JUNE 2, 1959
NEW YORK—I was happy to read that on their way back to Geneva the four prime ministers were conferring on the plane and that there was hope for accord on principles. Any accord would be encouraging. And while I realize that for these four men and their associates this is a most tremendous responsibility, I hope they are conscious of the anxiety with which the world waits to hear what they are able to do.
As I looked at the picture of one of the little monkeys encased in the apparatus that was used to send him and another monkey into space and back again, I could not help wondering how much of value we are really going to obtain by all our delving into outer space.
Let us hope that what we learn will be really beneficial to all of us.
I know only too well that one cannot keep people from being curious, and when there are things to be discovered and learned human beings will persevere until this curiosity is satisfied. But I hope, too, that we will not put so much into exploring areas that are far removed from us that we should forget to deal with the problems that are closest to us in our own world.
The other day I received from a woman named Mrs. Daniel Friedman, who is really concerned about young people and the crime rate, an article by Dan Wakefield that appeared in Harper's, June 1958 issue. This piece was titled, "A Tough Bunch of New York Teenagers," and it is about a group who decided to return to "a normal way of life in their neighborhood."
The article points up the difficulties that these youngsters faced, and Mrs. Friedman feels that if enough people in these neighborhoods would get together and see that money was provided so that an award could be made to any group that was making an effort to be useful rather than destructive in its neighborhood that the first need of young people would be filled.
This first need is a meeting place—some room or rooms somewhere that would be their own—and, if possible, a trained person who could cover a number of these clubs and act as a vocational guidance expert. This individual could help find jobs for the boys; he could be a "big brother," in whom they could confide their difficulties; and he could even help them plan good times, which are essential, too, to any group of young people.
This, of course, would be something that should be done on a neighborhood basis. It could not be done as a national undertaking by people out of touch with the needs of particular groups. I cannot help feeling that if some responsible person in every neighborhood would find out if this could be brought about, we might be saved a great deal of juvenile delinquency.
The other day I went to the Community Center run by the Jewish Society for the Deaf, here in New York, which is a nonsectarian social service organization supported by the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies. Social gatherings take place in the community house and the society offers educational and vocational guidance and referrals for job placements.
I had been asked to a very special ceremony—the entrance of candidates for bas mitzvah and bar mitzvah. So I watched with very warm sympathy those totally deaf children taking part—partly through sign language, though some of them were learning to speak quite understandably.