Page 181 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 25

Basic HTML Version

ence in recent years where the subject of education has not been
considered and resolutions passed in its behalf, only to be over-
looked and forgotten until the next convention or conclave. De-
spite the so-called revival of concern with the Jewish education
of the rising generation, the Jewish school and institutions of
higher learning have remained the step-children of the Jewish
community contrasted w ith the ingenuity and generosity Ameri-
can Jewry invests in eleemosynary and philanthropic activities.
Contemplating the programs of national and local Jewish organ-
izations one would conclude that the Jews o f America are still
the helpless immigrants of a half-century ago, in need of social
and economic relief rather than spiritual and cultural sustenance.
A wide gulf exists between public professions and declarations
in favor of fostering the Jewish heritage and actual commitment
and performance, a lamentable situation which has led to cyni-
cism among Jewish youth and to serious questioning of the sin-
cerity of their elders.
Jack Cohen has also much to say about the inadequacy o f the
curriculum, the teacher of the Jewish school, and the teachers’
training schools, many of which are but appendages to “denomi-
national” rabbinic seminaries. He projects the ideal teacher in
whom “reason and imagination supplement one another.” In
the ongoing discussion whether teaching is an art or a science,
he takes the position that both are indispensable and advocates
the training of “artist-scientist” types of teachers who would
instruct and inspire. T o achieve these ends there is need for
drastic changes in the attitude and treatment accorded the Jew-
ish teacher, sometimes referred to as “the Unknown Soldier of
the Jewish Community.” W ithout a consistent national com-
munal effort to provide the needed financial resources and a
wholesome social climate for teaching and administration in
the Jewish school, Jewish education may, sooner than some real-
ize, become an extinct profession.
The full force of Cohen’s commitment to Reconstructionism is
to be found in his emphasis upon the unity of the Jewish people.
In his words, “The oneness of world Jewry is as indispensable
to Judaism as the unity of God, because the unity of the Jewish
people has been basic to its spiritual power. Judaism is what
it is, because the religion of the Jew has been inextricably inter-
twined with the purpose of making his people an eternal one
and a blessing to all men.” It follows that the school is not ful-
filling its responsibility of teaching Judaism if it limits its pro-
gram to a particular theology or ideology w ithout cultivating
in the Jewish child a knowledge of and loyalty to the totality of
the Jewish people. T h e training for an appreciation and love
K la l Israe l
can be best achieved through a communal system of
Jewish education in which, whatever the child’s home or syna­
lum en f ield
— B
ew ish
ducat ion