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March 27, 1964 - Image 2

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Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1964-03-27

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Friday, March 2 7, 1964 — THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Purely Commentary

There will be much joy in many homes tonight, as the Jewish families re-
gather for the first Seder night to welcome the Passover and to acclaim our
traditional dedication to the cause of liberty and justice for all peoples.
Passover and the traditional Seder have been abused in some literary
quarters. Perhaps the Jewish novelists who, we believe, were straying from our
ranks, really were describing the abusive manner in which the Seder ceremony
had been observed in many homes where ignorance dwelt more securely than
knowledge upon which our customs are based.
Hopefully, there are evidences of improvements and of as much interest in
the Haggadah as in the matzoh balls. Nevertheless, Passover does raise the issue
of freedom—whether Jews are able and willing to survive under freedom, having
proven through the centuries that they can defy bigotry and conquer over anti-
Semites. It is in our generation that this question may have to be answered.
Other questions arise at this time. There is the challenge to us from many
quarters where Jews are referred to abusively as having failed to resist tyranny
under the Nazis. One of the answers to this taunt is the spiritual aspect of
Jewish life: our abhorrence of bloodshed, our revulsion over the very thought of
rendering harm anywhere to anyone.
In their classic "Rabbinic Anthology" (now available as a Jewish Publication
Society-Meridian World Publishing Co. paperback), C. G. Montefiore and H. Loewe
dealt with an interesting subject in relation to Passover. Referring to the
blood-theme and the emphasis upon it in Christianity, the two authors state:
"Owing to the fact that Jewish sentiment bans pictorial representations in
worship, while Christian sentiment regards them as devotional aids, it has come
about that the Christian worshipper, by means of pictures and reliefs, is made
familiar with the suffering, death and blood of the crucifixion story in forms
that are sometimes exceedingly realistic. There is absolutely nothing to cor-
respond to this on the Jewish side, and the connection of blood with worship
is utterly inconceivable to a Jew.
"True, on Passover night we repeat the words of Akiba the Martyr, who,
praying for the Messianic advent, besought God that our eyes might behold the
blood of animals dripping at the rebuilt altar. The prayer is too old, too deeply
fraught with meaning, to be dropped as the Liberals do. But we say it in a
different sense, giving the words the main, the wider meaning which their author
intended. In this there is no intellectual dishonesty .. ."
The two scholars elaborate on the theme further by stating:
"We must remember that when we are considering martyrdom, be it
Jewish or Christian, the blood-theme may 'be used as a vivid expression of
the ultimate truth of a consecration of a life to God even at the cost of
death.' These words, cited already previously, are those of Canon Knox, who
has kindly discussed this point with me. He goes on to say, 'In Christian
devotion it would be easy to find expressions in art or language which might
suggest a morbid concentration on the horror of blood. Actually, these are
no more than conventional expressions.' This view of Canon Knox seems,
if one may say so, eminently sound. It is akin, on the Jewish side, to what
some may hold today, who take Akiba's words in the Passover Service in
their literal sense. But it is not the only view. Several of my Christian friends
feel that such representations as that in Walsingham do imply an undue
emphasis on blood. It is noteworthy that Jewish art—which is, in the main,
verbal—eschews blood. The poetical dirges recounting the deaths of martyrs
narrate them without elaboration. The iron combs that tore Akiba's flesh
from him are mentioned in the `Eleh' Ezkerah but details are left to the
imagination. Pictures or reliefs of them would be unthinkable. Even when
the sentence on criminals—such as Haman's ten sons are assumed to be—is

Leivick's 'Jews, You Must Not Despair'

The Warsaw ghetto revolt was one of the most notable demon-
strations of resistance by Jews against the Nazi terror.
There was despair then, and there often undoubtedly creeps
in a feeling of anxiety over our existence in the struggle against
the antagonisms that had embittered the lives of millions of Jews.
The late H. Leivick, one of the great Yiddish poets of our
generation, pleaded that there should not be a loss of faith, in
a poem he entitled "Gvald, Yiddn, Zait Zich Nit Meyaesh"—
"Gvald, Jews, Do Not Despair." It speaks for itself and we
offer it here, in a translation by E. S. Goldsmith, as a bolsterer
to faith, without comment:
Gvald, Jews, You must not des-pair!
Thus proclaimed the Jews of Warsaw
In their unheard of uprising.
They proclaimed,
They wrote the words,
They hung the inscription
In houses, in yards,
In places of learning—
To the Ten Commandments an Eleventh Commandment:
Gvald, Jews, You must not despair!
What is its meaning, this word Gvald?
The word Gvald here means: Forever.
Not once Forever,
But seven times seven Forever.

