THE JEWISH NEWS
Incorporating The Detroit Jewish Chronicle commencing with issue of July 20, 1951
Member American Association of English—Jewish Newspapers, Michigan Press Association, National Editorial
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
CARMI M. SLOMOVITZ
Editor and Publisher
Sabbath Scriptural Selections
day of Tammuz, the following Scriptural selections
This Sabbath, the syna
will be read in our synagogues:
Pentatenchal portion: Num. 25:10-30:1. Prophetical portion: Jeremiah 1:1-2:3.
Licht benshen, Friday, July 3, 7:52 p.m.
July 3, 1964
VOL. XLV, No. 19
An End to Illiteracy in Israel
Because they could not write. their
names, 16,000 people in Tel Aviv resorted
to thumb prints in the last census. This is
not an overwhelming number in the city's
population of 500,000, and as Itzhak Navon,
who was in charge of the census-taking,
stated, "16,000 people do not set a cultural
Nevertheless, even an infinitesimal fig-
ure pointing to illiteracy in Jewish ranks
creates so unusual a situation that it is a
cause for concern.
The troublesome fact in Israel is that
12 per cent of the population now is illiter-
ate. There was a vast rise in the number
of people who can neither read nor write
as a result of the large influx of Oriental
Jews into Israel.
There are some surprising factors in the
number of illiterates in Israel. Of the native-
born, 2.9 are illiterate; 3.5 of the Eastern
European immigrants and 43.4 of the new-
Comers from Asia and Africa are among
the illiterates, and the latter figure accounts
for the over-all 12 per cent figure for illit-
eracy in Israel. Among the Arabs in Israel,
51.7 per cent are illiterate, and the women
form the majority among all illiterates.
It is no wonder that there is such serious
concern not only in Israel but among Israel's
friends everywhere that the elevation of
the educational standards of Israel should
be made a major objective among the new
settlers in the .Jewish state. In order to elim-
inate cultural backwardness. in the interest
of raising the standards of the new citizens
of Israel who have come from Afro-Asian
countries, the best school facilities mist be
provided, and an eniiali7ation of standards
must he aimed at through the creation of a
vast chain of secondary schools.
In many respects, Israel already -has made
great progress in the advancement of its
educational system. In his very significant
book. "Crisis in Black and White." pub-
lished by Random House, Charles E. Silber-
man thus evaluated Israel's experiments and
the Jewish state's examples in cultural areas
to other nations:
My proposal to extend public education down
to the nursery level is not nearly as extreme as
it sounds. Israel, with a standard of living only
about one third that of the United States, has
already adopted such a policy, and is in the
process of establishing nurseries for the Oriental
Jews as the means of acculturating its new im-
migrants in a single generation. The government
has formally adopted a policy of preferential treat-
ment, called "state protection." Compensatory edu-
cation begins at the prenatal level, when amateur
social workers visit the pregnant mother and the
father; among other things, they teach the parents
how to play with the children, and leave a set of
toys which the government lends the family for a
period of a year or so. The government is rapidly
establishing free nursery schools so that the Orien-
tal youngsters can begin school at three; the
curriculum closely resembles the one Martin
Deutsch is developing.
Help does not stop at that point, however. The
Israeli educators have tried to isolate the critical
Points in intellectual development. The first is the
nursery-school years; the second is the first and
second grades, when the children learn to read.
The Israelis are convinced that anyone, even the
mentally retarded, can be taught to read. The
problem, as Dr. Moshe Smilansky, pedagogical
adviser to the minister of education puts it, is
simply one of adapting the method of instruction
to the state of development in which the child
comes to school. Three years of intensive work
have convinced the Israelis that 80 to 85 per cent
of the Oriental youngsters can be brought up to
the expected reading level.
The third critical point at which Israel's Orien-
tal youngsters need help is the junior-high period
(ages twelve to fourteen); they receive up to eleven
hours of additional instruction a week, in order to
help them adjust to the more complex curriculum
they begin to receive, and to help them prepare
for high school. In addition to the extra instruction
given to all the Oriental youngsters, the govern-
ment has adopted a separate program for the most
academically talented: the top 25 per cent. The
object, quite explicitly, is to encourage the develop-
ment of an intellectual elite among the Oriental
students—to create a group that will go through
high school and the university without difficulty
and then move into positions of responsibility in
government, in business management, and in the
army, thereby demonstrating to the rest of the
Oriental community as well as to the Western
Jewish community that Orientals DO have the
capacity to move to the top of Israeli society.
While this compliments Israel in serious
efforts to maintain the traditional Jewish
standards for learning and to explore new
areas that will lead toward the solution of
problems that arise often out of the modern
speeds with which peoples and nations labor,
it leaves partially unsolved the serious prob-
lems related to the secondary educational
needs. These, too, must reach the high stan-
dards that have been attained in the primary
educational fields. And the Silberman study
does point out the problems created by the
two standards—among 0 c c i d e n t a l s and
Orientals—in evidence in Israel.
