The Jewish Community (Kehillah) is doing work far exceeding anything that Christians have done in the way of religious education. It has established 181 schools of religion, for children in attendance at the public schools, in which 40,000 children are enrolled. In other forms instruction in religion is given to 25,000 children. Thus out of 275,000 Jewish children in the public schools 23.5 per cent. receive week-day instruction in religion. Energetic efforts are made to reach the remaining 210,000. The pupils have from one to four periods each week, after school hours, each period lasting from one to two hours. The total sum annually expended by the Jews for week-day instruction in religion is approximately $1,400,000.
From “The Jewish Communal Register of New York City, 1917-1918, [tr. note: no close quote for title in original] we quote as follows:
“In the typical week day school, the number of hours of instruction given to each child varies from 6 1/2 hours in the lowest grade to 9 1/2 hours in the seventh or highest grade. . . . The total teaching staff consists of 615 teachers, of whom about 23 per cent. are women. The salary of teachers ranges from $300 to $1,200 per year. The average salary is $780 annually for 22 hours’ work during the week.”
The Jews ask for no concession of time from the public school. They seem to have physical and intellectual vigor enabling them to utilize, for the study of religion, hours which Christian children require for rest and recreation.
Lutherans hold that it is the function of the church to provide instruction in religion for its children. What are the Lutherans of New York doing to maintain this thesis? Over 40,000 children of enrolled Lutheran families obtain no instruction in religion except that which is given in the Sunday School and in the belated and abbreviated hours of catechetical instruction.
A movement is now going on in this city and throughout the United States aiming at a restoration of religious education to the functions of the church. For the sake of our children ought we not heartily to cooperate with a movement which so truly represents the principles for which we stand? It will require a considerable addition to the teaching force of our churches. It will mean an expensive reconstruction of our schoolrooms. It will cost money. But it will be worth while.
The Problem of Lapsed Lutherans
There are four hundred thousand lapsed Lutherans in New York, nearly three times as many as enrolled members of the churches.
A lapsed Lutheran is one who was once a member, but for some reason has slipped the cable that connected him with the church. He still claims to be a Lutheran but he is not enrolled as a member of a particular congregation.
Most lapsed Lutherans are of foreign origin. From figures compiled by Dr. Laidlaw (see “Federation,” Vol. 6, No. 4), we obtain the number of Protestants of foreign origin, enumerated according to the country of birth of parents, one parent or both. The number of Lutherans we obtain by subtracting from the “Protestants” the estimated number of non-Lutherans. Thus: