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August 21, 1964 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1964-08-21

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Purely Commentary

Encyclopedists and Those of 'Jewish Extraction'
Encyclopedists and compilers of names for the forthcoming who's-
'who Jewish records will be in a real quandary when faced with the
problem of how to handle the name of Senator Barry Goldwater of
Arizona, Republican nominee for the highest office in our land who
could well be our next President.
If such records are to be limited to Jews, then only professing Jews
are to be considered for inclusion in Jewish encyclopedias and related
works. Yet, the Universal Jewish Encyclopedia in-
cludes the name of Franklin D. Roosevelt, without
considering his remote Jewish background. All
Jewish encyclopedias give accounts of the lives of
Benjamin Disraeli, who was converted to Christianity
before his bar mitzvah by his father, Isaac d'Israeli,
who was angered by procedures in the Jewish com-
munity; of Heinrich Heine, also a convert, and
others of prominence who were of Jewish extraction
but who gained world fame and whose Jewish
origin was frequently referred to by non-Jews
(the Mendelssohns and others).
More than 20 years ago, a famous pathologist,
a Nobel Prize winner, who was listed as a Jew in
"Who's Who in American Jewry," threatened the
publishers of the volume with a libel suit, insisting
he was not a Jew. That scientist had become a convert to Catholicism.
The libel suit never materialized, but the matter became a public
issue and was the subject of an interesting worldwide debate.
But Heinrich Heine, in one of his essays, made this assertion:

"It is true that I was once baptized, but I was never
converted. It is extremely difficult for a Jew to be
converted, for how can he bring himself to believe in the
divinity, of another Jew?"

Because the term half-Jew has been injected into the public dis-
cussions, the question is a legitimate one and should be pursued.
At the outset, it ought to be understood that there are no half- or
quarter-Jews. The terms were created mainly by Adolf Hitler and his
cohorts in whose .benefit it was to locate all who stemmed from Jews
in :order to be able to enlarge upon the group they could not only
dis-enfranchise but also use to remove from public office, to acquire
their properties, to pursue confiscations among them. This group
became an available and accommodating object for attack and humilia-
tion because many of them carried with them into the other religious
ranks or into the elements of non-observance an inherited liberalism
and radicalism. Thus they became objects of the Nazi hatred.
As a matter of law and tradition, a Jew is one who is born of a
Jewish mother — unless the mother had chosen to abandon the Jewish
faith. Then, if we insist that a Jew is a person who professes the Jew-
ish faith, any one outside the ranks of the professing Jewish element
is not a Jew.
While Senator Goldwater is in his right to express pride in his
"Jewish heritage," he is neither a Jew nor a half of one. He was born of
and reared by an Episcopalian mother, he is affiliated with his mother's
church and he is just that: an Episcopalian.
Nevertheless, who's-who encyclopedists will have a tough time in
the years to come when faced with the question of how to treat this
matter in forthcoming volumes. Max Melamet, the able editor of the
Canadian Jewish Chronicle, was right in his puzzlement over the issue
after listing a number of people who stemmed from Jews and whose
names were included in Jewish biographical compilations.
But the posed question will remain a puzzle. A few days after
the Arizona Senator was named the Republican candidate for the Presi-
dency, Senator Gordon Allott of Colorado inserted in the Congressional
Record an editorial from the Cincinnati Enquirer under the heading
"Bigotry Becomes a Game" which stated in part:
An interesting new game is sweeping the country. We call
it, for want of a better name, applied bigotry.
To play, you must belong to a minority. That, of course, is not
difficult, for nearly every American belongs to one minority or
another — political, economic, racial, religious, ethnic. To qualify
for our particular -little game, however, you must convert your
minority membership into a full-time profession.
One joy of the game is that, once you have done that, the
rules allow you to brand whomever you do not like as a bigot.
Another joy of the game is that no one can challenge your
.condemnations without himself inviting condemnation as a bigot.
Who, after all, can defend a bigot except other bigots? A third
joy of the game is that you are the sole and exclusive deter-
miner of what bigotry actually is. And no one can require you to
define your terms. Neither can anyone look into your • motives—
without inviting public suspicion of his own.
Eventually, after a little practice, you will find yourself using
the "bigot" label so freely and so frequently that you will find
it convenient to get a rubber stamp. Thus you can stamp "bigot"
-permanently on the public record of whichever of your fellow
Americans. you choose before they quite know what is happening.
A particular adept and eminent practitioner of our little game
Is Jackie Robinson, who has been the object of respect and admira-
tion for a whole generation of Americans of all races, creeds and
colors. Mr. Robinson the other day attacked Senator Barry Gold-
water as a bigot, and he was joined in that condemnation by the
-hundreds of zealots who picketed the San Francisco Cow Palace
Mr. Robinson has become so expert at the game that he tried,
convicted and condemned Senator Goldwater not on one count,
but on three. Senator Goldwater, he declared, is not only anti-
Negro, but also anti-Catholic, and anti-Jewish.
The pity of it is that Senator Goldwater is also under fire
•from the other side of the political spectrum — from the ultimate
in crackpot movements, the American Nazi Party.
These homegrown Fascists condemn Senator Goldwater not
because he is anti-Negro, but because, as they put it, he has been
a "loyal member and heavy contributor to the National Association
of Colored People"; not because he is anti-Jewish, but because he
Is half-Jewish; not because he is a captive of the John Birch
Society, but because he has "blasted the courageous patriot,
Robert Welch," the society's founder and president.
Eventually, we can anticipate that Senator Goldwater must
bear the additional burden of being identified as pro-Catholic
because of his choice of a running mate.
The Goldwater case points up a particularly striking feature of
the game of applied bigotry: Everyone loses but the player.