It has been pointed out that standards
of civilization are deter mined in settle-
ments remote from the main centers of pop-
ulation, on Israel's borders with Arab states,
were two-thirds of a village population, com-
posed of Oriental Jews, is illiterate. Such a
condition is considered intolerable, and Is-
rael's leaders are seriously coping with the
The recent assignment of 63 girls, mem-
bers of Israel's armed forces, to prepare for
teaching careers among these illiterate ele-
ments is a step in the right direction.
American Jews are sharing in the new
tasks of seeking an end to the status of il-
literacy figures among immigrants from Arab
countries. A progressive Hebrew high school
has been established at the Hebrew Univer-
sity in .Jerusalem by the National Council of
Jewish Women, with the aid of the Detroit.
A high school is soon to be established in
Jerusalem with funds provided by the Emma
Schaver Foundation of Detroit.
The Stollman family of Detroit has un-
dertaken to finance a high school at Bar-
Both Detroit gifts are continuations of
generosity on the part of the Stollmans and
the Schavers. They are creditable not only as
philanthropic gestures but as evidences of ap-
preciation of the needs which must be ful-
filled if the tasks on behalf of Israel are to
be practical and realistic.
There is evidence that United Jewish
Appeal leaders are striving to make the rais-
ing of the standards of Israel's educational
system among their main objectives.
The announcement made at the United
Jewish Appeal dinner in New Y o r k, on
June 3, by Israel's Prime Minister Levi
Eshkol, of the plans for a - special effort by
'WA to provide a large fund for the ex-
pansion of Israel's secondary educational
system, was one of the very important deci-
sions relating to the great need to solve a
These are steps in the right direction,
and it is to be hoped that illiteracy, gen-
erally unknown in Jewish ranks, will be com-
pletely wiped out in Israel.
Notable Hassidic Tales Compiled
in D. L. Meckler's 'Miracle Men'
David L. Meckler, one of the best known Yiddish writers in this
country, is not the first to introduce Hassidic tales to English readers.
Yet, his "Miracle Men," the collection of tales about the Baal Shem
and his Hassidim published by Bloch, is unique in its style, in the
type of narrative that enhances the movement that was founded by
Baal Shem Tov.
The folk idea predominates in these stories. In the Meckler nar-
ratives we are presented with new approaches to the folklore that
made Hassidism so popular in Jewry.
It is the contention of Meckler that Hassidism "still smacked
of the messianic," even after the debacle of the Shabbatai Zevi
His introductory essay to "Miracle Men" is a brief but a very
succinct interpretation of the Hassidic idea. He makes this interesting
comment about the acceptance of Hassidic folklore:
"The importance of the Hassidic tale lies in the fact that the
Hassid not only believes in its veracity, but also regards it as part of
his worship to repeat or hearken to the old stories. To the Hassid
these legends are not for entertainment, but for spiritual uplift. The
account of the Baal Shem's ascent to heaven and his entrance into
the palace of the Messiah (one of the tales in this volume) is actually
regarded as containing the secret of the deliverance of the Jewish
A variety of themes gives the Meckler volume its special merit.
Many factors in Jewish life are reflected in these stories, as are,
equally as well, the ideas and the personalities that had elevated
Hassidism to its accepted influence and importance.
Thus, the talisman, which has been so vital in Hassidic practices,
as the means of restoring a family's happiness, is recorded in one of
The Baal Shem plays his role in many of the tales, and "The
Cabalist" offers a solution to a mystery and, as the first story in the
book, serves as an introduction to the charm that marks all of the 25
Indeed, the tales deal with miracles, and each is marked by the
inspiration that stems from Hassidism.
There are revelations, giants are the sources of some of the
the Jewish search for new homes, the zeal of the Hassid—these arc ‘
many more elements in Hassidism are implanted in the Meckler
There are echoes of the anti-Semitic movements, and the manner
in which Hassidic lore upheld the Jewish spirit is similarly incorpor-
ated in these tales.
David L. Meckler, presently editor-in-chief of the Day - Jewish
Morning Journal, has rendered a distinct service with his gathering
of the Hassidic tales for English readers. His "Miracle Men" will in-
crease an understanding of Hassidism.
More Intergroup Efforts Urged
to Solve Problems of Prejudice
In "Tolerant Personality," published by Wayne State University
Press, Prof. James G. Martin of Northern Illinois University presents
the results of research into problems of tolerance and intergroup ten-
sions, the existing prejudices and the forces that are striving for their
Explaining the attitudes of all elements in our population, DT.
Martin at one point asserts that "Jews are generally more tolerant
towards other groups." He acids: "Within Protestantism, the rule
seems to be that the more liberal the theology the less the prejudice
The vital lesson to be learned, Dr. Martin declares, "is that
gross inequality and intolerance are self-destructive. This is as
true in South Africa as it is in Alabama, as it was. in Czarist
Russia . . . The only reliable and legitimate means of gaining
esteem and respect for oneself is, in the long run, to be willing
to grant it to others equally deserving."
He asserts that "what is needed is more attention to the problems
of intergroup relations . . . The content of education can also con-
tribute to the encouragement of tolerant attitudes . . . Learning-
foreign languages in the elementary schools should have some worth-
while effect; it may be to little avail, however, if the teacher is in-
tolerant. Prejudice is contagious and can be conveyed by subtle cues."