THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS -- Friday, December 15, 1961 --
A Salute to the Detroit Technion Society
Salute to Technion . •
Blundering Rabbi .
stupidity into Jewish folklore stands alone.
It is an acknowledged fact, as we stated last week, that with-
out Hanukah there would have been no chance for monotheism
to survive at that time, and if Judaism had perished Christianity
would not have emerged.
With the survival of Judaism, thanks to the courage of the
Maccabees, the Books of the Maccabees were handed down to us
— and they would have survived in spite of and not because of
Christianity — because Christianity itself is a result of Jewish
existence. This, however, is a subject for theologians — and we
believe that Rabbi Fram would have much to defend in his assump-
tion that the Vulgate Christian Bible has kept alive the memory
of the Maccabees.
The major objection is to the relagating of a "Hanukah bush"
to Jewish folklore. That's a profanation. Such nonsense belongs to
the folklore of vulgarity. It is an abuse of the spiritual honor and
2ultural dignity of our people.
We feel sorry for Rabbi Fram for having committed such
a blunder—and we hope it is merely a thoughtless error on his
tart. We like him very much for his many good qualities, and it
is with regret that we must respond to the challenge contained
in his blundering letter with this repudiation.
The dedicated group that is carrying on the work of the
Detroit Chapter of the American Technion Society, whose
annual dinner will be held next Thursday, deserves recognition
from our entire community.
For more than two decades, this group has not only assisted
the Technion—the Israel College of Technology in Haifa—
financially, but has emulated its work by conducting lectures
for the professional men—engineers, architects and other
scientists—who are affiliated with the society.
The know-how that has been encouraged for Israel through
the local society has become a matter of concern also for those
who are interested in the work of the Technion in this country,
and, as a result, able men have been encouraged to conduct
an exchange of scientists between here and Israel. University
of Michigan scientists have visited Israel at the encouragement
of the Detroit chapter, and its work — which included many
handsome monetary gifts—has served to inspire an inter-change
of ideas and interests between the United States and Israel.
Those attending Thursday's dinner should have these
facts in mind. They will have cause to feel proud of their par-
ticipation in a most commendable American effort in behalf
of our own country—as a result of the inter-change of ideas
—as well as of Israel.
The Death Penalty in Jewish Tradition
While the three-justice court in Jerusalem already has read
Fridtjof Nansen--His 'Passports' Gave Dignity to Refugees into the record its verdict against Adolf Eichmann, the question
When Fridtjof Nansen, the Norwegian humanitarian, was that still is puzzling many is: will the Nazi criminal be .given the
appointed by the ill-fated League of Nations as its first High death penalty?
Commissioner for Refugees, in 1921, he came to grips with a
Early in 1954, the Knesset, Israel's Parliament, by a vote of
serious problem, and he tackled it with wisdom and dignity, and 61 to 33 adopted the: currently-functioning law abolishing the death
it won for him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1922.
penalty for murder and retaining it only for high treason and for
Nansen realized, 40 years ago, that there were stateless crimes committed by the Nazis. Under the existing regulations,
refugees who could not travel anywhere and who were unable to Eichmann could be condemned to death. Yet, one must turn to
secure employment, because they had become stateless. He there- established traditions to get the full impact of Jewish - attitudes
upon proposed that passports be issued to these stateless refugees on the question of capital punishment, and doubt then enters as
so that they might enter new lands, in spite of having lost citizen- to whether the extreme penalty can possibly be envisioned in a
ship in the countries of their birth.
There is no denying the fact that capital punishment existed
That is how the famous Nansen Passport came into being. It
saved the lives of tens of thousands of people, and that passport and was practiced by ancient Israel. In the Pentateuchal Codes
remains to this day one of the most humanitarian of historic docu- will be found prescriptions of the death penalty for witchcraft,
ments. There still are refugees today who hold the Nansen Pas-s- adultery, murder and even minor crimes, such as disrespect for
parents and for social amenities.
ports as -symbols of having been given a new lease on life.
In Exodus-21:12-16 and 22:17-19; in Leviticus-20:9-; and
On the occasion of the current observance of the one hundredth
anniversary of his birth, the entire world should remember the in Deuteronomy-13:2-16, 1'7:2-7 and 21:18-21, will be found many
name of Fridtjof Nansen and remain in awe at the very mention referenceS to the- death penalty in Biblical times.
