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Reform-Jewish Schools Endorsed

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While reiterating their support for a strong public-education system, leaders of the nation's Reform Jewish movement have for the first time endorsed the establishment of Jewish day schools.

At a meeting in Los Angeles early this month, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the central body of Reform Judaism and a longtime advocate of public education, voted by a 2-to-1 margin to support the development of full-time, self-supporting Jewish schools as an educational option for parents.

The day-school resolution endorses offering the country's some 250,000 Reform Jewish students "an alternative which integrates secular and Jewish studies while reflecting the social, pedagogic, and religious values of our movement."

To encourage the development of such day schools, the 3,000 leaders agreed to set religious and educational standards and goals for them, according to the resolution. The Union of American Hebrew Congregations will prepare curricula and materials for the full-time schools.

"There are parents who, regardless of the quality of public schools available, would prefer a more in-tensive full-time Jewish education for their children," the resolution states. "They should have more than a choice between Orthodox and Con-servative Jewish schools."

The resolution also notes that there are parents who for academic reasons want to place their children in private schools and that Reform Jewish schools should be an option.

The Orthodox and Conservative branches of American Judaism already have well-developed day-school systems.

Support for Public Schools

Reaffirming the Reform Jewish movement's support of public schools, the resolution calls for increased federal support for public education and states: "It is incumbent upon the Jewish community to be deeply involved in the struggle to strengthen and reinvigorate our public-school system." The resolution also reiterates the movement's opposition to tuition tax credits for parents of private-school students.

Leaders of the task force that drafted the resolution predicted it would not have much effect on public schools because the movement expects to have only about 35 day schools nationwide by 1990. Currently, 11 Reform Jewish day schools operate in the United States and Canada. The resolution also supports "the continuation of effective school-integration programs," and opposes efforts to incorporate prayer into public schools.--er

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