak in Hebrew."
A study of youth groups shows munity Centers are planning to
Both Bialik and Eshkol spent that Junior Hadassah was not employ
their childhood in a Yiddish-speak- seriously interested in Zionism workers professional
from Israel next fall to
ing environment. Hebrew was to and placed its emphasis on ac- help intensify
the Jewish programs
them something lik. latin to the ceptance of a highly regarded
scholars of the Middle Ages. Even group name; a Greek letter teen of their agencies. Five such work-
are now full-time staff mem-
Spinoza wrote his great philo- age girls' group has no Jewish ers
bers of the centers in Boston,
sophical works in Latin.
program and borrows its prestige Detroit, St. Louis, San Francisco,
If you were in a hurry or want- from Greek, not Jewish sources;
ed to tell a joke, you spoke Yid- a Young Judea group seems de- and Pittsburgh as the result of
dual exchange program devel-
dish, not Hebrew. It's somewhat void of Jewish cultural and re- a oped
by the National Jewish Wel-
hard for the average Jew to as- ligious content; a Bnai Brith
fare board and the Jewish Agency
sociate jokes with _Hebrew. We Aleph Zadik Aleph chapter for
ask ourselves: "Did Abraham or "seemed moribund" and of its
Manuel G. Batshaw, JWB dir-
Isaac tell humorous stories?
15 or so members "we never saw ector of national, services, is leav-
They must have. The very
more than five at a meeting."
ing for Israel Feb. 7 to select the
name Isaac means laughter.
Dr. Rosen states that "both par- new workers.
Sarah laughed when the angels
told her she would yet bear
a child and, when the child was
born, it was named Isaac, or
A wonderful name for a child,
They laughed as much in those
ancient days, but the columnists
were not around to take down
the jokes. It has been said that,
if Adam were to return, every-
thing would seem new to him
except the jokes. Mostly, all gen-
erations repeat the same basic
jokes. It is said by some statis-
ticians, that there are only seven
basic jokes and we constantly re-
peat different forms of the same
Yiddish is an adopted mother.
But the mother who raised you,
whether she is tied to you by
blood or not, is still dear to you
and cannot be cast aside.
In earlier days, Israel frowned
on Yiddish, fearing it as a rival,
fearful it would supplant Hebrew.
But now that this fear has gone,
Yiddish is allowed full scope,
without interference.
Bialik himself, some 30 years
ago, only convinced himself that
Hebrew would survive when he
experimentally pulled a boy's ear
in Israel. The boy cried "Chamor"
(Donkey) at the poet. Bialik was
happy. The language you choose
to curse in, he said, is the lan-
guage which will survive.




precise, at times inconvenient and
often conspicuous behavior. The
belief in the Messiah or Chosen
People concepts imposes far fewer
restrictions on their action."
The Midwesterner, we are in-
formed, more than the Easterner,
"tended to be more traditionalis-
tic," that "few adolescents were
militantly hostile 'to religion" and
while the approach to religion is
friendly it is non-enthusiastic.
The Yorktown Jewish Center was
not found too effective and "as a
secular organization, its influence
upon the adolescent's religiosity
was indirect and apparently neglig-
Dr. Rosen states that adults
should find this study reassuring,
especially those who feared that
we are "losing our youth." He de-
"The data clearly indicated
that most adolescents were op-
posed to assimilation and that in
general they were oriented posi-
tively toward religion."
He admonishes that the Jewish

youngster is searching for guidance
as to what to believe and how to
behave. He states that "there is a
latent reservoir of religious felling
among Jewish adolescents which
has not been adequately tapped."
"The challenge and the oppor-
tunity which this study poses for
parents and other adults interested
in -youth, is how to arouse and
channel the latent enthusiasm and
vigor that abound in Jewish adoles-
cents," he asserts. "For, it is in the
hands of youngsters such as those
described in this book that the
future of Judaism and the Ameri-
can Jewish community lie."

Friday, January 7, 1966-11


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