There is an account of 3,000 Israelites who wereput to death
for worshipping the Golden Calf in Exodus 32:28. Capital punish-
ment was meted out for desecrating the Sabbath, for blasphemy
The Name Calling Arab 'Statesmen'
Ahmad Shukairy, Saudi Arabia's delegate to the• United Na- and for covetousness.
tions, found enough venom in his system to speak for five hours
. But theSe practices have become archaeological. Under rabbinic
in his attack not only upon Israel but also upon Christian fellow- law, capital punishment became obsolete. When Jewish jurispru-
dence was put into practice under ancient Jewish statehood, -rabbis
members of the great international organization.
Michael S. Comay sized him up corre•tly -when he said that objected to any form of death penalty. Some 1900 ye -ars ago, Rabbi
Shukairy's long attack could be summed up in four words: "Israel Akiba, the founder of rabbinic Judaism and the systematizer of
must be eliminated." There is no doubt that the vast majority of Jewish law, and Rabbi Tarohon stated: "If we had been members
the UN delegates felt as Comay did—that Shukairy's was an "ugly of a Beth Din (court of law) — the Synhedrion — there would
never have been a death sentence."
and distorted. image of Israel."
Thus, in the course of the development of Jewish law, dating
The pay-off came when Shukairy first attacked Dr. Joseph E.
Johnson, the American representative who was sent on a special back more than 2;000 years, certain basic rules were established,
as a result of which capital punishment became a rarity. Careful
mission to the Middle East and who reported on
scrutinization of witnesses was introduced. Near relatives of accused,
his findings regarding the Palestine Conciliation
gamblers, those who were known to be of bad character, were
Commission; and then proceeded to berate Prof.
prevented from offering evidence. Even those of unimpeachable
Enrique Rodriguez' Fabregat, whom he described
charaCter had to listen to lectures on the seriousness of testimony,
as a Jew who called 'himself a Uruguayan but
when a person's life was involved, moral pressure thus being used
who really was an exile, a refugee or a citizen of
to induce the withdrawal of doubtful and possibly inadmissible
Prof. Fabregat found it nedessary to assert
A typical instance is that of Rabbi Simeon ben Shatah, a first
that he was at the UN to serve his. country,
century Pharisaic teacher, who had personally witnessed a homicide
"governed by my Spanish, Christian ancestors, by
but could not produce another eye-witness to confirm his testimony,
my own position as a Christian and by my
and his charge against the murderer was withdrawn. It was thus
thoughts as a Christian." Prof. Fabregat admon-
established that more than one witness was needed to prove a
ished his fellow-delegates not to submit to the
crime, and - capital punishment became more and more obsolete.
venemous thinking of the . Saudi-Arabian by
A great Jewish scholar of the second century, Eleazar ben
"My Christian concepts — which govern my daily life — Azariah, modified an established Jewish principle which stated
that "a court that puts one man to death in seven years is called
determine every stand which I take and compel me always to
`destructive' " by adding: "even one in seventy years." This has
be respectful of every type of religious or ,philosophical belief
become a basic principle in Jewish life. There have been dissenters,
. . . I believe we can no longer listen to the sort of language
which was used here this morning. It is much more fitting to but basically this has become a principle in Jewry, and opponents
of capital punishment in civilized countries have always counted
Jewish leaders and scholars among their chief supporters.
Known for his courage and for his sense of justice, Prof.
In the draft constitution of the State of Israel there appears
Fabregat's statement should go a long way in disspelling some the following declaration:
of the misunderstandings that may have developed as a result of
"The State shall ensure the sanctity of human life and uphold
the poisonous Arabian attacks. Shukairy gave ammunition to the the dignity of man. There shall be no penalty of death, nor shall
anti-Semites and to the destructive rightist elements who are now anyone be subjected to torture, flogging, or humiliating punishment."
building up a case against decency in this and in other countries.
Opponents of capital punishment point to an almost universal
He used the UN as a platform for hatred. Let us anticipate a abhorrence of the death penalty. Among the great jurists who de-
proper rebuke to him and his cohorts from the United Nations.
clared themselves emphatically on the subject was the late U. S.
Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo who stated:
"The- next generation may look upon the death penalty as an
.Rabbi Fram's Amazing Blunders'.
Last week's comment about the blunders of the Detroit. anachronism too discordant to be suffered, mocking with grim
News church editor were made out of a desire to set the record reproach all our clamorous professions of the sanctity of life."
