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May 01, 1964 - Image 4

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Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1964-05-01

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THE JEWISH NEWS

Incorporating The Detroit Jewish Chronicle commencing with issue

Uncle Sam Knows Better

of July 20, 1951

Member American Association of English—Jewish Newspapers, Michigan Press Association, National Editorial
Association.
Published every Friday by The Jewish News Publishing Co., 17100 West Seven Mile Road, Detroit 48235 Mich.,
VE 8-9364. Subscription $6 a year. Foreign $7.
Second Class Postage Paid at Detroit, Michigan

PHILIP SLOMOVITZ

CARMI M. SLOMOVITZ

Editor and Publisher

SIDNEY SHMARAK

Business Manager

Advertising Manager

CHARLOTTE I-LYAMS

City Editor

Sabbath Scriptural Selections
This Sabbath., the twentieth day of Iyar, the following Scriptural selections will be read in our
synagogues.
Pentateuchal portion: Levit. 21:1-24:23. Prophet ical portion: Ezekiel 44:15-31.

Licht Benshen, Friday, May 1, 7:13 p.m.

VOL. XLV., No. 10

Page Four

May 1, 1964

Intermarriage and theValues of Jewish Family Life

In an evaluation of Jewry's responsibili-
ties in efforts for dignified survival, our Com-
mentary last Hanukah emphasized that "we
need a new rededication — and in our day
the home must again become the temple and
the stnctity of family life must be elevated
above all else."
Intermarriage is now being studied as
one of the most serious problems facing our
people, and the most impressive work of
research on the subject, to be issued during
the coming few days by Beacon Press, points
to the dangers in the growing number of
mixed marriages and calls for action to stem
its tide. It is the impressive study, "Inter-
marriage — Interfaith, Interracial, Inter-
ethnic," by Rabbi Albert I. Gordon.
In this survey, there is a warning of the
spread of "secularization of marriage and of
family life" resulting from "removal of sacred
sanctions from behavior," and Rabbi Gordon
declares that "the traditional association of
the family with such sacred sanctions is
breaking down or, at the very least, weaken-
ing."

*

While considering the problems that
emerge from the growing number of inter-
marriages, it is important that we take into
consideration again the danger that lies in
a breakdown of family life and its sanctity.
The weakening of religious ties, the fact that
one-fourth of all marriages in this country
are now performed by civil ceremonies, point,
as Rabbi Gordon states, to "an increasing
degree of indifference to all organized re-
ligions."
While the problem is not Jewry's alone
but that of other faiths and ethnic groups,
the manner in which family life is endangered
in our ranks must be viewed with the utmost
seriousness.
Rabbi Gordon qualified his warnings with
an explanation that "intermarriage is not
always an act of rebellion against parents
or their values"; that they "are not the result
of defiance, revolt, rebellion, hostility. They
are rather the product of urbanization, mo-
bility, propinquity and other such factors that
play so significant a role in our society." Yet,
the author of the study of intermarriage
conditions and problems does indicate that
there is a measure of rebellion. He states in
his very important book:

"We live in an 'Age of Rebellion' when the con-
servative values of parents, Church and Syna-
gogues are often opposed with great vigor by our
young people. We are witnesses to something more
than the age-old conflict between the generations.
The spirit of rebellion has never gone quite so far
or manifsted itself so strongly as it has since
World War IL The reasons therefore go beyond
the matter of emancipation of young people from
parental and family controls. They seem to have
some direct relationship to the kind of world. youth
feels it has inherited." And the author quotes this
statement by one of the youth he had interviewed
to illustrate the psychology of the youth of today:
"Why should I listen to the advice my folks give
me? What have they done to make me feel that
their advice is any good? All I have inherited
from them is a world filled with anxiety and fear,
a world of A-bombs and H-bombs--a world of
fall-out and bomb shelters, a world either at war
or on the brink of war. I can't do any worse by
following my own ideas than my parents have
done."

Such views can not be taken lightly. If
the family's observances are limited to a
three-day-a-year religious observance that is
now being reduced to a two- or one-day-a-year
of sanctity; if the Sabbath Eve has lost its
significance and the Sabbath itself is not
properly sanctified, what hope is there for
parents who demand more from their chil-
dren than they have :themselves set as an
example as members of a religious commu-
nity?
* * *
In his discussion of the issue last Ha-

nukah, The Jewish News Commentator
quoted this incident:
More than 25 years ago, the brilliant short

story writer and poet, the eminent Hebrew
educator, A. H. (Hes Aleph) Friedland, of Cleve-
land, wrote a Hebrew short story in which he
described a stroll through a Jewish neighborhood
on a Friday night. But for a very few exceptions
which showed families gathered around festive
tables, with candles lit, books open, tunes of tra-
ditional songs echoing the Sabbath — except for
a very few such isolated instances, all he saw in
home after home through unshuttered windows,
were men and women at card tables, fortified by
cocktails. This has gone on for a long time. The
playing cards have replaced the Torah. The Friday
night and the Sabbath spirit have been abandoned.

