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August 05, 1966 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1966-08-05

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

Ancedotes From
the Mid rash

The Salesman of Idols
Once Terah left his son Abram
in his shop to sell the idols which
he had fashioned. An old man
wished to buy a fresh idol for his
birthday. Abram said: "Here is a
new idol, completed this very day.
Do you not think that you are of
more importance than a god a day
old?" The graybeard left in con-
'fusion, and Abram did not sell
the idol.
"You are incompetent as a sales-
man," said Terah. "I shall try you
out as a priest." Abram asked his
mother to prepare a tasty dish for
the idols. He then took a large axe,
smashed all the idols with the
exception of the largest one, in
whose hand he placed the axe.
When Terah returned, Abram said:
"The large idol became incensed
at the presumption of the others
in wishing to partake of the food
before him, and he smashed them."
Terah was angry at this conduct on
the part of his son and informed
King Nimrod that the youth had
desecrated the temple.
- Nimrod asked Abram: "Why do
you not worship my god?"
Abram replied: "Is it an idol of
wood or stone that you mean? If
so, how can I worship that which
I have seen made before my own
"Nay, those are for fools," said
Nimrod. "My god is the consuming
fire that gives light and destroys."
"But how can fire be god if
water quenches it?" asked Abram.
"Then worship water," com-
manded the king.
"But a cloud is mightier, carry-
ing water where it wills."
"Worship the cloud then."
"But wind is stronger, for it dis-
perses the clouds."
"Then worship wind."
"But man withstands wind, and
I cannot worship man because
death overcomes him."—Bereshit
Rabbah, 38:19.

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Threat of Assimilation, German Questions
Highlight Opening Talks of WJ Congress

