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May 26, 1967 - Image 34

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1967-05-26

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

Judaism's Survival in Free Society Now Challenges You th, Students Told

Can Judaism survive in a free
society? It'll be tough going, but
it can be done "if we accept the
challenge of that open society and
at the same time accept the funda-
mental traditions of Judaism," ac-
cording to Dr. Irving Greenberg,
associate professor of history at
Yeshiva University.
Dr. Greenberg, who also heads
the Riverdale Jewish Center, de-
livered the keynote address for the
first seminar in Contemporary
Jewish Ideas for Young Adults,
Sunday morning at the Esther
Berman Building, United Hebrew
For the Jews in a closed, ghetto
society, said Dr. Greenberg, fol-
lowing the "mitzvot," (command-
ments) was the only way they
could live as Jews, separated from
the gentile oppressors. The impact
of the ghetto way of life continued
to be felt by succeeding genera-
tions, whose concept of Judaism
has remained rooted in the pre-
scientific world."
The westernization of the Jew
opened up a new experience in
which the Jew was no longer
separated from the gentile. "The
sense of otherness disappeared,
and the attraction of the intel-
lectual world became reality."
Now the Jew was saying "I
want to do it HIS (the gentile's)
Consequently, "Over the past 150
years the god of the Jews has
been the westernization experience
... making Judaism into the west-
ern image."
This experience that so involved

The Jewish Parents Inktitute
the generation of today's parents tal challenge to our Jewishness." make our children love Judaism." will hold an assembly program 10
"is being wiped out," Dr. Green-
"We must train people, not build a.m. Sunday at the Jewish Center.
Still another implication of the
berg told his young audience. Nazi experience, he said, is the buildings," said Dr. Greenberg. JPI members voted recently to
"Your generation will complete it. challenge to our fundamental, "We need the re-creation of com- add a year to their program, con-
Increasingly, for young people, the Western, modern faith: the belief munity. We must rethink. A week cerned with Judaic ethics. Due to
issue is not whether the rabbi can in the goodness of man. "That of camp, an intensive learning ex- the additional program, no gradua-
speak English, but what be is say- went up in the smoke of Ausch- perience, may be of greater value tion will be held this year.
than a year of classroom experi-

The question for today's think-
ing young Jew is "Do we want to
become modern? Should we be dif-
ferent? And if so, how?" Young
intellectuals are not afraid to ask
questions that wouldn't have been
dared 200 years ago, Dr. Green-
berg said.
He added: "As long as westerni-
zation was the fundamental ques-

Fourteen teen-age girls, most in
slacks, one licking a fudgsicle,
had their eyes glued to the ani-
mated figure exploring with flying
hands the theme in Job: Why do
people suffer?
One girl offered to answer his
question. "I only know what hap-
pened in `J.B.' because I've never
read Job," she said, "but . . . "
Solomon Schimmel's class is
hardly a class at all. The girls are
intelligent, knowledgeale about
many subjects. In Judaism, they
have little or no background.
Schimmel, on the faculty of
the United Hebrew Schools high
school department, has the task
of presenting in five sessions a
palatable Judaism to these young
women, age 16 to 18, who have
suddenly discovered they are
To paraphrase one teen, "We

want to know what we are, where
we've been, where we're going."
All members of Bnai Brith
Girls, they are the first to take
part in a pilot project worked out
with the cooperation of the Bnai
Brith. Youth Organization and the
"It's not that the desire for such
a class hasn't existed before," said
Fran Rubin, the girls' adviser. "It's
just that no one has ever offered

them a chance like this."
At their first meeting, the girls
decided what they would discuss
for the remainder of the sessions.
Before Passover, their meeting
focused on the message of Pass-
over and the Exodus. Later ses-
sions would be based upon the

Jews' concept of God, on Jewish
literature and ethics.
Keeping to a pat agenda is im-

In an age when anti-Semitism
has dropped so rapidly, said Dr.
Greenberg, the fundamental ques-
tion now is "What is the real con-
tent of Jewish existence? How do
we opt for being being Jewish?
It's more than nostalgia, more
than the saccharine flavor of the
experience of being strange."
Rather, "Being a Jew is to ac-
cept my calling as a Jew. One can't
be a Jew in the abstract. If I
fight for civil rights, it's because
I go out of my election to serve
as a Jew. We have a specific, con-

