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February 25, 1966 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1966-02-25

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Purely Commentary

Reading the account of a tragedy that happened in Detroit from a great dis-
tance, studying the published reports, taking into account the rantings that stem from
dementia, one might be impelled — as editorial writers very often are — to judge
the conditions and to pass judgment.
On the home scene, being aware of existing conditions, cognizant of the motivaL
tions that guide men, it should be easier to refrain from rash statements.
Surely, a non-Jewish writer, judging the conditions that had led to the horror
in our midst, might have been guided by the admonition in the New Testament,
"Judge not, lest ye be judged." But an editorial writer in one of our newspapers,
having waited an entire week, undertook to pass judgment on religious frailities,
"Judge not" should have restrained him!
From a distance, that editorial judgment might sound like good psychiatric
analysis. From close, it is evident that the one who wrote that piece did not know
the facts.
For, if we are to judge, we must judge many things, many people, many factors.
And to judge we do not turn upon a congregation's stone and mortar without acknowl-
edging what is imbedded in that cement. We must know a bit more. We must trace
the background. We must become aware of the reality of life. We must know who
had influenced the lad who had become demented: was it within that structure which
has suddenly become an object of concern for an editorial writer, was it the rabbi
within that structure, or was it another, an entirely different, force?
A lad shot a rabbi. He shot himself. The lad uttered some very irrational
things. It was assumed that the rabbi had been his spiritual guide.
But the lad was comparatively new to the synagogue. He was known very
well to the rabbi but he had been guided by psychiatrists more then by the rabbi.
It was at the great university where he had acquired the knowledge he was spouting
in his memoirs. Therefore, if an editorial writer was searching for backgrounds, for
faults, for causes, for influences, why wasn't it our educational system he was testing,
analyzing, examining, criticizing?
For the simple reason that he missed the point entirely—and that is why a
major portion of that editorial was in poor taste !
Just because a lad speaks about hypocrisy and travesty and abomination does
not mean that these things exist to such a vast degree and that the men who are
sheltered by mortar are not trying to overcome them. That editorial writer wrote
about Shaarey Zedek. Perhaps he has visited there and had spoken to the rabbi
whose sad plight is causing us so much agony. But what does he know about the great
effort that is being made in that structure to battle against materialism, to teach the
children the higher values of life, to lead congregants towards paths of decency and
justice and righteousness and an appreciation of the basic Jewish rule that anyone
who takes even a single life is as if he had endangered the very existence of all
This is the basis of the Shaarey Zedek, as of all Jewish traditional structures
which are defiled when an act like that of Feb. 12 is performed—and the structures
wherein these things are taught are being built to be comfortable and attractive and
inviting in order that a modern community may be invited into it, under conditions
of competition with a materialistic world!
How could anyone bluntly denigrate faith as it emanates from Shaarey Zedek .
when that congregation emerged so well in time of crisis—when in the hciurs of its


A House of Prayer Must Not Be

Mocked in Time of Major Crisis


rabbi's sufferings it showed compassion, it helped direct the minyan in the boy's
home while the family sat shivah, it memorialized his name before the mourners'
Kaddish on the last Sabbath. A forgiving congregation is not a congregation that has
failed: a forgiving community is not spiritually bankrupt. And our community will never
deviate from compassion because we sympathize so completely with the tragically
aggrieved family of the young, confused lad!
Of course, there have been mockeries, there are mockeries, there will again be
mockeries, but we cannot accept the implication that there is a continuing and per-
petuating mockery in religious life.
The lad who brought about the agony wrote in his memoirs that were found
among his belongings:
"Since I feel that I am no longer able to make any significant creative
contributions, I shall make a destructive one. . . ."
Who taught him that? Did he learn it in the synagogue where he worshipped
very little or in the high institution of learning where he studied very much? Was he
given such an idea by a rabbi or by a layman?
If we are to analyze and to arrive at the root of trouble, let's do it the fullestI,
Let's not hide facts! There is too much illness to avoid truth! There are too manyCL___.
demented for us to avoid reality!
A boy of 23 said he no longer had additional contributions to make. What did
he contribute before the act? What can a lad of 23 contribute? Was he an Alexander
the Great who was a conquerer at 23, who lived to real greatness in a short life of 33,
who showed creative genius, not argumentative skill as a mere youth? But in our
universities we may be on the wrong track when we make genius of mere ability. This
in itself perpetuates mediocrity!




