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August 26, 1966 - Image 6

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1966-08-26

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

AJCommittee Sees importance of Queries
on Religion, but Doesn't Want It in Census

(Direct JTA Teletype Wire
to The Jewish News)

Jewish Committee Tuesday sub-
mitted a statement here outlining
its attitude toward the issue
whether a question on religion
should be included in the 1970
decennial census.
The statement was presented by
Morris B. Abram, AJC president,
to the House Committee on Post
Office and Civil Service which is
now holding hearings here on
plans of the U.S. Census Bureau
for the 1970 census of the popula-
tion in this country.
Abram reaffirmed in his state-
ment the opposition of the Ameri-
can Jewish Committee to the in-
clusion of a question on religion
in the 1970 census as a violation
of the First Amendment. However
he urged that the U. S. Census
Bureau study alternate methods
of obtaining data on religion with-
out the compulsion accompanying
the decennial census.
"The reason for the commit-
tee's opposition," Abram said,
"is that answers to questions in
the decennial census are manda-
tory- under the law. To compel
a person to profess his religious
affiliation or lack of affiliation is
to deprive him of religious free-
dom, in direct violation of the
First Amendment. The subject
has never been included in a
decennial census, and we earn-
estly hope that the federal gov-
ernment will not disturb this
A b r a m recognized, however,
the "widespread interest" in data
on the religious composition of the
U.S. population, adding that such
information h a s "considerable
sociological, cultural and practical
This information, he said, "is
needed by scholars and by the
religious communities themselves,
and is also of interest to the gen-
eral public. The religious bodies,
in spite of their best efforts, have
been unable to compile adequate
statistics about their memberships.
There seems to be no way to
gather reliable data without active
involvement of the federal govern-

valuable insight into the ethnic
characteristics of the American
population and its subgroups," he
urged an updating of some of the
questions in keeping with chang-
ing situations. "For example, he
said, "to obtain data that will now
be analogous in significance to
those of 1960, it will now be neces-
sary to ask about grandparents'
as well as parents' place of birth."
Color or Race — data broken
down by color or race have
proved "widely useful," Abram
said," as a measure of the ex-
tent to which various racial
groups are discriminated against
or otherwise disadvantaged,"
and should be continued.
Abram said it has been suggest-
ed that questions on voting and
registration be included in the
1970 census. "If the Justice De-
partment feels that such informa-
tion is essential to enforce the act,
we see no objection to such ques-
tions," he concluded.
Abram's statement hailed the
Census Bureau. as "probably our
nation's greatest social research
agency," adding that "its scholar-
ship, its technical competence, and
the accuracy and value of its pub-
lications have deservedly won re-
nown throughout the world."
A. Ross Eckler, director of the
Census Bureau, told a House
Census subcommittee Wednesday

A Dissent

Lyndon Johnson greeted them
and Hubert Humphrey addressed
them. Arthur Goldberg and many
others saluted them. I refer to
those responsible for the Anglo-
Jewish papers of this country, one
of which you are reading.
At their convention in Washing-
ton they elected a seasoned pub-
lisher to be their president. He
is Adolph Rosenberg, of Atlanta's
Southern Israelite. Mazal tov!
With one decision of the group,
known as the American Jewish
Press Association, I differ in part.
I do so gingerly, for the proposals
were made after 16 years of study
by a prestigious panel headed by
Leo Frisch, of the Twin Cities;
Philip Slomovitz, Detroit; Albert
Pointing to the use of sampling Bloom, Pittsburgh.
as one alternative method of ob-
The decision has to do with the
taining such data, the president way we spell the names of the
of the AJ Committee said there Jewish holidays in English. It's
were differences of opinion on the a nettling task and can never be
constitutionality of a question on satisfactory. You just can't put
religion where the answer would into the alphabet of one language
be entirely voluntary. He urged that of another — without troubles.
the House committee to study the
The papers decided to go
Sephardic in the main. Which
Abram recalled that a Census means they prefer Sukkot to Suk-
Bureau sample study in 1957 kos. Personally, I like the latter
covering 35,000 households had best.
obtained valuable information on
They have also chosen to lop
the religious make-up of the off the h from some holidays.
population, including statistics Thus they plump for Hoshana
on the age, geographical, dis-
Raba, ignoring the final, silent h.
tribution, fertility and intermar- As a religious school youngster
riage rates of members of the
once explained: "In Hebrew the
major faith communities. These feminine words end in ah."
results were published in an of-
As for that guttural sound which
ficial Census Bureau publication is not in English, the committee
and were summarized in the calls for the use of plain h in-
American Jewish Year Book. stead of ch. So henceforth it is
"An even larger sample might to be Simhat Tora.
well uncover a correspondingly
I respectfully demur because
greater amount of valuable data," some of these holidays have be-
Abram added, then added this come part of the English language
caution: "If that course is follow- and their spelling has become
ed, we maintain that any -question fixed. Hence, the English news-
asked must restrict itself to re- papers have adopted Rosh Hash-
ligious affiliation or identity as anah and so it will remain.
understood by each respondent,
Another problem has to do with
and must avoid probing into any- the Hebrew shva, those two dots
one's religious belief or behavior. one on top of the other which
Any question asked must be clear, means that there's hardly any
simple, and of a kind likely to sound with a letter. In the case
attract a high rate of response. of the holiday which closes out
"The wording of the question in Sukkos the -group came out for
the 1957 sample census—what is Shemini Atzeret. There's a shva
your religion,—seems to have met iri the second word of the
these criteria, and might well Hebrew for the ninth clay of Av,
serve as a model for future in- but here the committee asks not
for Tisha be-Av but for Tisha
In addition to the matter of re- B'Av (which is doubly inconsistent
ligion, Abram's statement dis- because in Sephardic it would be
cussed census questions on ethnic Ab).
identity, color, or race, and civil
Are you gentlemen, then, going
rights. His conclusions were;
to change the spelling of that
Ethnic Identity—while favoring fraternal order to Benai Brith?
the continuation of questions re- I doubt it.
ferring to ethnic origin, which in
As for your excision of that final
the past have "helped afford much h, will you henceforth refer to