This admonition remains a valid warning
against the breakdown of family observances,
and it is part of the clarion call to our people
that if we wish to preserve our existence we
must do it by remaining active participants in
Jewish traditional life.
*
*
Fortune Magazine published an article in
1954 in which it was pointed out that 29 per
cent of the most distinguished American
scientists were Jews, although Jews are only
3 per cent of the population of this country;
that Catholics, who are 16 per cent of the
population, contributed only 5 per cent to
scientific leaders, and the comment was that
"they had all lost their faith."
While the Fortune writer may have gen-
eralized a bit off the mark in the assertion
regarding loss of faith, that article may have
accounted for an editorial that appeared
nearly 10 years later in the Catholic Weekly
America, in which the lack of Einsteins and
Salks among Catholics was discussed and in
which the following views were expressed:

The question "where are our Catholic
Einsteins, Oppenheimers and Salks?" is a legiti-
mate one. But more basic is the question, "Where
are the Catholic parents who feel it is important
— for the church, for our country and for man-
kind itself — to have Catholic Einsteins, Oppen-
heimers and Salks?"
The rate of outstanding scientists with Jewish
background might be explained by the scholarly
tradition frequently observed among Jews. The
absence of an equivalent scholarly tradition in a
high percentage of American Catholic families
might also explain, to a degree, the near absence,
of Catholic-born scientists in the survey group.
The example of the Jewish people clearly
shows the importance of the home in the produc-
tion of scholars. In the great universities of the
United States, larger and larger numbers of Jew-
ish scholars are to be found each year among the
professors, and these not merely in mathematics
and the natural sciences, but in the humanities
and social sciences as well. In music and litera-
ture their contributions have also been enormous.
The new universities of Israel — the Hebrew
University. the Haifa Technion and the Weizmann
Institute . . . already have outstanding reputa-
tions. In this country, Brandeis University and
Yeshiva University have attained considerable
academic prestige in the past few years.
The reason for the Jewish group's success is
rooted primarily in the favorable home environ-
ment of the Jew. If the success of the Jewish
people in producing outstanding scholars and
scientists depends so clearly on attitudes and
enthusiasm developed in the family at a very
early age,our lack — until recently — of any
corresponding success would argue a failure in
Catholic family life.
It is difficult to accept the conclusions

reached in the America editorial, but we
should willingly accept the challenge implied
in it that we have had traditionally a "favor-
able home environment" and that the validity
of family life based on a great ethical inherit-
ance must be preserved.
Rabbi Gordon's "Intermarriage" renders
a distinct service to all Americans by its
revealing facts regarding the moral status of
our numerous religious communities and the
values of endogamy. It is equally important
to Jews as an evaluation of our current status
as a religious entity and as, a group whose
family life was so vital to our very existence.

Dr. Patai's and Robert Graves'
Hebrew Myths' in Genesis

'

A noted Jewish scholar was joined by an eminent Protestant
and their splendid book, "Hebrew Myths—The Book of Genesis,"
published by Doubleday, becomes an important addendum to Prof.
Louis Ginzberg's "Legends of the Jews" for students of mythol-
ogy. In this work are incorporated the efforts of two men—
Raphael Patai and Robert Graves—who have specialized in an-
thropology, mythology, folklore and Biblical scholarship.
In their introduction, the authors indicate that the study
of mythology is based on Greek concepts, but they concede that
"literalists who deny that the Bible contains any myths at all
are, in a sense, justified," because most myths deal with gods
who take sides in human affairs, "whereas the Bible acknowledges
only a single universal God."
They show that pre-Biblical documents have vanished but
that post-Biblical documents are abundant; that although canoni-
cal books are regarded as divinely written, apocryphal works are
treated leniently, allowing many suppressed myths to reemerge
in midrashim.
Among the Hebrews, we are informed by the two authors,
"myths became monolithic and centered almost exclusively on
Jerusalem." There was a matriarchal culture, and goddess-wor-
ship was replaced by monotheism. The authors state:
"Just how powerful goddesses were under the Jewish mon-
archy can be seen from Jeremiah's enunciation of his coreligion-
ists who attributed Judea's downfall to their breach of faith
with Anath and cried: "Let us once more worship the Queen
Heaven, as our fathers did before us!"
Patai and Graves draw upon legends relating to the Creation,
to the Book of Genesis and the Patriarchs. They include legends
about Ishmael, Lot at Sodom, the era of the ancient Hebrew's
residence in Egypt.
In addition to the legends, their work is richly annotated.
The Abrahamic stories, myths about Jacob and his brothers
and numerous other legends implement this important work.

of

Dr. Gerber's 'Immortal Rebels,'
Revolutionary Biblical Thesis

Dr. Israel J. Gerber, psychologist, now rabbi of Temple Beth
El, Charlotte, N. C., has made a deep study of "freedom for the
individual in the Bible" and he proves, in "Immortal Rebels,"
published by Jonathan David Co. (131 E. 23rd, NY 10) that "the
process of rebellion never ceased."
In this analytical work, Dr. Gerber describes many of the
conflicts among Biblical characters, the struggle for freedom
from primogeniture, and the many imperfections in personalities
we have learned to glorify.
Moses emerges as the social genius who rose to great
leadership because he understood the human failings in man.
There is a great tribute to Moses in this evaluation by Dr.
Gerber: "Moses knew that many people never outgrow the need
for someone to serve in the role of father or hero, that they
find following a leader a profoundly satisfying experience. But
he could not allow them to find this comfort in a dead leader.
He feared they would so venerate him in death that they would
vitiate the effectiveness of their new leader and discard the high
purpose of becoming 'a holy nation' consecrated to God. Even in
death Moses inspired his people to reach beyond the meanings
they could grasp. He shed all personal glory, therefore, in a
unmarked sepulchre (Deut. 34:6) and left his people free."
Dr. Gerber decribes the manner in which Abraham and
Sarah, based on legends, had their personal squabbles due to
Sarah's childlessness, how Sarah abused him, the birth of Ishmael,
the eventual jealousies between Isaac and Ishmael; how Sarah,
before she had given birth, blaming Abraham for her barrenness,
scratched his face.
These and scores of other Biblical incidents are offered to
show imperfections in men in ancient times, the striving for free-
dom. the rebellions that were constant.
Many tales are related about Biblical characters, and "Im-
mortal Rebels" is as much a sociological presentation of Bible
times as it is a compilation of legends, an expose of false views
often presented in Biblical interpretations. It is a revolutionary
thesis.

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