Yes, there is much to disturb the world—all of us, our country, mankind.
There was a report (New York Times, Feb. 13, a cable from Paris by its correspond-
ent, John L. Hess) — only a day after the tragedy struck Shaarey Zedek — which
"Physicians, ministers and welfare workers report an alarming rise in mental
disorders among American students here. They say it has swamped the meager facil-
ities available for counseling and treatment.
"Of the several thousands of American students in Paris—hundreds of whom
seldom if ever attend classes—about 100 a year find themselves in the American
Hospital in suburban Neuilly with critical mental disturbances.
"An understanding number of other ailing persons escape the attention of
Americans who want to help them."
Yet we spend more than 60 cents out of every taxed dollar for armaments and
so few pennies in the search of a solution to this grave problem that has afflicted
mankind! It is for this reason that we so eagerly are attacking the issue and are
challenging those who go off on a tangent—because it is so easy to find scapegoats
in the army of the cloth!

This was written with pain! It is difficult to take a confrere to task, it is painful
to deal factually in matters involving one's rabbi and congregation, and it is especially
hard to utter these things when the lad's family are your close friends! But there are
distortions, and they won't help anyone unless truth is faced without panic. There
are too many sick to be helped, too much dementia that may lead others to the
acquisition of guns, for us to be silent!

The Changing World, Our Youth and the Panic in Our Community Policy Making Movements
not mean that we must glorify a brutal act as if it were prophecy, as if it were a
The tragedy in Detroit, the rebukes to the synagogue in the process of the act
revolt by youth against the elders and the alleged hypocrisy of their parents and
that has aroused such a sense of horror, has given ammunition to the critics. Those
who are laboring pessimistically over the status of our youth, the analysts who are
Yes — there is much fault-finding to be ascribed to the elders. Many are spend-
judging attitudes that have brought about an indifference towards things Jewish by
ing millions to erect buildings instead of placing emphasis on the contents of the
young Jews, suddenly have taken hold of the new situation to apply it to their "I
buildings. Through the ages we have been admonished — "al tistakel b'kankan elo
told you so" prophesies.
How wrong people can be, in the light of historic experiences which teach us
mah she-yesh bo" — look not at the bottle but for what is in it. And this is what,
especially under Rabbi Adler's guidance, Shaarey Zedek has been laboring for: to
that throughout the generations our elders have deplored indifference, that in periods
enhance values, to educate, to instruct. Just as so many other congregations are
of emancipation and acquisition of freedom there have been escapees from the syna-
laboring for this goal. And if the response is meager, isn't it bacause the elders have
gogue and from Jewish life
responded poorly? Then we should have a revolt on the score of the elders who are
One of our columnists, writing a rather confusing comment on the occurence
not attracting the youth, and not by building up a tragic case as if it were martyrdom,
in the Shaarey Zedek, concluded with this statement:
by calling dementia prophecy, by glorifying mental sickness as if it were genius!
The affliction that had come upon Rabbi Adler will be ameliorated only if it
Yes, we have much to do, we need to awaken our youth, we must create value-
serves to awaken our Jewish community to the need of mending the fences, of forging
purposes, but it must not be a pistol that should be recognized as the instrument to
value-purposes that will be palatable to our young in a changing generation."
awaken us from our slumbers; a garbled accusation from one who was still a child
This is an altogether ridiculous bit of advice in relation to the issue at hand.
does not make his utterance the supreme purpose of our existence.
Aren't we all always trying to assess conditions and to arrive at needs such as the
Let there be a serious effort to educate all, young end old! Let us try 'to
columnist just quoted pleaded for? Has that writer suddenly discovered our ills?
enlarge upon the fund of knowledge that deals with the mental illnesses of our time.
Doesn't he know that we are aware of them? Doesn't every fair-minded judge of
But let us not destroy that purpose by giving credence to any belief that a hillul ha-
Jewish conditions recognize that we are striving to improve conditions?
Shem, the desecration of the Holy Name, in a house of worship, was martyrdom or
We are heartbroken over what has happened to the tragically confused youth's
glory or prophecy.
family, and we share with them the sad plight that has befallen them. But that does-


