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March 17, 1967 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1967-03-17

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The Momentous Quarter Century

!Dramatic History Recorded in Our First 1,500 Issues

The 25-year history chronicled in The Jewish
News is a review of one of the most dramatic
eras in the long record of the Jewish people.
We were engaged in a tragic world conflict,
with the forces of democracy pitched in battle
against the demonic elements who sought to
dominate over the freedom loving nations and to
destroy our people.
The first issue of The Jewish News appeared
in a time of crisis. The entire world was on trial.
There, was to be a choice between submission to
bigots and to dictators and the right to assert
human freedoms with honor, with dignity and
with self-respect.

There were forces in our midst who aimed
at our destruction. Coughlinism was rampant;
anti-Semitic elements flourished, brandishing for-
geries, accusing Jews of guilt for all the sufferings
of mankind. Instead of taking into account the
plight of the Jewish people, the homelessness of
millions, the statelessness of the dispossessed, the
bigots who formed a lunatic fringe added fuel to
the fires of hatred and gloated over the temporary
Nazi triumphs.
Then this nation was drawn into the world
war. There began an era of such momentuous
significance—for humankind, for the sciences that
were developed, including the deadly weapons of
war; for those who desired to rule over an en-
slaved world and those of us who were determined
that freedom shall not perish from the earth—
that the 25 years covered by The Jewish News
history may well be viewed as one of the most
serious on record.

Thousands of pages of early issues of The
Jewish News recorded the mass slaughter of
millions of Jews at the hands of depraved hordes
of maniacs. They told of the helplessness of the
victims but there 'were manifestations of rebellion
against oppression, and there was a resistance.
This is part of the tragic history during which
we undertook to make our state's communities
properly informed on what was occurring in the
In the ensuing years the problems involving
our people and our neighbors multiplied and there
emerged internal challenges involving the rights
of all human beings, regardless of the color of
their skin, to equality as citizens. We are proud
to be counted in the ranks of the civil rightists.
There is no other way of claiming a share in the
just path towards righteousness—and there can
be no justice for all the world until we will have
assured it for those in our own midst.
It has taken scores of historians to write
hundreds of books, analyzing the events of the
past quarter century. It would require encyclopedic
tomes to review the volumes incorporating the
1,300 issues which mark, with this edition, the
conclusion of 25 years of Jewish News history.

Suffice it to say that in that era we were
privileged to see the retention of democratic
ideals by this nation and the other free countries
on the globe. We have witnessed a defiance of
intolerance and bigotry by the Jewish people. We
are living witnesses to the attainment of higher
goals for all mankind.
In this quarter century we have witnessed
an end to much of the homelessness that has

plagued the Jewish people. With the emergence
of the State of Israel, we have had a share in the
building of the prospering community which has
welcomed hundreds of thousands of dispossessed
and stateless fellow Jews.
It has been our privilege to be living witnesses
of and participants in the historic task of facili-
tating the treks towards liberty by escapees from
persecutions and of seeing the emergence of a
proud people which defies further threats to its

In the quarter century we are now concluding
in our publishing venture we have seen a rise
in communal interest. Our gifts to humanitarian
causes have multiplied six-fold since the appear-
ance of our first issue. We have given priority to
the spiritual and cultural values inherent in Jewish
programming. A new dignity has been attained
and our approaches to Jewry's needs, to our rela-
tionships with our neighbors. to Israel and to
world problems, are marked by an unquestioned
dignity. We have abandoned fears. We believe that
a new courage has been added to our status as
Americans and as Jews.
• The quarter century during which we have
served American Jewry has given us the deep
satisfaction of seeing wholesome results. We begin
a new page in our history by retaining confidence
that lessons of the past will stand us in good
stead, that we shall be privileged to serve our
people and our nation in a continuing spirit of
faith in America and dedication to the high spiritual
ideals of the People Israel.

The English-Jewish Press: and Jewry's Conscience

(Continued from Page 2)

affiliated with this vital agency? It has
been estimated that 38 per cent of these
13,000 are above the age of 55, that 62
per cent of the total are over 45 . . .
Where are those in the 20s and 30s and
the early 40s?

In 1901, when there were less than a
million Jews in the U.S., the JPS had a
membership of 5,000. In 1910 when our
number doubled, there still were only
5,500 members. But in 1919, when the
Yiddish press still predominated, there
were 16,000. That was a great year. Then
came the year 1923 with a drop to 11.000,
1925 with a drop to 8,000 and in 1934,
when Hitler already was preparing the
crematoria for our people, the JPS mem-
bership dropped to 4,200. How do we ac-
count for such indifference?

In a volume by Edward Wakin and
Fr. F. Scheuer. entitled THE DEROMAN-
published by Macmillan, the authors state
that "in 25 years we shall not recognize
the Catholic Church in America." We have
preceded the Catholics in non-recognition
of the Jew's role and activities. Already
instead of KaNana we have ignosticism,
the Beth Tefilla and Beth Haknesset has
been replaced in some instances by
spiritual Hiltons, instead of tefilla you
have verbose ecumenia, Tora is replaced
by score card. daled amot by 18 holes, the
shtetl by suburbia and the shadhan by
a computer.

