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July 25, 1969 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1969-07-25

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

Enrollment Increasing at School for Converts

tions. Stress is on the theme that lief or hope that Judaism offers
(Copyright 1969, JTA, Inc.)
to be a Jew, one must lead a Jew- spiritual satisfaction and comfort
The only permanent year-around ish life.
found lacking in their present re-
School for Converts to Judaism in
Students are told that they are ligion or in living without religion.
the United States—and probably in expected—concurrently with the in- Mrs. Stern's response is that there
the world — has recorded a steady struction—to attend services at the is no valid reason for believing that
growth in enrollment throughout its synagogue of the referring rabbi. love for a Jew is a less honorable
15 years from 150 candidates in They are also told that both the and sincere motivation for conver-
1954 to an estimated 600 this year conversion rite and the marriage, sion that that of the individual who
at its New York City site. More if there is one, is to be performed reports he is unsatisfied with the
than 1,800 non-Jews in the New by that rabbi and that the couple, religion in which he was reared
York area are known to have con- or the individual convert, is expect- and wants to try Judaism.
verted to Judaism in that decade ed to join the referring rabbi's con-
The other question is the degree
and a half. gregation.
to which converts actually move
The school was started by Rabbi
into the Jewish community to
Daniel L. Davis, director of the $25 registration fee is charged, establish Jewish homes and be-
New York Federation of Reform which covers instructional material come active Jews. Mrs. Stern said
Synagogues, an agency of the —three textbooks and a variety of lack of funds has prevented follow.
Union of American Hebrew Cengre- UAHC and Central Conference of up studies. However, she added,
gations, the Reform congregational American Rabbis pamphlets. Cir- based on visits to synagogues and
body. Classes are held in the cha- cumsision is not required nor im- other impressionistic information,
pel of the House of Living Judaism mersion in a ritualarium (mikve). she believed that converts do lead
in Manhattan, which houses the More than half of the registrants steadfastly Jewish lives as active
offices of hte UAHC and the Re- complete the course, Mrs. Stern and valued members of their adopt-
form Federation. The 150 candi- reported. From January, 1954, ed Jewish communities and that
dates of the school's first year were through spring of 1968, 3,726 per- women converts who join the syna-
enrolled in four classes. There are sons recorded enrollment and 1,874 gogue are usually better educated
now 14 classes annually, including completed the course. From 1954 to and more active Jewishly than
three this summer. The first sum- 1963, 978 graduates were reported their born-Jewish peers. Informa-
mer class was started in 1965 with by the participating rabbis as hav- tion on family formation, which
19 students. Class size is geared to ing converted. From 1964 to 1967, could be expected after 15 years of
the 60-person capacity of the cha- 853 enrollees were reported as con- conversions—most of them for mar-
pel, which was deliberately chosen verted, a total from 1954 to 1967 of riage — is similarly lacking, Mrs.
Stern added. Rabbi Davis has de-
as the classroom site for its reli- 1,831 converts to Judaism.
There have, of course, been eared that the program has made
gious significance to the would-be
additional conversions since 1967, a major contribution "in keeping
In 1963, the program acquired , including some from graduates within the household of Israel hun-
of prior years, but specific fig- dreds of families that might other-
a volunteer coordinator, Mrs.
ures are not yet available from wise be lost to us."
Richard M. Stern, wife of a lead-
ing Reform rabbi who is still the rabbis who have made the
subsequent conversion. Both Rab-
active, in retirement, as a mem-
bi Davis and Mrs. Stern believe Boston Vigil Set for Jews
ber of the UAIIC executive board
that the great majority of New
and also as an honorary vice
York graduates do convert. There of Russia, Kochubiyevsky
president of the New York Re-
BOSTON (JTA) — The Jewish
are similar courses under Reform
form Federation.
auspices in 10 other cities, in- Community Council sponsored a
Mrs. Stern, a speech professor at
cluding Boston, Pittsburgh, Chi- vigil for Soviet Jewry here July
Hunter College, who came out of
cago, Detroit and Los Angeles, to protest "the repression of basic
retirement to become coordinator,
but these are on a much smaller civil rights in the Soviet Union."
told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency
Specifically, the demonstration de-
and less consistent scale.
that one of her first efforts was to
On completion of the course, the manded freedom for Boris Kochu-
set up better record-keeping pro-
candidate receives an attendance biyevsky, a Russian-Jewish engi-
neer, who was sentenced in May
She reported that more than 90 certificate, a copy of the Reform to three years in a prison camp
ceremony procedure,
per cent of the candidates have conversion
for allegedly slandering the Soviet
Christian backgrounds, with Roman and a copy of the marriage rite Union.
Catholics the largest single group. procedure. In the conversion rite,
Kochubiyevsky had applied in
The average age of registrants is the convert is required to state pub- vain for an exit permit to go to
under 30. Between 85 and 90 per licly that he has given up his form- Israel. In a letter to Soviet Com-
cent seek conversion out of a desire
ligious affiliations, to pledge loyalty munist Party chief Leonid I.
to marry a Jewish spouse. General-
to Judaism and to the Jewish peo- Brezhnev before his arrest he de-
ly there have been about 60 women
manded the right of emigration
to 40 men in the New York pro- ple "amid all circumstances and and was critical of the Soviet Union
gram.. Asked about blacks and conditions;" to promise to join with for denying Jews their own life, a
Puerto Ricans, Mrs. Stern noted the Jewish spouse to create a Jew- right granted other ethnic minori-
that a religious background from ish home and to participate active- ties in the USSR.
which all candidates are asked to ly in the life of the synagogue and
fill out has no such categories. She the Jewish community: and that, if
children are born, they will be
added that it was her impression
in the Jewish faith. Gener-
that there had been some candi- raised
ally, two witnesses are required for
dates in those categories
class during her six years as co- the rite.
Two questions are usually raised
ordinator. For the 1964-67 pericd,
1,467 candidates filled out cards, of about the program. One concerns
the sincerity of the would-be con-
whom 1,354 were Christians and 113
non-Christians. There were 744 verts, since only 10 to 15 per cent
UN 4-8785
seek to be Jews out of a stated be-
riod, 119 Lutherans, 109 Protes-
tants, two Quakers, two Buddhists,
two moslems, two Cherokee Indi-
ans, one Hindu and one Shintoist.

