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December 02, 1994 - Image 185

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1994-12-02

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

PI:ow'ortni
'Mita!

Continuity: Yes.
Constitutional Prayer: No.

CJF's 1994 General Assembly rallied around
school prayer.

OPEN
SUNDAYS
NOON TIL
5 0 0 P M
THURSDAY
EVENINGS
mm=mm=mest
UNTIL
8 : 0 0 P M

(0,218831teNS9CIOMMIMISSOI14

AMY STONE SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH NEWS

In a speech Nov. 18 at the
- esterday's angst is today's
study commission. Last Colorado Convention Center,
year's General Assembly Mr. Gore stressed the Clinton
of the Council of Jewish administration's disagreement
Federations created a commis- with "coerced" prayer in public
sion to study the buzz-word of the schools. He also defended church-
day: "Jewish continuity." But del- state separation as neither a De-
egates at this year's GA, which mocratic nor a Republican
was held in Denver from Nov. 16 concept, "but [as] an American
through 20, were galvanized by idea."
Two days before Mr. Gore's
a new issue: school prayer.
The school prayer issue sur- speech, President Clinton had

y

Americans for a Safe Israel protested Israel's possible
withdrawal from the Golan Heights outside the G.A.

THE DENVER POST/KARL GEHRING

faced late in the gathering of suggested that he might consid-
more than 2,700 Jewish lay lead- er supporting a constitutional
ers and professionals from 189 amendment allowing voluntary
Jewish federations in the U.S. school prayer. This was seem-
and Canada. (Participants also ingly in response to the intention
came from Israel and seven oth- of Rep. Newt Gingrich, R-Ga.,
er countries.) Despite impas- that, as incoming speaker of the
sioned speeches by Israeli Prime House, he would have a congres-
Minister Yitzhak Rabin on the sional vote on a constitutional
peace breakthroughs of the past amendment on school prayer by
14 months and the need to nur- next July 4.
CJF President Maynard Wish-
ture Jewish identity and Likud
opposition leader Benjamin Ne- ner of Chicago told the Denver
tanyahu's attacks on the "bogus" Post he had told Mr. Gore
PLO peace and the need to nur- that the president's remarks
ture Jewish identity, it was Vice "sent waves of shock" through
President Al Gore's failure to the group. GA delegates passed
firmly oppose a school prayer a resolution endorsing church-
amendment that energized dele- state separation and calling
school prayer and a moment
gates.

of silence "equally unacceptable."
As delegates were vociferous-
ly opposing enforced school
prayer, the language of prayer
and the appreciation of spiritu-
ality were a subtext at the as-
sembly. At the opening plenary,
World Zionist Organization pres-
ident Edgar Bronfman surprised
delegates by referring to HaShem
("the Name," a reference to God)
and saying that he had "been
reading the Bible every day." And
for the first time in 63 years of
G.A. programming, a plenary ses-
sion was devoted to studying the
text of the week's Bible portion,
and several study sessions on the
midrash were held during the as-
sembly's four days.
In the past, Jewish federations
have tended to steer clear of reli-
gion, concentrating on fund rais-
ing for local needs and for the
Jewish Agency for Israel and the
American Jewish Joint Distrib-
ution Committee. But distress
over the 52 percent intermarriage
rate and the concern for Jewish
continuity are translating into an
appreciation of the need for Jew-
ish education for all. Covering all
bases, this G.A.'s theme was
"Building Jewish Community:
Contributing to Our Societies."
This year's G.A. marked the
25th anniversary of student
demonstrations at the 1969 Gen-
eral Assembly held in Boston.
Protesters had demanded to be
allowed into the sessions so they
could oppose inadequate funding
of Jewish education. Now, a quar-
ter of a century later, the student
information center was a major
feature of the convention center
lobby and Wendy Smith, the 21-
year-old president of Yale Uni-
versity's Hillel, spoke at the
opening plenary.
Some of the freshest energy
was that of recent graduates now
working on college campuses as
Steinhardt Fellows, funded by
New York philanthropist Michael
Steinhardt. Their job is to attract
uninvolved Jewish students into
Jewish activities. Those at the
G.A. spoke of their work with al-
most missionary zeal. One Stein-
hardt Fellow, Cary Burton, who
had received a good Quaker ed-
ucation at Brooklyn Friends
School, became involved in Hil-
lel at the University of Wiscon-
sin, spent his junior year at the

SCHOOL PRAYER page 110



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