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June 17, 1966 - Image 2

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1966-06-17

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

Purely Commentary

Arabs versus U. S.: Comfort to Vietcong
Americans are losing their lives in Vietnam. Many of
our citizens are being maimed by Vietcong bullets.
But a group that benefits from American aid is entering
the conflict with comfort to America's enemies.
The Palestine Liberation Army, which was organized to
destroy Israel, has announced that it will send troops to assist
America's chief enemies in the Far East.
An excuse offered is that the forces are being sent to
learn guerrilla warfare in preparation for the major aim of
waging war on Israel.
In the meantime our tax dollars are going to our enemies
—to Nasser who is believed to be the chief inspirer of the so-
called Palestine Liberation Army — and to the Arab poten-
tates who are constantly rattling their sabers in their war
threats to Israel.
The insults hurled at this country from Arab quarters
have far from subsided, and the announcement of aid to be
given to the Vietcong is the height of insolence and the major
payoff for all the kindnesses that come from this country.
The White House and the State Department owe an
explanation to the American people for the unending conces-
sions that are being made to our enemies in the Middle East.
The announcement of Arab military aid to the Vietcong
is said to have been made to counteract the report that Israel's
former army chief of staff, Gen. Moshe Dayan, is going to
South Vietnam as a war correspondent. But the Palestine Lib-
eration Committee, an irresponsible body whose only purpose
is to harm Israel, has been given courteous receptions by the
world's great powers at the United Nations. Perhaps it is
because of such kindnesses that our government has now gain-
ed a new enemy. Have we invited animosity by our overzeal-
ous generosity to our abusers?
King Hussein's repudiation of the so-called Palestine
Liberation Organization was made under compulsion. The
White House and the State Department owe it to the American
people to make sure he lives up to a pledge that comes from
one who wants to make sure he continues to receive lots of
American dollars.

*

*

*

'How Odd of God`—'Jocular Polemics'

From time to time, the "ditty" "How odd of God" is quoted. The
late Lewis Browne made excellent use of it in one of his books. To
many people, the author of these lines was unknown. A letter in a
recent issue of the London Jewish Chronicle brings to light again
both authorship and the intention of writing it.
The author was commenting on a reference to him in a London
Jewish Chronicle article and he wrote to comment:
SIR.—In your issue of January 14 Mr. Gabriel Costa
refers to me as the author of the famous (or notorious)
lines:
How odd
Of God
To choose
The Jews.
May I first say that I am not yet "the late W. N. Ewer."
that is a question of fact. Whether I am "characteristically
cynical" is a matter of opinion, on which I am, I suppose,
the last person to have an unbiased view.
But may I take the opportunity to relate the origin of
this "shortest poem in the English language"?
It was not, in any way, a statement of my thoughts
either about theology or about racialism. It was a jest.
I threw it out one evening during a warm argument
about something or other. A fireside argument with one of
my greatest friends—a Jew.
I might describe it as "jocular polemics." But it took
his fancy. He repeated it with appreciation. And, since we
have all been taught that brevity is the soul of wit, it came
to be quoted as a witticism.
I suppose (why should I be falsely modest about it?)
that it was.
But I would like to make it clear, once and for all,
that it was no more. It was not an expression of opinion
either about God, or about the Jews.
And I could wish that, whenever it is printed, it could
be accompanied by Artemus Ward's once-famous footnote:
"N.B. This is a goak."
W. N. .Ewer,
26 Belsize Grove, N.W. 3.
This is interesting both as a claim to "jocular polemics" as well
as in providing data about an author whose lines have become famous.
All who quote about the chosenness of Israel—henceforth make note
of the above.

*
*
*
Sephardic Pronunciation — An Halakhic Debate.

There is a strong tendency in Jewish communities to turn from the
Ashkenazic to the Sephardic pronunciation. Sephardic usage in Israel
and the preference for it in many schools outside Israel have given it
new status.
But in Glasgow the Beth Din has ruled that a changeover from the
Ashkenazi in synagogues and Hebrew schools "would at present be
contrary to the halakha." Reportedly, reference is made in this ruling
to decisions "by the outstanding authorities on halakha."
This has led to a debate over both the Ashkenazi-Sephardi issue and
halakhic regulations and some interesting letters have been published in
the London Jewish Chronicle. Noteworthy among them is this one from
(Rabbi Dr.) Louis Jacobs of the New London Synagogue:
"One of these (halakhic) authorities is presumably Dayan
Weiss, of Manchester (`Minhath Yitzhak' — or, as the Glasgow
Beth Din will have it, "Minchas Yitzchok"—Vol. III, London, 1962,
No. 9, pp. 20-21). Dayan Weiss gives three reasons for prohibiting
the change. (1) It is said that each tribe has its own gateway to
heaven and it is, therefore, wrong for an Ashkenazi to adopt to
Sephardi rite (nusah). (2) The Ashkenazi pronunciation is super-
ior in that it distinguishes between a kametz and a pathah. (3)
Those who clamour for the change do so on nationalistic not reli-
gious grounds.
"The halakhic flimsiness of the arguments is evident. The ref-