U.S. Watches China's Moves in Middle East

involvement in the Middle East is
now being studied by the United;
States because of the need to
assess the impact of Chinese nu-
clear potentialities on the prospect
for arms control in other parts of
the world, it was revealed in a
report to Congress by the U.S.
Arms Control and Disarmament
Agency. "We are approaching a
critical period in efforts to pre-
vent the spread of nuclear wea-
pons," President Johnson told the
Congress in a message transmit-
ting the agency's report.
Declaring that various countries
now possess the resources, the
technical ability and the scientific
manpower needed to build nuclear
weapons systems, the President—
without specifically mentioning the
name of any such country—said:
"We hear voices saying that these
countries can afford such costly
weapons, even though they would
have to be bought at the expense
of the basic needs of their people."
He emphasized that "I have com-
mitted my Administration to the
task of persuading the non-nuclear
countries that it is neither in the

r-"iv, February 25, 1966

interest of their security, nor of
world peace, to develop
weapons. This has been the
the main
thrust behind the efforts of the
Arms Control and Disarmament
Agency during the past year, and
it will continue to be in the year
we are now entering," he said.
The report of the U.S. Arms
Control and Disarmament
Agency makes reference to
Egyptian proposals at the 1965
sessions of the Geneva Confer-
ence, which included a mora-
torium on nuclear tests. It
stresses that the agency favored
a policy under which non-nu-
clear states would have an "obli-
gation not to acquire nuclear
weapons nor to manufacture
them." The United States favors
a draft treaty "which specifically
prevents any increase in the
present number of nuclear enti-
ties," the report declared.
It reveals that a study has been
made of missile potentialities of
non-nuclear nations. "Because of
the serious implications of missile
and rocket proliferation," the re-
port states, "the ACDA staff em-
barked on a study aimed at finding


the facts in the present situation,
the probabilities of missile de-
velopment in non-nuclear coun-
tries, and the possibilities of con-
trols by agreement. The basic
study examined factors which
might influence non-nuclear coun-
tries to obtain missiles and space
A survey was made of present
and potential capabilities in speci-
fic countries which might elect to
develop a missile delivery system,
with particular emphasis on the
alternative ways by which missiles
might proliferate — indigenous
production, conversion of space
rockets, and purchase from outside
sources. "Much work on the detec-
tion of clandestine missile produc-
tion" was done by the agency in
connection with U.S. proposals for
a production freeze on strategic
delivery vehicles, the report states.
(In an interview published in
the Standard-Times, of New Bed-
ford, Mass., Dr. Jerome B. Wies-
ner, chairman of a special Presi-
dential advisory group studying
arms controls and disarmament.
said that India and Israel are being
observed by his committee because
they may soon be able to test
atomic weapons.)

Yeshiva U.'s $10,000,000 Facilities

An artist's rendering shows the facilities of Yeshivah Univer-
sity's Midtown Center as they will appear on completion of a $10
million expansion program announced by Dr. Samuel Belkin, pres-
ident. The Midtown Center is in the Murray Hill section of Man-
hattan in New York City. Included in expansion plan is construc-
tion of an 11-story, $4.5 million classroom building (center) for
Stern College for Women on Lexington Avenue between 34th and
35th St., and $1.5 million renovation of the existing Stern College
for Women facility (left), on Lexington Ave. and the corner of 35th.
St. Also included is acquisition of a $4 million apartment-hotel, as
a residence hall for Stern College Students.

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