"If we accept the challenge of
the free society," said Dr. Green-
berg, "if we live the mitzvot, ac-
cept our chosenness and be our-
selves in the modern world, Juda-
ism will survive. And we will re-
create the call of Sinai in a new

tion, the three divisions of Juda-
ism (Orthodox, Conservative, Re-
form) made sense. After the
National and Local Talent
Holocaust, they make little sense
because Hitler saw no difference
between Jews. The Holocaust is crete experience to go upon: Our *
making the old dividing lines less experience of freedom is Pesach.
Professional Shows
Dr. Greenberg took issue with *
He described the Exodus from
for Any Occasion
the stress on synagogue as the
Egypt as the essential experi-
salvation of the American Jew.
ence of early Judaism. ("God's
"The practices of the synagogue *
concern for man implies that
each individual is the object of
experience. We forget that the
infinite love. Man is meant to
synagogue is a building only. To
be free, and we'll not be satis-
live a textured Jewish life, we
fied until he is. The Exodus
need people. The synagogue
shaped the Jews as a people")



and the Holocaust as the essen-
tial experience of modern man.
"Suddenly, we must ask the
question, Is there a God? Or must

man save himself from this beast
called Man?" The Holocaust is also
a reminder that, "after all, we are
different, and the possibility of
total discrimination is a fundamen-

Teen Girls Gain Insight Into Judaism
in Unique UHS Study Seminar


JPI to Meet on Sunday

many reasons for their awakening

to Judaism (one said she went to
a Labor Zionist camp "by acci-
dent" and, embarrassed because
she knew nothing about Judaism,

decided to take up Hebrew; now
she intends to visit Israel), most
insist their feeling was a result

of participation in Bnai Brith and
its many religion-centered pro-
Indeed, the prime force behind

should be a place to learn what
it is to be Jewish. Why argue
about whether Jews sit together,
or whether prayers should be

said in English? The kind of
pompous language found in the
synagogue today should be in

the classroom," he said.
In short, "We need a shift in
orientation. Our future rabbis
should be laymen, and yet our
laymen are the most neglected.
Can they live a Jewish life?"
All this, he said, will take a
great investment in Jewish educa-
tion. He quoted Rabbi Jacob Neus-
ner: "We're spending more money
to make gentiles love us than to




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the girls' class was the president of
Rebecca BBG Chapter, Marilyn
Applebaum. A number of the
group's participants, "Jewish heri-
tage chairmen," will take back

what they have learned to their
One girl. 16, who had no for-
mal Jewish education said that

she signed up for the study
group "to learn about the ideas
behind Judaism. I'm confused as
to which group I wish to belong,
Conservative, Reform or Ortho-
dox." She said she hoped that
through the discussions, "I can
make some decisions about the
Another, a ninth grader, said

that until recently, "I knew abso-
lutely nothing about Judaism and
eared less. Within the last year,
my religion has become my life.
I think that this course will help
me to become even more aware
of my religion."
Many admitted they felt inade-
quate when talking to knowledge-
able Christians, who asked them
questions about Judaism; several
regretted their parents had gone
along with them when they asked
to quit religious school.
The regrets have had their ef-
fect. One girl said she felt the
course would help make her a
better Jew, "and I will be able to
make my children good Jews."

possible, however. Schimmel
wanders from the Bible to an ex-
planation of the term Common
Era to a discussion cf whether Birmingham Youth Group
ancient people were more primi- to Discuss New Judaism
tive than modern man.
The high school youth group of
The girls balk at the idea of a the Birmingham Temple will pre-

formal classroom situation, yat sent an original service based on
they claim to religiously follow the theme of "Humanistic Juda-
their extra reading "suggestions" ism: What Does It Mean to Me?"
(not assignments): a series of
The service will be held 8:30
Bnai Brith booklets on Judaism, p.m. today at the Robert Frost
which ,they use as background. A Junior High. The community is in-

number of them get together in vited. Refreshments will be served.
car pools for the ride from the

suburbs to Detroit's Esther Ber-
man Building once a week.
Friday, Ma 26, 1967-35
Although the girls enumerate



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