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March 25, 1966 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1966-03-25

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Purely Commentary

OUR Dilemma—Youths' Complaints—OUR Programing

There are heartening developments in the Jewish community.
The adults are analyzing their activities in the field of education, the
youth are registering their protests against inadequacies, and out
of it must emerge some positive decision leading to improvements, to
the creation of necessary formulae for action, to improve in our
educational approaches and standards.
At the National Conference on Jewish Education held in New
York last week, results of a study showed that our adolescents have
indicated that instruction in our Jewish schools "is often accompanied
by poor teaching and uninteresting material that makes for boredom."
Many of the facts presented in the course of the study point to the
adults' dilemmas and to the developing criticisms by youth, and out
. of it there is developing a challenge to Jewish communities, a demand
for better schooling, a desire for good programing.
Surveys do not always reveal the real facts, and complaints
frequently are accompanied more by a lack of understanding of
existing situations than of actual shortcomings. For instance, a success-
ful professional or business man, whose parents tried to give him
the best possible Jewish education, might emerge with an attack
that while he had gone to a Hebrew school for a number of years,
he knows very little. Is this possible for anyone to study for five or
six or seven years, anywhere, any subject, and end up knowing
nothing? The fault could lie as much with the student as with the school.
Yet, the protest must be viewed objectively. It must be studied
with the aim of assuring improvements.
It is undoubtedly true that in most instances, failure to grasp
the true meaning of Jewish teachings is traceable to a lack of in-
fluence in the home. Why should we expect a product of a non-ob-
servant home to be devout, or one hailing from a home where little
of Jewish knowledge is imparted, to develop a love for our heritage,
our folklore, the teachings of our sages?
And in judging our schools there must taken into consideration
the struggle within the community to acquire good teaching staffs.
We must acknowledge the fact that in an age when there is a
constant search for the ablest in all fields of endeavor there is the
added burden to enroll a most dedicated element to pursue the Jewish
teaching profession.
But the protests certainly lead to action. The surveys that are
being made, the studies that are currently conducted, the search for
good teachers, the ready ear that is being given to advice from our
youth—all add up to a positive approach. Much good must come
out of it all.
In the better goals to be attained, there will be need for good
programing. We shall have to resolve not to permit the vulgar to
invade our ranks. We must encourage the positive forces to dominate
in our midst, else we shall be sunk in a mire of disgustingly cheap
humor by men who are not qualified to speak and to act for us.

Zionist Youth Commission Problem

In the course of community planning, in the act of evaluating
the needs for youth activities, there is a measure of deep disappoint-
ment over the impending dissolution of a partnership between
Hadassah and the Zionist Organization of America in the sponsorship
of the American Zionist Youth Commission.
This is a most regrettable occurrence and the argument regard-
ing finances—that ZOA's allocations have been reduced and Hadassah's
have increased—is a bit disturbing, if not shocking.
Hadassah's membership is five-fold that of ZOA's, Hadassah is a
fund-raiser on a large scale and the women's movement has a func-
tioning junior division in Junior Hadassah. It is understandable why
Hadassah should be in a position to provide more adequate financial
support to a youth commission.
Both, however, are obligated to encourage the other youth move-
ment, Young Judaea, and to strive to bring youth into the movement
in ISrael's behalf. Young Judaea's decline should encourage greater
rather than reduced action. But a lack of unity, failure to cooperate,
the dismantling of an existing commission, will harm rather than help
further efforts.
The problem to be concerned with is that of the existence of the
youth commission rather than internal differences or a lack of funds.
The matter of funds should be an objective but not a deterrent to
action. Perhaps the constituencies of both Hadassah and ZOA will
take action to induce the revitalization of the youth cornmission on
a cooperative basis rather than its dissolution.
There is cause for concern that youth movements have de-
teriorated, and that should inspire action for greater unity rather
than lead to dissolution.
The argument about ZOA giving preference to the Kfar Silver
school in Israel is rather weak. For Kfar Silver there are earmarked
contributions by American Jews. The need, therefore, is to commence
an activity to encourage a revival of Young Judaea. But dissolution
of a cooperative effort is deplorable.
In our own community, Young Judaea at one time was very strong.
There are hundreds of Young Judaea graduates in our midst who might
be encouraged to undertake action in behalf of a strengthened Young
Judaea movement for their children and grandchildren and for others
who could be enrolled in the movement. We must think of the needs
in such terms,—of revival rather than dissolution of joint efforts.