that he doubted the census of
1970 would require citizens to
'state their religion although he
believed such a question would
be valuable.
Eckler's statement came in re-
sponse to testimony by Rep. Corne-
lius Gallagher, New Jersey Demo-
crat, that Nazi. Germany used the
census to identify JewS, and "It
was just such a system that facili-
tated the mass murders in Ger-
many during the 1930s and 1940s."
Rep. Gallagher, chairman of a
House subcommittee investigating
invasion of privacy, warned the
Census Bureau to beware of invad-
ing the individual's right to pri-
vacy in a zealous search for in-
The Congressman said that prob-
ing by the government into re-
ligious affiliations was "a danger-
ous step backward" and "could
lead to a secret police state." He
said that "Such questions are
asked in a census of totalitarian
states. They should not be asked
by the United States government."
"We cannot and should not for-
get that a census of Jews led to
machinery that made possible the
Nazi apprehension and murder of
many people," he declared. Eckler,
commenting on Rep. Gallagher's
assertions, said he anticipated a
"storm" of emotional protests on
the religious issue.

6—Friday August 26, 1966


YIVO Publishes Guide to Jewish Research

The first current guide to re-
search in the social sciences and
the humanities on Jewish themes
has been published by the YIVO
Institute for Jewish Research. The
guide consists of an index of "Doc-
toral Dissertations and Masters
Theses Accepted by American In-
stitutions of Higher Learning,
This is the first project of the
YIVO Clearinghouse for Social and
Humanistic Jewish Research. The
purpose of the Clearinghouse is to
systematically r e c o r d works of
scholarship on Jewish topics and
to make this information available
to scholars everywhere.
YIVO would thus become the
central depository for all cur-
rent studies. Augmented in this
way, the already vast resources
of the YIVO library of 300,000
v olum es and 'VIVO archives
would p r o v i d e a facility for

Jewish research unmatched any-
where in the world.
The current index was prepared
by Wita Ravid, research assistant,
Language and Culture Atlas of
Ashkenazic Jewry, Columbia 'Uni-
versity, and includes a preface by
Dr. Joshua A. Fishman, dean of
the Ferkauf Graduate School of
Education of Yeshiva University
and a member of YIVO's research
planning committee.

The hearts of the people are
the only legitimate foundations of
empire.—Chinese proverb.

Michigan's Best
Aug. 26-Sept. 5


(A Seven Arts Feature)

a Bar Mitzva? Will you call the
Bible Scroll the Tora?
I doubt it. Because Bar Mitzvah
and Torah are virtually English.
And so is Chanukah, even though
you can find here and there
Chanuko, Hanukah, Hannukah and
57 other spelling varieties.



Pan-American Maccabiad
Is Under Way in Brazil

SAO PAULO, Brazil (JTA) —
Seven hundred athletes and sports
organization delegates from 13
American countries, including the
United States are participating
here in the Pan-American Macca-
biad Aug. 23-28.



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