THE JEWISH NEWS
Between Two Fires
Incorporating the Detroit Jewish Chronicle commencing with issue of July 20, 1951
Member American Association of English—Jewish Newspapers, Michigan Press Association, National
Published every Friday by The Jewish News Publishing Co., 17100 West Seven Mile Road, Detroit 35,
Mich.. VE 8-9364 Subscription $5 a year. Foreign $6.
Entered as second class matter Aug. 6, 1942 at Post Office, Detroit, Mich. under act of Congress of March
Editor and Publisher
SIDNEY SHMARAK CARMI M. SLOMOVITZ HARVEY ZUCKERBERG
Sabbath Scriptural Selections
This Sabbath, the twenty-sixth day of Tebet, 5721, the following Scriptural selections will
be read in our synagogues:
Pentateuchal portion, Vaera, Ex. 6:2-9:35. Prophetical portion, Ezek. 28:25-29:21.
Licht Benshen, Friday, Jan. 13, 5:06 p. m.
VOL. XXXVIII. No. 20
January 13, 1961
Top on Our Communal Agenda: Our Schools
While there is uninterrrupted recogni-
tion of the need for continued and undi-
minished aid to Israel, and for assistance
to downtrodden Jews in lands of oppres-
sion, there is now an established policy of
giving priority to Jewish educational
All communal programming in this
country now is aimed at advancing the
educational processes, and at providing
the best in cultural services.
Yet, in spite of the earnestness with
which the objectives are pursued, the
means of attaining success in the advance-
ment of Jewish cultural undertakings is
not an easy one.
In some communities, the need is for
more buildings of a modern nature to
match the type of structure in which the
child gets his public school education. In
' other instances, parents have to be in-
duced to send their children to Jewish
schools. Also, there are the problems of
the daily Hebrew school as against the
limited one-day-a-week Sunday School. ,
All of these obstacles fortunately are
being overcome in most instances. What
remains to perplex and to trouble the
Jewish communities is the shortage of
teachers available for Jewish schools and
the continuing tendency on the part of
parents to approve of a minimal time for
studies. It is as a result of the latter that
the Bar Mitzvah has become a terminat-
ing point for studies for our boys, and
either the confirmation or consecration
the conclusion of Jewish studies for girls.
The search for solution to these prob-
lems has become one of the major obliga-
tions of the Jewish educators.
Detroit Jewry is fortunate that the
latter difficulty is being met with com-
mendable courage by our educators.
Under the guidance and inspiration of our
United Hebrew Schools, there already is
in practice a requirement under which a
boy, to become a Bar Mitzvah, must have
had a minimum of three years of Hebrew
studies. Now, the Detroit schools, with
the cooperation of synagogues, are setting
up new requirements, under which, to
become Bar Mitzvah, a boy will have to
acquire a five-year Jewish educatidn.
Under such a plan, there is hope that
"Bar Mitzvah Judaism" will be reduced to
a minimum and there will be a new lease
of life for Jewish educational efforts.
There is one obstacle in the path of
this new program: the so-called fragment
school, conducted by private teachers, or
by non-cooperating synagogues, which en-
courage the made-to-order Bar Mitzvah
ceremonies which offer preparations for
Bar Mitzvah in the shortest possible time,
to suit the desires of some parents. It is
a sort of "Bar Mitzvah Judaism" that com-
petes with normal and wholesome edu-
cational practices and which must be
opposed with the utmost firmness and
earnestness by all of us.
The "fragment" school provides many
handicaps. It interferes with communal
planning. It fails to cooperate in setting up
desirable curicula, it encourages limita-
tion of studies. It is in the best interests
of our communities that there should be
wholesome and recognized communal
school systems, and it is to the credit of
the Jewish community of Detroit that
such a system does exist.
True, there remains the problem
created by the Yeshivah and its claims for
increased communal support. There re-
mains the issue involving the Day Schools.
There is hope, currently entertained, that
the afternoon classes of the Yeshivah will
be merged with the Hebrew Schools,
thereby solving a portion of the Yeshivah
problem. The Day Schools' issue also in-
volves the Hillel Day School, and that
portion of the issue will have to be re-
solved a bit later.
Meanwhile, there remains the most
serious problem of all: that of the short-
age of teachers and the difficulty of ac-
The teacher shortage is so pressing
that Jewish schools in this country have
had to establish an exchange system, to
bring Hebrew teachers to this country on
a temporary basis. Several exceptionally
good instructors have come here as a
result of such a plan. They have brought
their Skill to our community, and have
benefited many people. But such a
system of teachers' exchanges has its
drawbacks. As soon as an able Israeli
instructor becomes integrated into misr
community, he has to go back to Israel,
and the new teachers who come here then
have to grope their way into the scheme
of American customs and to find their
way into the hearts of American students.
While their services are vital, much more
sound and more permanent means must
be found to assure the best teaching staffs
for our Jewish schools.