2 Friday, August 21, 1964

There Are No 1/2 Jews . .
If 'Wholly Catholic,'
Why Not 'Wholly Jewish'?

By Philip

And because he questions the means—not the ends—of one
piece of civil rights legislation, you are entitled to wield your
rubber stamp and to brand Senator Goldwater dogmatically and
indelibly: "Bigot."
This defense of Senator Goldwater injects the Jewish element
into the political discussion, and we quote it to illustrate the position
that will be taken by many sincere-minded Americans on the religious
issue. The fact that Vice-Presidential candidate, Rep. William E. Miller,
has followed a similar line of thinking, adds interest to the discussion
relative to religious origin. Candidate Miller had said, at a conference
at Gettysburg:
"I am not interested in the posture of the K. K. K. They are
Supposed to be anti-color, anti-religious, anti-Catholic and anti-
Jewish. Well, Senator Goldwater is half-Jewish, and I am wholly
This is a bit ludicrous. One can be wholly Catholic. Are there
half-Catholics? Of course not ! Either one is a Catholic or he isn't.
And the same thinking applies to Jews: one is either a professing
Jew or he isn't. True, one can be irreligiously Jewish; even a convert
is in tradition recognized as a Jew because he can always affirm his
error and return — be a baal teshuvah. Heine was right in his assertion,
for, in our tradition, "Israel of al pi she-hatah Israel hu—a Jew, even
if he has sinned. remains a Jew. But that is inapplicable to one born
of a non-Jewish mother and who has been raised by her as a Christian.
The forthcoming Presidential campaign will be fought on many
issues. Perhaps the Cincinnati Enquirer is right when it states that
bigotry will be injected in the campaign. But perhaps much of it will
stem from principles involving social and civil justice. There will be
matters of foreign policy — and they will be discussed on their merits
on the basis of party differences. We are a two-party democracy and
just as there is a Negro editor (of a Pittsburgh weekly) who has
endorsed Goldwater, so there undoubtedly will be Jews who will back
the Republican candidate. On the basis of the platform of the
Arizona Senator's party, very many Jews will back Lyndon Johnson.
When it is all over, all of us will be ready to defend our demo-
cratic principles with all the power at our command. Therefore we
must approach the election in a spirit of confidence that the highest
principles of our land will emerge insufferable.

A New Puzzle: 'American English' (sic) and the Bible
In view of the worldwide interest that was given to the Jewish
Publication Society's revised translation of the Torah, published last
year, the appearance of another translation, of the Five Books of
Moses and the Haftorahs for the 52 weeks of the year, under the
title "Torah Yesharah," deserves special attention.
"Torah Yesharah" was published, in two volumes, by the Solomon
Rabinowitz Book Concern, 30 Canal St., New York. They were trans
lated and edited by Rabbi Charles Kahane (Yehezkel Sheraga Hakohen.)
The title page asserts that the translation is "traditional inter-
pretive" and that the introductions to the Haftarot are "based on
Talmudic and Midrashic sources, as well as from Medieval and modern
commentators," including Maimonides, Rashi, Ibn Ezra and others.
It has been announced that Rabbi Kahane undertook a
translation into "American English," that he began his task in
1959, that his wife did the typing, that his aim was to make the
Bible more meaningful to Americans.
The yesharah term in the title of the new translation, "Torah
Yesharah," means uprightness. It is an acronym on the translator-
editor's Hebrew name.
Rabbi Kahane contends that when he gave classes in the Bible
to adults at his congregation in Brooklyn, the Scriptures were not
understood. Thereupon he undertook a translation in what he terms
an "American English." He states that he used modern geographical
terms for ancient places and placed Mount Ararat between Kurdistan
and Armenia.
Having cited Numbers 20:12 — where Moses is denied the right
to enter the Holy Land — as illustrative of a more meaningful trans-
lation, it will be interesting to compare Rabbi Kahane's with that of
the new JPS translation. Rabbi Kahane's reads:
"The Eternal then said to Moses and Aaron: 'The people who came
out from Egyptian slavery were used to stern leadership. Therefore
I commanded you in Horeb to smite the rock to symbolize that stern
leadership. But the present generation was reared in liberty and
therefore must be guided by gentler methods, as symbolized by My
command to you only to speak to the rock. But you have not promoted
belief in My words, to sanctify Me in the eyes of all Israel by giving
them gentle guidance. Now, therefore, you are not suited to lead this
young assembly into the land which I have given them."
In the new JPS Torah translation we read:
"But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 'Because you did not
trust Me enough to affirm My sanctity in the sight of the Israelite
people, therefore you shall not lead this congregation into the land
that I have given them."
One wonders on the basis of these comparisons, whether the
"American English" argument works so well in support of Rabbi
Kahane's contentions.
Another comparison should be made. An extreme group of Ortho-
dox had criticized the JPS translation and some made the special
claim that the Third Commandment was distorted in the new transla-
tion. Let us see how the two renderings compare. In the new JPS
translation, the Third Commandment reads:
"You shall not swear falsely by the name of the Lord your God;
for the Lord will not clear one who swears falsely by His name."
In Kahane's translation the Third Commandment appears as
"You shall not swear by the name of the Eternal your Almighty
in vain, to affirm that which is evident, and in particular the Eternal
will not leave any one unpunished who swears falsely by His Name."
Which is a distortion? The hitherto unchallenged 1917 JPS trans-
lation of the Third Commandment read: "Thou shalt not take the
name of the Lord thy God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him
guiltless that takes His name in vain." Is that less "American English"
than Kahane's?
It is because some critics, who have not been heard from again
after the generally wide acceptance of the new JPS translation, have
resorted to charges of "distortion" that the three versions of the
Third Commandment are given in this review. We wonder whether
Rabbi Immanuel Jakobovits, who has reportedly commended the
Kahane translation, actually prefers the confusing work by Kahane
to the highly scholarly JPS work.
Rabbi Kahane's "Torah Yesharah" does have special merit. The
brief commentaries on the Haftarot are valuable. The comments on
the Prophets serve a purpose. These are more purposeful than the

