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March 22, 1968 - Image 12

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1968-03-22

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

, 12—Friday, March 22, 1968

New Orleans Mardi Gras: Judenrein

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

.

By BEN GALLOB

(Copyright 1968, JTA Inc.)

When the U.S. Navy yielded last
January to a nationwide storm of
protest and reversed an order
allowing crewmen on ships visiting
New Orleans to accept invitations
to strictly segregated Mardi Gras
•parties, what the uproar did not
disclose was that another standing
Mardi Gras tradition is for a few
prominent N e w Orleans Jewish
families quietly to leave town for
the duration of the carnival.
The reason they do so, accord-
ing to a report in a recent issue of
the New Yorker magazine, is that

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they want to avoid the embarrass
ment of being present during the
event with the knowledge they will
be ignored when invitations are
sent out for the balls of the mos t
socially prestigious carnival organ
izations. According to New Yorke r
observer Calvin Trillin, the basi s
for the exclusion is the existenc e
in New Orleans of "the last signifi
cant en c l a v e of discrimination
against Jews" — the businessmen
luncheon clubs.
The leading carnival organiza-
tions — "the krewes of Comus,
Montus and Proteus"—all have
close ties with the luncheon
clubs. It is a fact of life in New
Orleans that "no Jew is permit-
ted to attend the Comus ball on
Mardi Gras Night" and it is an
inescapably parallel fact "that
no New Orleans Jew is permit-
ted to enter the Boston Club for
a business lunch at any time."
It follows inexorably that "the
most prestigious Carnival groups
will never invite Jews to their
balls."

There is some irony in the fact
that the first Rex — the King of
the Carnival — was a Jew named
Louis Salomon. It is true, the ob-
server noted, that the Rex organ-
ization permits Jews to attend its
celebrations and even has a few
Jewish members. In theory a Jew
could once again be King of the
Carnival. In practice, the King is
traditionally a member of the Bos-
ton Club, which excludes Jews,
Moreover, a Jewish Rex could not
follow the custom of taking his
court to pay tribute to Comus —
he would not be allowed in the
Comus ball, according to Trillin.
The report noted that club dis-
crimination is the most awkward
to fight and that victims of such dis-
crimination "are often the people
least likely to get into a public
fight on any issue," which, the
article indicated, was "certainly
true" in New Orleans, where the
Jewish community is dominated
by long-established German-Jewish
families that for years have been
"almost indistinguishable f r o m

their gentile peers except at
lunchtime and during Mardi Gras
season."
Observer Trillin reported that
the local board of the Anti- Defa-
mation League of Bnai Brith
"has refrained from raising the
matter publicly — thereby mak-
ing it easier for the local news-
papers to maintain the respect-
ful silence for which they are
known." Parenthetically it was
noted that this year even the
New Orleans Times-Picayune
could not totally ignore the con-
troversy over the Navy order.
It carried an Associated Press
story in which it inserted the in-
formation that "Carnival balls
are private and admission is by
invitation only."
According to the New Yorker,
the accepted American way to deal
with bias in businessmen's clubs
is to ignore it Sometimes, a news-
paper does bring it up, as hap-
pened in Kansas City last fall, the
newspaper b e i n g not the city's
daily or Jewish weekly but the
National Catholic Reporter. In
such cases, the report observed,
the accepted American response
of the confronted club president is
that his club does not discrimin-
ate against people because of race,
creed or color, and many even
have a Jewish member or two,
"although he can't think of one at
the moment."
A leader of the New Orleans
Jewish community told Trillin that
he was not concerned in the least
by the exclusion of Jews from the
carnival and that what did bother
him was that "so •much money
needed in other places does not
get there." It is very difficult,
Trillin reported, to raise money in
New Orleans for cultural or charit-
able purposes. He reported that
one widely accepted explanation
was that the people who should be
the leaders in such endeavors
were too busy deciding "which
debutantes will be in the Comus
court" and that the people who
should be the contributors spend
too much money on costumes and
formal gowns for Mardi Gras.

Spread of Russian Orthodox Church
Charge Against Israel Seen as New
Danger to Jews in the Soviet Union

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LONDON (JTA)—Soviet officials
have given wide publicity in the
Soviet Union to a charge by a
Russian Orthodox Church official
that Israel has desecrated Ortho-
dox churches and other church
properties in the occupied areas,
it was reported here by usually
reliable sources.
The sources said that the
charges, which have been indi-
gnantly denied by Israeli Presi-
dent Shazar and other officials,
reportedly were circulated because
Soviet authorities were concerned
by evidence that many S -o vie t
citizens still were sympathetic to
Israel and resentful of the open-
handed spending by Arab leaders
of their oil wealth while the Soviet
consumer remains deprived of con-
sumer goods, and the Soviet Union
provides substantial aid to the
Arab regimes.
The distribution of the charges,
made by Archbishop Nikodim, a
political figure in the Russian
Orthodox Church, was seen as
carrying a danger to Soviet Jews
as a clear piece of anti-Jewish
propaganda in a religious setting.
JERUSALEM (JTA)—The for-
eign ministry branded as "slander"
and "totally unfounded lies" a

College and Synagogue
in Australia Attacked

MELBOURNE (JTA) — Seven-
foot-wide swastikas underlined by
the word "heil" were discovered
on the walls of the Moriah Jewish
Primary College and its adjoining
synagogue. Melbourne worship-
pers, on their way to the syna-
gogues to commemorate the Purim
festival, were greeted by 14 swas-
tika desecrations, synagogue of-
ficials reported.

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President Zalman Shazar, to
whom the charges were addressed,
expressed amazement at them. They
contained no details of the alleged
damage nor did they say which
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