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June 19, 1964 - Image 10

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1964-06-19

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

`So Strange My Path' Is Story of Abraham Carmel's Conversion to Judaism

Abraham Carmel, now a devout
Orthodox Jew, has been heard in
many communities where audi-
ences were told his story of his
conversion from Catholicism and
his explanation of his preferences
for Judaism.
He was • a Catholic priest. He
was born Kenneth Charles Cox in
London, and studied all other
faiths before turning to ours. It
took some time before the Beth
Din — the Jewish Ecclesiastical
Judges—finally agreed to welcome
him to our fold. He had taught
prior to that, after leaving his
church, at Carmel College in Lon-
don. There he became further im-
bued with Jewish idealism and he
adopted the Carmel name, and as a
Ger took Abraham for his first
name.
His story is told in his descrip-
tion of his "spiritual pilgrimage,"

1911 at Greenwich, London, and
before embracing Judaism he had
hearched his heart and soul, he
in "So Strange My Path," which
has been published by Bloch.
Having finally found peace
for his spirit, Carmel states that
he acquired it "in the serene,
untroubled atmosphere of my
new faith" in which he is "able
to meditate more objectively
upon so many questions that had
harrassed me at one time or an-
other in the past." He states
that in his new faith he found
"more and more . . . complete
composure of soul and spiritual
unity."
Students of religions and the
differences among faiths will find
great interest in Carmel's explana-
tions of the approaches he had
made to all the religions before
turning to Judaism.

Wallant's 'The Chi ldren at the Gate,'
Posthumus Work, Noteworthy Novel

A very few weeks after he had heir of an insurance policy of $500_
spoken here at the annual Jewish that is doubled by the accident.
Center Book Fair, in 1962, Edward Half of this sum goes to his
Lewis Wallant died at the age of mother as he leaves his home to
36. He then al-
seek a new life somewhere.
ready had two
There are so many aspects of
n o t eworthy
searching into the true insight of
n ovels to his
people! Wallant had such fine
credit. A third
perspective, such a wonderful so-
was publi shed
cial sense which he displayed in
last y e a r, post-
"The Children at the Gate!" His
humously, under
newest posthumous novel lends ad-
the title "The
ditional prestige to an already well
Tenants of Moon-
established
name in American
bloom."
literature.
H a r court,
Brace and World
Wallant
(575 3rd NY 17)
has just issued as a p o s t h u mous
work his fourth novel," "The Chil-
dren at the Gate." It is a power-
ful work that attests to the de-
ceased author's literary skill.
A remarkably well motivated
theme marks this splendid work
in which Wallant evidenced his
ability as a story-teller and his
perfected style.
A 19-year-old Italian Catholic
lad and an older man, a Jew who
appeared to be unstable, are the
chief heroes in this story. Angelo
DeMarco refused to adhere to
Catholicism. He alone was able to
control his demented younger sis-
ter. He worked in an uncle's drug
store and one of his chores was to
go daily to Sacred Heart Hospital
to take orders for soft drinks,
ice cream, and drugs, from pa-
tients, later to fill them and to
deliver them.
It was at the hospital that he
met the nurses and sisters, one of
the latter unsuccessfully pleading
with him to return to the church.
At the hospital he met an orderly,
the Jew Sammy, and others - who
play their roles in the story—one
man who had attempted to rape a
girl patient. Sammy at first was
suspected of the attempted crime,
but Angelo discovered the guilty
one, had him arrested, and Sammy,
upon his release, circulated a peti-
tion to have the guilty one par-
doned.
That was only one of the kind
acts by Sammy. He was a clown.
He was eccentric. He was accused
by Angelo of selling narcotics to
the patients. But he was a re-
markable story teller—basing his
tales on personal experiences, on
Jewish lore, on his childhood that
was filled with tragedy—his re-
marks being constantly punctuated
with Yiddishisms.
Sammy dies in an accident, and
Angelo learns that he is the sole

He writes that "p rominent
among the features of my new
faith which most enchanted me
was the sonorous and majestic
quality of the Jewish prayers." He
aligns himself with the Zionist
idea and asserts that "Israel is,
and always will be, an absolute

ABRAHAM CARMEL

necessity for Jewish survival." He
takes pride in Jewish achieve-
ments throughout the ages and
the important roles that are being
played by Jews in many profes-
sions, in the arts, the theater, edu-
cation.
He also is critical of some con-
ditions in Jewish life and he is
especially concerned about the
status of the Jewish youth, the in-
crease in intermarriages, the de-
cline in kashrut.
"The great army of unattach-
ed youth is marching from

NEIN

apathy, to apostasy!" he warns.
He therefore calls for a com-
plete reorientation "of our entire
Jewish educational system." He
declares that youth is waiting for
a message, that:
"They want a reason for being
Jews, and Israel is half the an-
swer. Let us use the movies, radio
and television to portray to our
youth the glories of Jewish his-
tory. We are the people of The
Book—that Book which has given
the world its moral and spiritual
standards. Youth will lose its in-
feriority complex in relation to
Judaism once it realizes what the
non-Jewish world also must be
taught to realize, viz that Judaism,
the Mother religion, has given to
the world: The Commandments,
The Psalms, The Prophets. Even
the Sermon on the Mount was 75
per cent Judaic in origin and con-
tent. Since Jesus sat at the feet
of the rabbis, how could it be
otherwise?"

One of his criticisms is not en-
tirely justified. He condemns all
of South African Jewry for failure
to oppose discrimination against
the blacks and for not opposing
totalitarianism more firmly. The
fact is that many among the Afri-
can Jews are the leaders in the
battle for justice there. Israel vot-
ed against South Africa at the
United Nations, and rabbis in
South Africa have spoken courag-
eously against apartheid.
But when he says that Jews
often exhibit the worst as well as
the best qualities of their lands of
origin he proves his point well.

Especially interesting in Car-
mel's account of his search for
peace for his soul is the road he
had traveled as a Catholic, the
turn it took, the trials and tri-
bulations he had experienced.
His circumcision was followed
by an illness which, he believes,
could have been avoided had there
been greater concern for the pro-
selyte by the responsible Beth Din.
But he states it as advice rather
than as criticism. His craving for
the new faith is, indeed, marked
by a devotion that will surely
arouse admiration among the read-
ers of his book and those who
hear his story.

PARCELS TO RUSSIA

&tom

"So Strange My Path" is a very
eloquent story told by a convert
to Judaism and Abraham Carmel's
account of his acceptance of the
Jewish faith is a story well worth
reading.
P. S.

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Stock Market Is Stable

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The im-
position of Israel's first capital
gains tax on securities profits had
no marked effect on the stock
market.
The tax requires payment of a
20 per cent levy on profits in sales
of stocks within one year of pur-
chase. It does not apply to foreign
investors.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
Friday, June 19, 1964
10

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