We care for the mentally retarded; what about the spiritually retarded? We extend relief to the financially poor; what about those who are intellectually confused? The revival of religious concern has caught our constitutions by surprise, unprepared, and hardly able to convert concern into commitment, groping into study, vagueness into clarity.
It is our duty to do our utmost in restoring physical health, but it is sinful to ignore the most essential requirement of being a person: the sense of significant being. Our community’s need of thought, understanding, intellectual expansion is profound and urgent. If not satisfied, we will all be bankrupt.
In Jewish social service, the largest task to the largest number is to save us from guilt in squandering the greatest heritage in the world, from failure to convey inner power, love, and understanding to children and youth.
Abraham Joshua Heschel, “Existence and Celebration”, in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity, ed. Susannah Heschel (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1996), 28. Originally delivered as “Existence and Celebration” in Montreal to General Assembly of the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds (New York: Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds, 1965).