They had rifles, too—
The Jews of Warsaw,
And bullets, grenades—
The Jews of Warsaw.
They fired,
They struck—
The Jews of Warsaw;
And blessed be
Every Jewish bullet
That pierced
The heart of a Nazi.
But doubly blessed be
The inscription of six small words—
To the Ten Commandments an Eleventh Commandment:
Gvald, Jews, You must not despair!

The rifles had bullets
And the bullets ran out,
Vey, ran out.
The Nazi, the German, had more.
Vey, had more:
Had bombs,
Had cannon,
Had airplanes.
The Germans silenced everything,
But not the six small words—
To the Ten Commandments the Eleventh Commandment:
Gvald, Jews, You must not des-pair!
What is its meaning, this word Gvald?
The ward Gvald means Forever.
Not once Forever,
But seven times seven Forever.

Many Aspects of the Traditions of
Passover . . Leivick's "Do not
Despair" . . . Israel and Zionism

By Philip

.

Slomovitz

carried out, so far from there being any gloating, the reader has to rush
the sentence through in one breath. Such a phrase as 'the blood is the life'
is not the motif of hymns. Here and there, in a stray Selihah on the Day of
Atonement, one may come upon such a thought as 'May my flesh and fat,
diminished by fasting, be accounted as a burnt offering.' But such ideas are
few and far between. They belong to the hymnal and have no authority:
they are due to the taste prevailing in the Middle Ages, when they were
written, and they may be—and often are—dropped today."
Conceding that there were instances in the Old Testament of rejoicing over
the death of the wicked, Drs. Montefiore and Loewe nevertheless also point to
the following:
"To this day the Hallel is abbreviated on Passover in accordance with Prov.
xxiv, 17 . . . Midrash Proverbs (on xxv, 21: 'If thine enemy be hungry, feed him')
has 'even if he be coming to slay thee . .. then God will reconcile him to thee.'
Similarly, in reading the Book of Esther on Purim, the execution of the ten sons
of Haman is rushed through in one breath: The reason given in Meg. 166 is
inadequate; no doubt the object was to hurry over an unpleasant bit of history.
For in the same way, only the initials of the Ten Plagues and not the whole
words were inscribed on the Rod of Moses (Exod. R., Shemot, v 6, viii, 3) and
only the initials are recited in the domestic service of the Passover (for the
usual explanations of this, see Abudarham in loc.) With one exception the
`imprecatory Psalms' are absent from the synagogue liturgy, and even that
exception does not apply to the Ashkenazi rite: the psalm in question, 'By the
waters of Babylon,' is read silently in the Sephardic rite, before evening service
opens on the Ninth of Al), an occasion when the Psalm is so appropriate that it
can hardly be ignored. But many omit the last verses."
There is a most interesting item in the memoirs of David Ben-Gurion, now
being compiled by the former Prime Minister of Israel, that throws additional
light on the matter of terrorism and murderous retaliations by Jews. The former
Prime Minister's recollections now appearing in Jewish Observer and Middle East
Review of London contain many errors in the references to American Jews and
to the Zionists in this country. But there is much in them that will remain
historically indelible, and among such items is the recapitulation of the discus-
sions that were conducted regarding Arab-Jewish relations, the White Paper,
the attitude of Palestinian (pre-Israel) Jews toward the British Mandatory power,
etc., in recalling the discussions that were held by Zionist leaders, Ben-Gurion
reported:
"Ussishkin (the late Menahem Ussishkin who was the world president
of the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael—the Jewish National Fund) categorically
opposed terrorism on moral grounds. 'If I were told,' he said, 'that if five
Arabs were killed tomorrow the -White Paper would be withdrawn, I would
be against the murder of Arabs.' He said there were no differences of
opinion within the Zionist Organization of self-defense, even if it was a
matter of 'active self-defense'."
These and many similar historic facts attest to the position taken by Jews
throughout our history in matters involving extremism, murders, inhumanities.
There were retaliatory steps against Arab terrorism in Israel, but these were
exceptions to the established rules. The peace-loving elements, the seekers for
just actions based on negotiations always predominated and often prevailed.
In principle, we are contra the blood-theme. We are for peace, for liberty
for all. That's the major theme of Passover, and as we gather at the Sedorim, as
we usher in the Passover, we strive for the perpetuation of this theme, we hope
to be able to pass on the great moral principles to our children. If we succeed,
the major crisis involving survival will have been overcome.