Enemies of U. S. in False
Garb of-Liberators . • . Issue
Over Pronunciation of Hebrew

By Philip Yeshiva U. Gets
Slomovitz Gift for Hebrew

erence quoted in (1) is to rite, not to pronunciation. Furthermore,
it is a fact of history that the early Hasidim did not hesitate to
change even the rite. With regard to (2), if it has any force the
argument would seem to demand that the Sephardim change to
Ashkenazi in the interests of greater accuracy. In "Lithuanian"
Ashkenazi there is no distinction between holm and tzeri. In
Ashkenazi pronunciation in general there is no distinction between
sarnekh and than (for a cautious but far more reasonable approach
in this matter see Rabbi J. J. Weinberg's `Seride Esh,' Vol. II,
Jer., 1962, No. 5, pp. 7-12). (3) is a wholly gratuitous assumption.
"The alarming feature of the discussion is the manner in which
personal opinions, which have hardly anything to do with hala-
kha, are presented as if they were the halakha, the authority of
which is then invoked to forbid change.
"The many Ashkenazi synagogues in Israel, and one outside it
(the New London is one), which have introduced the change have
equally strong and, they hold, irresistible arguments for acting as
they believe Judaism would have them do. That they do not claim
halakhic sanction for their views is because they are convinced
that to blur the traditional distinction between halakha and aggada
is to do service to neither."
Another correspondent, W. S. Mendelsohn of Birminghain, poses
the question.
"Taking the decision of the Glasgow Beth Din in respect of
Shepardi pronunciation as the ruling, would the learned dayanim
please inform the public which of the ten to twelve various dialects
used by various groups of East European Jews is the right one?"
Writing in a similar vein but at greater length, J. H. Taylor hurls
his challenge in this delightful fashion:
"You report (April 29) that the Glasgow Beth Din has issued a
statement that a change from the Ashkenazi to the Sephardi pro-
nunciation of Hebrew (in the synagogues and Hebrew classes in
Glasgow) would at present be contrary to the halakha. This report
emboldens me to submit another aspect, quite apart from halakha.
"Every language has its dialects. They are, indeed, informative
and instructive. When I hear a Jew declare `aysay shollaym' I know
he is most probably a Litvak. "Oisay shooloim" reveals a Polish,
while `Ousye sholoum' shows an English Jew.
"Would anyone dare—or, indeed, want—to tell a Scotsman or a
Welshman or a Liverpulian to pronounce his English in the Oxford
or Cambridge manner? The English dialect helps me to recognize,
too, an American or Australian or. Cockney. Why should not Hebrew
retain its various pronunciations?
"I am confident that in the course of time there will be different
dialects even in Israel, small though the country is. I am confirmed
in this belief by the Biblical record that as far back as the days of
the Judges there was already a dialect in the Holy Land. The Gilea-
dites pronounced the word 'shibboleth,' whereas the Ephramites
said `sibboleth' because 'they could not frame to pronounce it.'
(Judges 12, 6).
"Why, then, should we surrender our dialect of Hebrew? Let us
stick to our dialect now getting so very old."
We have been more fortunate in this country. Sephardic pronuncia-
tion is beginning to be heard more often in synagogues. Schools have
adopted it. Perhaps even the strictest adherents to halakha in our midst
would hesitate to claim halakhic proscription for the pronunciation used
by all Jews in Israel and by increasing numbers mehutz la-aretz. That
is why the debate in England appears more amusing than principled.

Teachers College

NEW YORK (JTA)—A pioneer-
ing four year college with experi-
mental approaches designed to
meet a critical shortage of quali-
fied teachers in Jewish education
will be established by Yeshiva Uni-
versity, it was announced by Dr.
Samuel Belkin, president. The new
college is be
made possible
a gift of $1,2.
000 from philan-
thropist J akob
Michael, in me-
mory of his late
wife, Erna Sond-
heimer Michael,
herself a noted
philanthropist.
Dr. Belkin said
the Erna Michael
College of Heb-
raic Studies will
offer "a distinct
departure from
the current pro-
grams of Jewish
teacher education
Michael in the United
States." As the first all-day Am-
erican college to provide liberal
arts and professional as well as
Jewish studies, the new school's
unusually broad curriculum will
qualify its students for a Bachelor
of Arts degree.
The tuition-free college's other
innovations include a full year of
study in Israel for all students dur-
ing their junior year, on the job
laboratory experiences, summer
sessions in Jewish educational
camps, an intensive guidance pro-
gram designed to counteract the
trend toward "depersonalization"
in American schools for teacher
education, and utilization of audio-
visual and other new communica-
tions techniques.
The Erna Michael College of
Hebraic Studies is being develop-
ed, Dr. Belkin said, in response to
a crisis stemming from a vast in-
crease in, the number of students
seeking Jewish education and a
concurrent failure of teacher train-
ing institutions to supply sufficient
qualified graduates.