(Continued from Page 1)
a cter as a specific collective
entity." This applied to all aspects
of Jewish life.
"In many co u n t r i e s," Dr.
Goldmann continued, "especially
in the most important Jewish
community in the world, the
United States, there is a tend-
ency among some religious lead-
ers and their followers to equate
the Jewish religion with others,
to make out of the Jewish re-
ligion another modern church
and to forget that the Jewish
people was never only a re-
ligious group" but a "combina-
tion of peoplehood, religion, and
the bearer of a total civiliza-
While welcoming discussion be-
tween Jewish and other religious
leaders on moral obligations—safe-
guarding peace, 6ie fight against
poverty and the protection of
rights and liberties—Dr. Goldmann
said "the exaggerated zeal of
many religious leaders for so-
called dialogues with religious
leaders of other churches" on
"purely religious ideologies and
religions" could lead "to a weak-
ening and gradual elimination of
the specific traits of what one calls
the Jewish religion."
If assimilation is not stopped
"from the inside" it could lead
in a relatively short period to the
loss of large parts of the young
Jewish generation, the WJC leader
stressed. "We have to develop
new priorities in our life," he said.
"Our future does not depend any
longer on the fight against anti-
Semitism, on defense, on relief and
philanthropy, or organizational
competition. It depends on look-
ing for new values and sources
of inspiration."
Dr. Goldmann declared that the
priority "given yesterday to the
fight against anti-Semitism must
be accorded today to Jewish edu-
cation. The effort invested in the
past in relief must concentrate in
the future on cultural creative-
Reporting the situation of the
3,000,000 Jews in the Soviet Union,
Dr. Goldmann said "despite anti-
Semitic tendencies here and there
in Russia, as in many other parts
of the world, the individual. Jew-
ish citizen is not persecuted, is
not denied his political rights or
his economic existence, or his pos-
sibilities in participating in the
scientific, cultural and artistic life
of his country, although in certain
s p h e r es some discrimination
The problem was the denial to
the Jewish minority of "facilities
to live their lives as a Jewish col-
lective group with a grave danger
that we may lose this second larg-
est community in the course of one
or two generations," he stated.
Following the keynote address
of Dr. Goldmann, a program of
action "to counter the possibility
of drop-outs eroding Jewish con-
tinuity" was outlined by Samuel
Bronfman, vice-president of the
Bronfman made his remarks at
the session of the American Jew-
ish Congress Assembly, at which
he presided and during which
there was a general discussion of
Jewish matters.
Stating that, while the world
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extreme tendencies that might
"generate another Hitler," Bronf-
man added that there was "the
sorry possibility that an atmo-
sphere of economic security, of
great freedom in every sphere of
human activity may lead to a
subtle and disastrous erosion of our
To counter the challenge, Bronf-
man proposed the following four-
point program:
1. "D e vise and provide a
thorough, modern Jewish teaching
for Jewish children, stressing the
heroics and successes pointing up
the lessons of grim and dangerous
times. But the emphasis must be
on modern teaching and in the
revelance of a teaching in the
democracies of the 20th Century.
If this requires a pedagogical rev-
olution, let us be courageous
enough to initiate it.
2. "We must have a solid found-
ation for a continuing change, a
continuing and ever-grow bond be-
tween the future generations of
Israel and Jews in many other
lands. In the same way, the
World Jewish Congress must safe-
guard the bonds between different
communities themselves.
3. "We must develop our or-
ganization and welcome the af-
filiation of small communities in
remote areas of the world. We
are in a trust position for many
of the 64 countries affiliated. We
must encourage association with
other major Jewish bodies dedi-
cated to preserving the Jewish
4. "We must act with dedication
and resolve, with courage and
thoughtfulness wherever the well-
being of Jews is threatened,
wherever the Jewish religion and
culture suffers setbacks or dis-
Bronfman noted in the course of
his remarks that the "Jews in
the USSR and her satellites pose
a very special kind of problem.
It is an important agenda item
for Jews everywhere."
He added that there was "some
reason to believe that the World
Jewish Congress action of sober
protegt, of studied analysis and of
useful demarches and of attract-
ing world opinion has performed
very tangible results. There seems
more room for optimism today
than at any time for over a quar-
ter of a century."
Considerable controversy de-
veloped at the Congress session
when it was learned that one
of the speakers would be Eugen
Gerstenmaier, president of the
West German Parliament, who
participated in Thursday's sym
posium on "Germans and Jews."
Delegates representing Mapam
and Herut announced publicly at
the fifth plenary session that they
would boycott the symposium.
The two parties announced the
boycott after WJC delegates re-
jected a proposal by Mordechai
Ben-Toy, Israel's Minister of
Housing, a Mapam leader, to
amend the agenda in view of the
opposition by the two factions to
the participation of German rep-
The WJC plenary rejected Ben-
Tov's proposal by a two-thirds
majority and also voted down a
motion that the symposium deal
with anti-Semitism instead of Ger-
man-Jewish relations.
Asserting that a boycott of the
symposium at this stage would be
both unwise and unacceptable, Dr.
Nahum Goldmann, WJC president,
told the session that relations
with Germans were not a new
The government of Israel had
such relations as did the Jewish
people, Dr. Goldmann declared,
adding that he himself went to
Germany several times a year on
Jewish business. He said he did
not do this for pleasure, but as
a duty. He expressed the belief
that the symposium would have
beneficial effects and produce new
ideas and new attitudes.

Explaining the purpose of the
symposium in a prepared state-
ment, Dr. Goldmann asserted:
"This symposium has caused
some doubts and many misunder-
standings. The leadership of the
World Jewish Congress regards the
open and frank discussion of this
difficult and delicate problem as
necessary, just because the prob-
lem is far from being solved, de-
spite the indemnification payments
and the normalization of relations
between Israel and the German
Federal Republic.
"After what happened in the
Hitler period, it is obvious that
it will take quite some time until
German-Jewish relations will be
psychologically and spiritually
normalized, and recent symp-
toms of a new anti- S e mitic ally
colored nationalism in Germany
have given cause to worries and
fears. On the other hand, to ig-
nore this problem and not to take
(Continued on Page 9)

8—August 5, 1966





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