Tha. Yarmulka in the Limelight

Now the yarmulka is in the limelight. The superintendent of New
York's public schools, Dr. Bernard E. Donovan, has ruled—on advice
from legal experts—that Jewish pupils desiring it will be permitted
to wear the prescribed skull caps in their classes. It was explained that
the school system does not prohibit the wearing of religious jewelry-
Magan Davids, crucifixes, etc. Therefore, why a ban on yarmulkas?
But there is a qualification: "the wearing of religious attire by teachers
would be prohibited."
Does the yarmulka create a problem in the discussion of the
separation principle? Will it be a matter for the courts to decide
whether such an attire interferes with the church-state separation idea?
The ruling in support of the yarmulka is a feather in orthodoxy's
cap. There is a strong element in orthodoxy that insists upon federal
support of parochial schools and other aid that the non-public schools
are craving for from our governmental sources. They are battling in
support of that idea and they now have a pivotal headgear in their
It will be interesting to watch the results of the new angle in the
separation controversy.
That the American Jewish Congress, a leader in defense of
the separation principle, should be elated over Donovan's ruling
on the skullcaps, points to the intricacies of church-state debates

Programming on a Higher
Level . . . Value of Hebrew
Knowledge ... Derekh Eretz

By Philip


and the complications that can develop while battling both for
religious freedom and church-state separation.
Curiously, as a coincidence, it is reported that a teacher in a Nice,
France, school sponsored by Alliance Israelite Universelle, Rabbi Saul
Naouri, was forced to resign for "unforgivable laxity." He had insisted
that pupils in the school wear yarmulkas in all classes—secular as well
as Jewish-oriented and religious—and not as the director of the school
ordered: that pupils may go about with uncovered heads during studies
in secular subjects.
Meanwhile, in Washington, at the National Interreligious Confer-
ence on Peace, at which Jewish, Protestant and Roman Catholic leaders
urged President Johnson to consider "an immediate halt" to bombing
raids in Vietnam, Bishop John J. Wright of Pittsburgh was host—as a
combined sectarian and ecumenical gesture — at a kosher breakfast to
50 of the delegates and he wore a green yarmulka in recognition of St.
Patrick's Day, Shades of Cicero: 0 tempora, o mores !

The Local High Rated Programs


B-G Attacks Govt.
as Corrupted; Poll
Sees Discontent

TEL AVIV (JTA) — Former
Premier David Ben-Gurion, con-
tinuing his battle against Premier
Levi Eshkol's leadership, asserted
here March 16 that Israel was
"tired of the present regime of
Speaking at a meeting of the Tel
Aviv branch of the Israel Worker's
Party (Rafi), he said: "What kind
of an irresponsible government is
it that raises salaries by 25 per
cent before an election and after
wards organizes a movement of sal
ary waivers to get the pay increas-
es back from the wage earners?"
The latter portion of Ben-Guri-
on's statement was a reference to
a wave of voluntary pledges by a
wide range of Israeli workers to
yield part of their pay increases
and even part of their wages. How-
ever, Ben-Gurion was the first to
charge that the waivers had been
organized by Eshkol's government.
Rafi is the dissident movement
formed by Ben-Gurion last year to

There is cause to be heartened by the newly-developing program
in our community. Serious efforts to raise the standards of adult
education are being made by several congregations, and a major
step in the direction of positive programing continues to be taken
by Midrasha, the college of Jewish studies of the United Hebrew
Pursuing a policy of enlisting the ablest scholars for discussions of
vital topics leading to a better understanding of Jewish history as it
relates to our own time, the current Midrasha lecture series again has
drawn record participation and has made a definite contribution to our
community's constructive programing. The Midrasha lecures add to challenge Eshkol's leadership.
our community's record of searching in the proper direction towards
The former premier called on his
the perpetuation of a heritage of learning, of research, of study—in- dissident party to "point the way
cluding self-study—and teaching.
in political life by encouraging vol-

Our Ethical Teachings

Out of our studies must emerge a renewed understanding of basic
ethical teachings. Midrasha is an example not only of the values of
study and self-study of history and literature, of the sects that have
made up or still make up our communal structures, but also the
values of social justice, of the high principles that demand fair dealings
among human beings.
Thus, at the Midrasha lecture last week, the able guest speaker,
Prof. Avraham Holtz, emphasized the importance of a knowledge of
the Hebrew language and indicated how certain terms become under-
standable only in the original Hebrew. He pointed to several such
terms, tzedakah, derekh eretz and others .. .
An entire tractate in the Talmud, Derekh Eretz, deals with this
interesting subject.
It could be interpreted as meaning etiquette. But it also means
manners, courtesy, politeness, respect.
There is an impressive Hebrew saying: "Derekh eretz kadmah la-
Torah"—" good manners are more important than study." Yet, derekh
eretz, which means literally "the way of the land," is replete with
significant interpretations.
In his magnificent work, "A Book of Jewish Concepts" (a Hebrew
Publishing Co. volume), Dr. Philip Birnbaum describes rabbinic rules
for dignified conduct, as related to derekh eretz, and explains.
"If others speak evil of you, let the greatest thing seem un-
important in your estimation; but if you have spoken evil of others,
let the least word seem important. If you have done much good,
let it seem little in your eyes, and say: Not of mine have I done
this, but of the good which has come to me through others. How-
ever, let a small kindness done to you appear great."
Rabbi Birnbaum's derekh eretz lesson points to rules of conduct
urging gentleness, patience, respect for age, readiness to forgive;
dwelling on moral and social duties. On the basis of talmudic teachings,
Dr. Birnbaum states, in relation to such good manners: "One must not
suddenly enter his neighbor's home, not even his own . . . Anything
that causes an odor should not be eaten in • public . . . Guests drink
wine to one another's health, the formula being l'hayyim (to your
health). A person who drains his cup in one draft is a glutton . . .
Cleanliness promotes holiness . . . The servant waiting at the table
should not wear the clothes in which he did the cooking . . . The
Sabbath garment must be distinguished from everyday apparel . . .
Keep aloof from what is ugly and whatever resembles it . . . Rabbi
Joshua ben Levi said: 'Never use an indecent expression s even if you
have to use more words to complete the sentence' . . . Man should
always express himself in fitting terms . . ."
Only one of the terms related to good manners and to proper con-
duct becomes a subject for ethical evaluations. How vast is the litera-
ture, how rich the heritage, whence stems the wisdom of our sages !

