19 March 2006

Interesting Excerpt From BBYO Report

Tonight, I typed up and published online four pages of Dr. Max F. Baer's 1975 report as International Director of BBYO, which was printed almost exactly thirty years ago (3 April 1976). Why did I bother with that and why am I bothering to blog about it? The initial answer was that I found in his words some good and important things for BBYOers to consider. However, while typing up the piece, I realized that there were things of general Jewish importance, as well. I definitely recommend it.
One thing that's interesting about it is getting somewhat of a picture of Jewish youth thirty years ago, as well as of general culture.
The excerpt which had initially struck me was the following (to be found on the third of the four pages):

The raison d’ĂȘtre of BBYO, for example, is that the movement represents specific standards of ethical and moral conduct, that the joiner enters into a contract with the movement to make its values his/her own values. Aleph Zadik Aleph was envisaged by its pioneers as an institution for character building through the interaction of the membership under the guidance of model leaders. The process by which a task was accomplished was considered as important as the task itself. Grand Aleph G’dolim, in their Shofar columns and oral messages to the membership, reveled in stories of exemplary conduct by individual members.

However, there were some other good quotes about the Jewish people in general, as well:
Our concern is whether Jewish commitment and identity represent simply affiliation with a people or active involvement with its aspirations and internalization of its values. Organizations of Jews must not only be task-oriented assemblages of Jews. They must stand for the values that have made the Jewish people a distinctive force in the history of humankind. They must act out, not simply profess belief in these values. The leadership of Jewish organizations, both lay and professional, must serve as role models for the members. The process of decision-making must reflect the highest ideals of Judaic thought, not those of the market place.

He also
has the following to say on Jewish education:
Jewish education must embrace the cognitive and the visceral – knowledge and emotion. They are equally important aspects of Jewish commitment. Basic Jewish knowledge, when we find it in a youth, is nurtured in the home and in the Jewish school – institutions which hold the child for major blocks of time. However most young Jewish people emerge from these experiences with abysmal ignorance of Jewish life and thought. Chanukah, for example, means no more than a Jewish holiday held at the same time as Christmas, with an exchange of gifts and the lighting of candles. There is no cure for Jewish illiteracy in homes without Jewish books, Jewish music, Jewish art, or Jewishly knowledgeable parents. There is no cure for Jewish illiteracy in Jewish schools without qualified teachers, meaningful curricula, and students old enough to understand that undergirding the battles of the Maccabees was the never-ending struggle between Hellenism and Judaism, tyranny and liberty.
I hope people use his words well.
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2 comments:

In the Lee of the Wind said...

Somehow, It isn't just jewish literacy that keeps people jewish, becuase then he would be hard pressed to explain the Jewish drop-out rate.

Sarah Lefton said...

Sure, but without Jewish literacy, all those rituals and lifecycle events ring kinda hollow and lose their luster,