Zionism: Israel's Link with World Jewry

Israel's Prime Minister Levi Eshkol is a realist. Evaluating with the anti-Semitism of Henry
his nation's burdens in tackling the immigration problem and Ford. But the authors do refer
the difficulties encountered in creating a united people out of
the many who come from numerous countries, he took into to Fritz Hailer, who was a no-
account, in an address he delivered in Jerusalem last week, torious German consul in De-
the need for retaining a strong tie between Israeli Jews and the troit during the early years of
Jewish communities in the free countries of the world. There- Hitlerism, and this item calls for
upon he suggested that the Zionists should form that link further elaboration. The au-
and he stated:
thors state:
"There is only one address to which we can turn. We
"Hitler was taking cognizance
must turn to the World Zionist movement, the vital link for
Israel and Zionism. Within this framework, we have the op- of the new Ford organization in
portunity of developing new efforts and activities. The work Germany, and it may have been
of furtherance of cultural and fraternal interests in the coun-
tries of the Diaspora should be the central interest of our responsible for the award to
Henry Ford on his 75th birth-
Nation.
"If we sit idly by today, the day will come when we will day, July 30, 1938, of the Grand
ask ourselves the question: Why didn't we do something Cross of the German Eagle,
when we could have? Why didn't we worry about tomorrow? which he accepted in Dearborn
We must give the Jewry of the diaspora a chance to fulfill from Fritz Hailer, the German
its great opportunity, we must give it the emotional and vice consul. A storm of disap-
proval in America distressed
intellectual stimulus to achieve its destiny."
Unlike his predecessor, Prime Minister Eshkol is pragmatic. Ford, and he maintained stoutly
He knows that an instrument is -needed for the serious task, and that he accepted the decoration
he has pinpointed Zionism as the means of keeping world Jewry from the German peeople. He
was still firmly convinced at
united. It is an indisputably practical approach.
At the meetings of the Zionist General Council in Jerusalem this time that there would be no
last week, world leaders, including American spokesmen, indi- war in Europe. Others did not
cated that there is an urgent need not only to strengthen Zionist share his faith: Germany had
ranks but at the same time to increase activities in the direction taken Austria, and there was
of fusing the cooperative spirit that must link Israel with the growing unrest when conditions
Diaspora. Better results may be obtainable now, in view of the in Czechoslovakia led to the
recognition of the extent of the indifference that has set in as capitulation of Chamberlain at
well as the need for more effective means of overcoming the Munich in September."
assimilatory spirit that threatens the continuity of a Jewish crea-
The reviewer is compelled to
tive existence.
judge this as a whitewash of
* * *
Henry Ford Sr. If it was the in-
terest in the growing Ford or-
Authors of Wayne State University Book
ganization that induced Ford to
Accused of Exonerating the Auto Magnate
Wayne State University's new volume, "American Business accept the Hitler medal, then
Abroad: Ford on Six Continents," by Mira Wilkins and Frank it was a matter of "strictly busi-
Ernest Hill, is a most interesting review of the expansion of the ness" with the auto magnate—
Ford empire, its spread in many lands, its acceptance on the and the authors of this book
should have said so. If he was
six continents.
In his introduction, the eminent historian, Allan Nevins, distressed, he could have re-
jected the "honor." But he knew
states:
"This book interestingly shows how Ford experience over- that it was not a gift from the
seas mirrored a wide variety of national demands and responded German people but from Hitler
to a long gamut of world dangers over the years. It is an effective and he was arrogant when he
contribution to 20th century economic history from Denmark to was urged to return the medal
Peru, from the days of Theodore Roosevelt to those of Sir and insisted on keeping it.' Two
or three years later he even
Winston Churchill."
The authors make numerous references to Ford experiences blamed the Jews for the Hitler-
in Germany. As a commentary of the development of the automo- made war on mankind and the
bile industry and the parallel emergence of German cars, this Jewish people. How can anyone
is a most interesting bok.
possibly exonerate that man and
There was no occasion, of course, to deal in this volume absolve him from guilt?

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