untary work and by seeing to it

that not everything is ruled by a
party machine with endless finan-
cial resources."

Meanwhile, a poll recently con-
ducted by the independent daily

"Haaretz" on the popularity e
the Eshkol government disclosed
some interesting results. The
poll was conducted among some
200 residents belonging to vari-
ous parties, professions and
ethnic groups in all parts of the
count r
The y following
three questions
were put to them: 1. Are you satis-
fied with the performance of the
government until now? 2. Are you
satisfied with the achievements of
Prime Minister Eshkol? 3. For
which party did you vote in the last
Knesset elections, and in the event
new elections would be called now,
would you vote for the same party?
The results were: To the first
two questions 57 replied in. the af-
firmative, while 122 stated that
they are disappointed. Of 82 who
voted for the parties comprising
the coalition government, 31 stated
they would not vote for them now.
The majority of the discontented

(75 per cent) gave the economic

situation and the rising cost of liv-
ing as the reasons for their disap-

pointment. Twenty per cent gave
the lukewarm manner in which the
government conducts affairs of
state as the reason for their dis-


On the other hand, "In contrast
to the Ben-Gurion cabinents, the
Eshkol government is more mod-
erate and does not seek new mil-
itary adventures," a high-rank-
ing Soviet diplomat told the cop
erspondent of Haaretz.
The diplomat further said: "How-
ever, in the sphere of politics there
The Value of Knowing Hebrew
is no difference between them.
Prof. Avraham Holtz's emphasis on the importance of Hebrew Both are friendly towards
and the need to know the sacred tongue in order fully to understand many. Were the Israel governmem
important passages, brings to mind a statement by J. G. Herder who to have demonstrated its open cps,'
position to the arming of Germany-
"It is worth studying the Hebrew language for ten years in with atomic weapons, and were it,
order to read Psalm 104 in the original."
in general, to adopt a different
We turn again to Psalm 104 and we read the "Barhi nafshi et- policy towards Bonn — then the
Adonay . . ." and even the very first line reads so flatly in translation: relationships of Soviet Russia to-
"Bless the Lord, 0 my soul . . ." How much more is expressed in wards Israel would have been a
"Barhi nafshi!" And this is so true of the prophetic writings as well as much better one."
To a question by a reporter
the Psalms, of so much in Jewish literature!
Perhaps neither Holtz's nor Herder's words will have fallen on whether Soviet Russia is ready to
apply its "Tashkent experience" to
deaf ears.
bring about an Israeli-Arab peace
The Muddled Arab Refugee Issue
There is entirely too much muddling of basic issues, and the New or whether Moscow is prepared to
York Times' sensational story about the Arab refugees, in Monday's invite Israel's foreign minister to
edition, proves it. It has been recorded time and again that the number visit Russia, the Soviet diplomat re-
of Arabs who fled from Palestine upon the creation of the State of plied with silence.
Israel approximated 450,000. That
Palestinian Arabs Train
number has grown in 18 years to
ANKARA (ZINS) — Thousands
double its size. The problem could
of Palestinian Arabs are under-
have been solved long ago, had the
going military training in Gaza,
Arabs cooperated in planned resettle-
Sinai, Iraq and Syria, the Egyp-
ment proposals. Yet the Time story re-
tian paper "El Ahram" reportS.
peats an old lie that there were "more
The newspaper adds that the Pa-
than 800,000 Arabs — most of them
lestinian Arabs also are being
Moslems, and a handful of Chistians-
trained as jet pilots with "great
who quit what is now Israel." This
"Gossips and blotters ab- success."
is untrue and the repetition is grossly sorb a lot of dirt, but they
unfair to Israel and to those who
usually get it backwards."
2—Friday, March 25, 1966
have a kinship with Israelis.

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