But we retain knishes and latkes and
blintzes and gefilte fish, and we are com-
pelled to recall the rebuke of Max Nordau
to indifferent Jews, in his speech at one
of the early World Zionist Congresses:

And now we have a warning from
Prof. Petuchovsky of Hebrew Union Col-
lege who foresees that in about 100 years
Jews in this country may number not in
the millions but in the thousands. Com-
putations have indicated that while other
elements are-growing by leaps and bounds,
while by the end of this century there
will be nearly 400,000,000 people in this
country, the Jewish figure will remain
at 5,500,000 and if and when that mate-
rializes we may be affected politically:
our influence will be nil. But we need
not really worry too much on that score.
If we are fewer in numbers, we still are
certain to have our good judges, our
great scientists, our eminent mathema-

ticians. We'll surely count for something.
But there are blind spots in the or-
ganized life of American Jewry. We resort
to many shibboleths with pragmatism.
Conventions of national organizations have
been concerning themselves with the ques-
tion of whether or not the 6,000,000 Ameri-
can Jews are losing their identity through
assimilation. We hear a lot of rambling,
garrulous, inchoherent talk about Jewish
culture, about education, how much money
we need to put up buildings for one pro-
ject or another.

And we are the great fund-raisers!
'Most of the news . about Jews is about
their campaigns! Is it any wonder that

the unknowing, the ignorant continue to
link us with money, that Israeli youth
who should know better and who should
have- a stronger link with us know us
more as the rich uncles than as the creative
force we are to a small degree and could
be to a great extent?

or a rabbi becomes an agnostic, there is a
sensation and the general press picks up
sensational news — and our people become
frightened and through fear become shal-
lowly informed about scandals or pogroms

No one, during the entire debate over
Jewish survival and Jewish identity has
yet raised the serious issue created by the
fact that the overwhelming majority of
American Jews are without information
about their heritage, their kinsmen here
and abroad. When there are crises in the
Middle East or Russia is exposed as anti-
Semitic, or a gun is displayed on a pulpit,

I reject the polemics of our so-called
national leaders. many of whom are resort-
ing to sheer headline-hunting in their lip
service to CULTURE, while their con-
stituents remain uninformed, a people
without knowledge about themselves and
their fellow Jews, without an inkling
_ about their historic heritage, without
knowledge of Jewry's vital needs and

Meet the Press


Editor, Jewish Telegraphic Agency

It has long been my contention that a Jewish communitY
has the kind of local English - Jewish newspaper it deserves
. . . The Jewish community of Detroit is one of the best Jewish com-
munities in the country . . . Its local newspaper, The Jewish News,
is therefore one of the best in the field . . Its editor, Philip Slomo-
vitz, is tops in the English-Jewish press not only because he is a good
journalist but also because of his dedication to everything that is
Jewish . . . To be a good editor of a Jewish publication requires not
only journalistic ability, but also a good Jewish background and solid
Jewish knowledge . . . An English-Jewish editor must master not only
the English language, but must know well Hebrew, Yiddish and a few
more languages of countries from which Jewish news emanates . .
He - must be deeply steeped in Jewish history, know ancient and mod-
em Jewish literature, understand the currents and under-currents in
Jewish life in this country and abroad . . . He must participate in Jew-
ish communal activities and be part and parcel of the community .. .
He must understand Jewish events and must follow general events
related to Jewish interests . . . He must anticipate events and be well
qualified to analyze them and interpret them clearly and properly to
his readers . .. He must, therefore, understand world affairs no less
than Jewish affairs . .. And—in addition to quite a number of other
qualifications—he must also enjoy the confidence of Jewish leader-
ship of all shades and movements .. . Phil Slomovitz, who now cele-
brates the 25th anniversary of his paper, The Jewish News, possesses
all these qualifications . . . No wonder he is highly respected, not only
in his own community in Detroit, but also among American Jewish
leaders everywhere in the country . . . An ardent Zionist since his
youth, he is also highly respected in Israel because of his many years
of active participation in the Zionist cause . . . As to his role in the
profession of English-Jewish journalism, he is still considered the
spark-plug of the American Jewish Press Association many years after
having been one of the founders and the first president of this organ-
ization of editors and publishers of the English-Jewish weeklies.


Friday, March 17, 1967-9

It is only when the proper status is
granted to the presently predominant
press serving American Jewry, providing
for a reaching out into every nook and
corner of this great land, that we might
see the emergence of a truly well-informed

These newspapers I refer to need
readers. They need subscribers. They need
advertisers. They need the encouragement
that is so vital to survival.

At the risk of repetition I'd like to
quote again a famous Mark Twain story.
When he was the editor of a western
newspaper, he received this inquiry from
one of his readers: "Dear Sir: When I
opened my newspaper this morning,
there was a spider inside: does this
mean good luck or bad luck for me?"

Twain replied: "Finding a spider in
your newspaper did not mean either
good luck or bad luck for you. He was
merely looking to see which merchants
advertised, so that he could go to the
store of one who did not do so, build his
web over the door, and remain peaceful
and undisturbed for the rest of his days..'

This applies to all of our areas. If we
are indifferent, the swan song will lull us
into permanent oblivion in everything we
do and hope for in Jewish communities
and will only result in spinning a web by a
spider who will settle in homes of uncon-
cern and apathy. But by evidencing a devo-
tion to community, by providing the best
media of communications for our people
we provide survival and faith that stems
from assurance of realization of the
Prophecy of Habakkuk: VE-TZADDIK BE-
E-IIUNATO YIKHYEH — "the righteous
shall live by his faith."

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