That is why the idea of a Midrasha,
the College of Jewish Studies, which has
become one of the proud adjuncts of our
Hebrew schools, is so vital to us. But
much more is needed to fulfill the great
need for teachers.
These problems should be given due
consideration when we take into account
the responsibilities we have assumed in
the Allied Jewish Campaign. Included in
the drive's objectives are not only the
overseas and the local causes, but also
several very important _ national move-
ments. Included among them are educa-
tional agencies, like Dropsie College for
Hebrew and Cognate Learning of Phila-
delphia. It is to be hoped that out of these
institutions will come scholars who will
pursue the teaching profession and who
will contribute towards the reduction of
the teacher shortage.
Other means must, however, be found
to solve that problem, and our national
and local agencies should not rest until
the need is filled.
The problem is not limited, of course,
to the Jewish schools. The shortage of
good teachers is a universal problem. That
being the case, the Jewish community's
burdens are all the greater: if it is difficult
to secure a good American public school
teacher, how much more difficult is it to
find a good Jewish teacher?
The problems outlined so far are far
from exhausted. They are multiplying
rather than decreasing.
It is not only the need to educate the
youth that is so vital. There is also the
need to educate the adults, the necessity
for proper adult education programs. All
are linked into a single issue, necessitat-
ing careful planning and firm action.
To solve these problems, vast sums
will be needed. American Jewish commu-
nities. in their vital concern for the best
educational media, will be called upon to
provide necessary means for the support
of the type of school system that will best
serve our purpose. This need will no
doubt be properly filled. Possessing the_
means, our educators must exert their
energies to provide the manpower and
to set up the finest and longest-lasting
educational systems for the training of
our youth and for the creation of well-
informed Jewish constituencies.
'Call It It Sleep' Re-Published ;
Henry Roth Acclaimed by
Geismar, Ribalow and Levin
Only the choicest works by the world's outstanding novelists
merited the treatment now accorded to "Call It Sleep" by Henry
This novel first was published by Ballou in 1932. It has now
been re-published•by Pageant Books -(84 5th, N. Y.)
Its significance, however, is not alone in its having been re-
printed—in a large and very attractive book. The new book, in its
new format merits special attention because of the critical essays
that precede the text of the novel itself.
Maxwell Geismar, one of the most brilliant critics of our time,
is the author of a critical introduction. The history of this novel
and its author's background and present activities as a farmer near
Augusta, Me., is contained in an interesting essay by Harold U.
Ribalow. In addition, there is a personal appreciation of "Call It
Sleep" by another eminent novelist, Meyer Levin.
In its totality, this new book—the novel "Call It Sleep" and
its accompanying evaluating articles—is a treat for lovers of good
The novel itself, Roth's only published novel—he had worked
on another which never was turned over to a printer—depicts life
on New York's East Side as the young author had seen it 25 years
ago. It is a graphic description of family strife that begins the
moment a family is reunited upon the arrival of the wife and son
from Europe. There is brutal d8-3cription of the poverty under which
David Schaergl, the hero of the story, grows to manhood, the
degradation that is felt throughout, the father's suspicion of his
wife, the sadness of conditions in the Hebrew school of the time.
It is when David is taken to a hospital, having been dared into
a fight, and burned on a third-rail track, and then is returned
h6me to find his mother's affection, his father's awakened con-
cern, that there develops the title for the book, as David is asked
by his mother to "go to sleep and forget it all":
"He might as well call it sleep. It was only toward sleep that
tinder of the dark, kindle out of shadowy corners of the bedroom
every wing of the eyelids could strike a spark into the cloudy
such myriad and such vivid jets of images . .."
The novel's power lies in its interpretation of the adaptation
of the immigrants of that time to the new American way of living,
the distortion of English, the forms of conversation, the Yiddish
transliterations. The skill with which Roth absorbed the manner
of speech of the newcomers of that time probably will not be re-
peated again, and "Call It Sleep" must therefore be considered a
classic that preserves the lingual conditions of an era. Besides,
it perpetuates knowledge about the gloomy conditions of a period
in American Jewish history that will be remembered only through
a work like this.
When a full study is made of the evolvement of social conditions
among American Jews, "Call It Sleep" will be one of the chief
means for genuine resource and research. That is why the history
of the novel's emergence, so ably written by Ribalow, is of such
immense importance. Besides, Ribalow takes the reader to Roth's
present abode and reveals the personal life of the brilliant author.
By the same token, Geismar's critical essay is significant.
Geismar points out that in "Call It Sleep," "the use of language is
beautiful, the use of details in the novel is admirable; and these
are the bricks of a novelist's craft."
Meyer Levin's personal appreciation declares: "I know of no
more perceptive work in any literature, dealing with a child's con-
The readers of the re-published "Call It Sleep" will share the
hopes of those commending the novel that its author, Henry 'Roth,
will resume his literary activities and that new works will come
from his skillful pen.