Israel Says It'll
Use Force if Syria
Continues Attacks

warned the United Nations Truce
Supervision Organization that
further attacks by Syria against
Israel's northern border "will be
met by force." The warning was
given to Gen. Odd Bull, chief of
staff of the UN organization, by an
official of Israel's Foreign Minis-
try who invited Gen. Bull to come
to the Ministry to discuss the grave
situation on the northern frontier.
Syria has been firing from auto-
matic weapons almost every day
this week, directing the shells at
tractors in the fields near the set-
tlement of Haon, on the shore of
Lake Tiberias. There have been at
least two atacks of this kind dur-
ing most of the week.
The Foreign Ministry official
told Gen. Bull that Israel takes a
very grave view of these attacks.
He noted that Israel did not re-
turn the fire after any of these
persistent attacks. He underscored
the fact that Israel complained to
the UN Israeli-Syrian Mixed Ar-
mistice Commission after each of
the attacks, and stated flatly that
Israel cannot continue assuming a
passive role in the face of these
repeated Syrian provocations.

They See Only Red .


Editor, Seven Arts Features

If the United States were in a
situation in which it needed aid
from a country dominated by
Birchers, it would be ineligible
for succor since it would come
under the Birchite formula that
no Socialist or Communist coun-
try is deserving of mercy. Crazy?
Perhaps. But that is the only con-
clusion to be drawn from a recent
piece in the Birchite j ournal,
American Opinion.
According to the publication's
"scoreboard" the rate of Com-
munist influence in the United
States is rapidly reaching the
over-70 per cent mark, a develop-
ment which would automatically
exclude the U.S. from aid under
the Birchite formula if they were
the rulers of the world's coffers.
Nor does Israel fare better with
the Birchers. In 1953 the Birchers
could only detect a Communist in-
fluence of between 40 and 60 per
cent, but now, they whimper, it
is between 50 and 70 per cent,
which puts Israel in good company
— with the U.S. How they arrived
at those figures is, of course, one
of the mysteries that is as secret
as the Birch movement itself.
Israel has not at any time sent
more than two or three Communist
deputies to its 120-seat Parliament.
Surely the Birchites must be using
an arithmetical measurement of
their own sick invention.
The higher score for Israel, says
the Birchite sheet, is due to a mun-
her of developments, among them
they say without an iota of
proof — "official toleration, if
not encouragement, of participa-
tion in efforts to incite race-war
in Africa in conformity with the
Communist purposes."
Israel, say the Birchers, "is a
little country sitting on the eastern
shore of the Mediterranean, cre-
ated in part for the purpose of
keeping the Arabs busy fighting a
phantom" while the Kremlin "com-
bine takes over lock, stock and
barrel with little or no resistance
from the natives." The "gentle-
men" who subsist on fighting
phantoms are hardly competent
to complain against fighting phan-


As for the Israelis, the Birchers
offer the thesis that they are "con-
trolled by a Socialist clique which
has monopolized political power
from the early days of Jewish CO-
Since the Birchers are experts
in looking under other beds, it
would be well if they uncovered
their own beds a bit more for all
to behold the political and social
filth that is their heritage. No
amount of semantic antics can
conceal the fact that Birchism
rhymes with Fascism and its vari-

I ant -- Communism.

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