Two• years ago, the New York Board of Rabbis, composed of
straight, to point out that a -church editor should check on facts
and not be placed in the position of Gertrude Berg who last year . rabbis representing all factions in Jewish life, adopted the follow-
found it. necessary to apologize for giving credence to such a ing as part of an agenda for humanitarian legislation:
" 'The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away,' and, therefore,
profanation as the "Hanukah bush" nonsense. But Rabbi Leon
Fram, the elder among the rabbis in Detroit in point of service it is. not within the power of fallible man to pass judgment on life
in this community, finds it necessary not only to uphold his own and death on his brother ... "
Established Jewish traditions and practices are contra capital
unrealistic approach to Hanukah, but also to defend the News'
punishment. The oft-referred-to eye-for-an-eye cruelty inherent in
church editor for perpetuating an insult to Jewish dignity.
We are publishing Rabbi Fram's letter in full to give him the lex talionis has. been misinterpreted and exaggerated, for,
the full benefit of the doubt. But it also gives him a lengthy according to Jewish interpretation, IexT.talionis must be judged
rope on which to hang for. stating that "the `Chanuko bush' in the value of the loss of an eye or a tooth ; to be assessed by
has become part of American Jewish folklore." That's untrue! qualified judges, rather than the literary interpretation.
Will the attitudes of Jewry and the established principles of
The rabbi might just as well have said that the stage comedians
have derided and insulted Jews for years, before the anti- rabbinic law affect the judgement in Jerusalem? No one is able
defamation groups stepped in to put an end to ridicule, are to guess with positiveness what the verdict will be in Jerusalem
part of Jewish folklore. He might as well say that "kike" is part at the end of the final summations today; yet, precedent may
of folklore. He could go on and say that "chazir" and everything have its effects—and precedent in Jewish history is in opposition
that is forbidden in Jewish life is folklore. But whoever says to the death penalty, even under conditions of such cruelties as
that stands alone. Whoever introduced the 'Hanukah bush" have been perpetrated by Nazis.
of Lies, Exposes
Himself at UN
By SAUL CARSON
Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Inc.)
UNITED NATIONS, N. Y.—
All the dire predictions made
here in the past about the vi-
ciousness of the anti-Israel cam-
paign to be launched this year
by the Arabs participating in
the current Arab refugee debate
have turned out to be mere
underitatements. The fact is
much worse than the prognosis.
The actuality is stranger than
falsehoods spread here loudly,
verbosely and in absolute dis-
regard of all decency by all of
the Arab delegates, including
their chief calumniator, Ahmad
Shukairy of Saudi Arabia. One
must be here to encompass it
to believe it all.
In a way, Shukairy is a gift,
given gratis to Israel. The more
he talks, the louder he shouts,
the more convinced are many
delegates that he is covering
falsehoods with noise. One is
reminded of a story told several
years ago by Dr. Victor Andres
Belaunde, of Peru, then presi-
dent of the Assembly. A dele-
gate showed Dr. Belaunde the
draft of a speech he was to de-
liver. Dr. Belaunde marked one
section of the speech with the
marginal note: "loud, Louder,
loud." When asked by the dele-
gate for the meaning of the
note, the -Peruvian jurist re-
plied: "Because, here, your.
arguments are weakest." Shu-
kairy, however, does not need
such advice. He is the master
of the lie, the fanciful export at
trying to cover falsehood with
frightening explosions — which,
however, fail to frighten anyone,
much less Israel.
Continues in Turkish
ISTANBUL, (JTA) — The
anti-Semitic campaign pursued
for some time now by the
satiric weekly magazine, - Kari-
katur, is continuing here with
the publication of the latest
issue, containing a half-dozen
anti - Semitic articles and car-
The main thesis of the mater-
ial in Karikatur was that Turk-
ish Jews, as well as Greeks and
Armenians here, are not en-
titled to full citizenship rights
accorded Moslems. The minor-
ity groups are also accused of
engaging in black market ac-
An editorial in the weekly
Jewish newspaper, S h a 1 o m,
counter-attacked against Kari-
katur. Shalom affirmed that _
Jews here have the same rights
to vote for the parties of their
choice as Moslems have.
"All we want," stated the edi-
torial, "is that this distinction
(between Jews and Moslems)
end, and that everyone under-
stand that we have the same
national ideals and spirit pos-
sessed by the others."
Morocco Leader Asks
Algerian Jews to Live
in Trust With Moslems
(JTA)—David Amar, secretary-
general of the Moroccan Jewish
Communities, addressed a plea
to Jews in .Algeria asking them
to reconsider their views about
the possibility of continuing
their life in a "free Algeria"
after their independence is at
He expressed the hope that
Algerian Jews would find it pos-
sible to live "in an atmosphere
of trust with those among whom
they have been living for 2,000
years." At the same time, Amar
demanded that Algerian authori-
ties rule out religious discrimina-
tions in an independent Algeria.