,

-

-

John Rankin, Anti-Semite, Exposed in Congress

BY MILTON FRIEDMAN

(Copyright, 1966, JTA, Inc.)

WASHINGTON—Should a U. S.
Veterans Hospital be named in
honor of the late John E. Rankin,
Congressman from Mississippi, who,
during World War II, made
speeches disparaging American sol-
diers of the Negro race and vilify-
ing Jews?
Rep. Rankin served as chairman
of the House Committee on Vet-
erans Affairs from 1921 to 1953.
During the war years he termed
Negro soldiers "cowardly" and re-
ferred to Jewish servicemen as
"Communistic kikes." In a speech
on the House floor, he said "my
information is that 75 percent of
the members of the Communist
Party in this country are Yiddish."
He uttered vulgar personal insults
against Jewish members of Con-
gress.
The Anti-Defamation League
of Bnai Brith termed Rankin a
"notorious anti-Semite."
Rankin has been dead for sev-
eral years and his brand of vile
trades have disappeared from the
halls of Congress. Then came H. R.
14909, a bill to memorialize "out-
standing Americans." The bill
named veterans facilities for such
respected personages as the be-
loved late Speaker of the House,
Sam Rayburn, of Texas, but added
Rankin's name to the list. Rankin
was to have a V.A. Hospital in
Jackson, Miss., named for him.
The bill came before the House
on the very day that Mississippi
was the scene of the ambush shoot-
ing of Negro rights marcher
James Meredith. Rep. Seymour
Halpern, New York Republican,
serves on the Veterans Affairs
Committee. He arose on the House
floor to lead opposition to the Ran-
kin legislation.

Rep. Halpern said that "with
Americans of all races, creeds,
and religions, serving valiantly
in our armed forces, it would be
an insult, not only to Veterans
of minority groups being treated
in this hospital but to all Ameri-
cans, to have a Federal facility
named after a notorious racist
and anti-Semite."
He added that "it seems tragi-
cally ironic for President Johnson
to hold the White House Confer-
ence on Civil Rights in the same
week in which this Congress would
honor the late Congressman Ran-
kin, who, in 1951, proposed a bill
for a segregated Veterans Hospi-
tal for Negroes."
Owing to Rep. Halpern's floor
fight, and the supporting stand of
Representative William Fitts Ryan
and Theodore Kupferman, both
New Yorkers, the bill was stricken
from the consent calendar. Under
rules of House procedure, a meas-
ure may be removed from this
calendar if three Congressmen

voice objection to its inclusion.
This defers action for a consider-
able period. It will probably cause
the entire bill to be redrafted
with Rankin's name deleted.
Rep. Halpern would like to

see the Jackson, Miss., Veterans

Hospital named for one of the
several Mississippi Negro sol-
diers who gave their lives in
Viet Nam under heroic circuir-
stances.
National Commander Miltorf:
Waldor of the Jewish War Vet-
erans said "it would be a step
backward in history to resurrect
the outmoded bigotry personified
by Rankin to name in his memory
a Veterans Hospital that would
treat Veterans of all races who suf-
fered wounds in Viet Nam or else-
where?' He said this would "un-
dermine morale" of servicemen

now fighting in Viet Nam and
"make a mockery of the sacri-
fices of wounded soldiers of Negro,
Jewish and other minority back-
grounds."

Presidents' Conference Revises
Structure to Become Over-All Body

NEW YORK (JTA) — The Con-
ference of Presidents of Major
American Jewish Organizations
has voted to transform itself from
a group of individual presidents
of organizations to an over
body entitled to speak on behalf
of the "overwhelming majority"
of Jews in this country on prob-
lems concerning Jews in various
parts of the world, it was an-
nounced by Dr. Joachim Prinz,
chairman of the conference.
Dr. Prinz indicated that the re-
organized body, representing 21
major American Jewish groups,

will now concern itself with the
whole range of international Jew-
ish issues.
Since its establishment in 1955
as an informal group of presidents
of 17 American Jewish organtas
tions, the conference dealt pd.
marily with threats to Israel's se-
curity. The American Jewish Com-
mittee is not a member of the con-
ference, but Dr. Prinz expressed
hope that it would join it.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
2—Friday, June 17, 1966

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