Passport Photos

ilatezt- 3agni2-

The listings included a scattering
of Disciples of Christ, Dutch Re-

form, Unitarians, Christian Scien-
tists, Eastern. Greek, Russian and

Syrian Christians. Nationalities
have included Canadians, Brazil-
ians, British, Belgian, French,
Spanish, German, Italian, Pakis-
tani, Lebanese, Turkish, Chinese,
Japanese and Israeli.

Friday, July 25, 1969-9


Nongovernment Groups Defend Status at UN

GENEVA (JTA) — A conference doubt the future status of the Co-
here of 90 nongovernmental organ- ordinating Board which represents
izations that enjoy consultative the Bnai Brith and the boards of

status within the United Nations
E conomic and Social Council
agreed to give special attention to
protecting the status and dignity of
such organizations.
The matter was brought up in
light of Soviet-Arab attempts to
deprive Jewish organizations of
their status at a meeting of
ECOSOC last month. The attempts
were partially successful. The UN
body agreed that the Coordinating
Board of Jewish Organizations
should continue to enjoy consulta-
tive status "until its future rela-
tionship with the council was finally
That qualification placed in some

Jewish deputies of Great Britain
and South Africa. Consultative
status allows nongovernmental
bodies to speak before ECOSOC
though not to vote.
Jewish organizations attending
the conference here are the World
Jewish Congr es s, Coordinating
Board of Jewish Organizations,
Consultative Council of Jewish Or-
ganizations and the International
Council of Jewish Women.

Old age is good advertisement.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson.



Israeli Retirement Club
Opens Tourists' Section

new kind of vacation resort has
been launched in Israel designed
for retired persons who have the
time for long and leisurely tours
of this country.
The Neve Aviv Club in Kfar
Shmaryahu, near Tel Aviv, this
month opened a new section of 60
double rooms, which it announced
is designed to accommodate temp-
orary visits of persons in the over-
60 category on a monthly basis.



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The conversion process begins
with a mandatory personal inter-
view of the would-be candidate
(and of the betrothed) by a Re-
form rabbi, who must satisfy
himself about the sincerity of the
applicant and that the applicant
understands both the advantages
and disadvantages of becoming a
Jew. Applicants are accepted by
the school only on recommends.
tion of a Reform rabbi. Candi-
dates under 21 must have written
approval from their parents.

Candidates attend nine weekly
Sessions, along with their Jewish
partners, whose attendance is re-
quired. Each session lasts 75 min-
utes, taught by Reform rabbis and

some rabbinic students. The candi-
date is presented with the basic
principles of Judaism, a brief his-
tory of the Jews, a summary of the
Jewish Holy Days, and a descrip-
tion of the major Jewish institu-


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