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April 05, 1968 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1968-04-05

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Purely Commentary

The Presidency and Dignity Among Candidates
. . . Race Issue and the Quandary of Afflicted
Merchants .. . Multiple Devotions

By Philip

Maurice Zackheim—Scholar, Zionist, Devout Leader

Stunning White House News . . . Dignity Among Campaigners .. . Humphrey's Availability

111aurice Zackheim's death removes from the scene of Jewish
life one of our community's most scholarly figures, a reognized
leader in important movements, a devout Jew whose knowledge was
intermingled with dedication to Jewry's great needs.
It as not only as a past president of Congregation Shaarey
Zedek, the Zionist Organization of Detroit and of the United Hebrew
Schools that he figured so highly in Jewish ranks. As a Hebraist
and Talmudist, as one who personally became inseparable from
Jewish movements, he labored unceasingly for Zionism and was
among the pioneers in the ranks of the builders of the foundation
of the Jewish State.
And he was generous in his giving, personally setting the pace
for generosity to Zionist causes, to Allied Jewis'a Campaigns, to
the Keten Hayesod, to Hebrew educational projects, to the Jewish
National Fund.
The Zackheim record is among the richest in Jewish ranks and
his name is blessed in the chronicles of our people.

As of 9:30 p.m. last Sunday, it was our deep conviction that LBJ would remain in the White
House through 1972. Now we have a new American aura. Those who hope for a "draft" will surely be
disillusioned. The battle for leadership is on in earnest. And the man who was so viciously abused less
than a week ago has .regained admiration as suddenly as he has foisted the great surprise upon the nation.
Now Lyndon B. Johnson is being praised as the great parliamentarian, as the advocate of peace,
as the man who stood staunchly by non-partisan policies in foreign affairs under President Eisen-
hower. President Johnson again is the kindly man, the Chief of State to be admired and respected.
That's the tragedy in political experiences: that a man is so open to abuse while in public office
and as a "lame duck" he suddenly regains admiration —as long as he adheres to the wishes of those
who would admire. But just let LBJ step on some one's toes and off will go the steam of hate !
He is like the guy on the baseball diamond who is a hero when he hits home runs and is
burn if he should commit one error. And we are not so sure about LBJ's errors: most of the Vietnam
tragedy is inherited from three Presidents.
The President—remember, he is our President for another nine months !—stood a lot of abuse.
Senator McCarthy, Stevenson-like, acts the gentleman, is scholarly, utilizes the right to criticize and
differ. but does not abuse. Richard Nixon acted the statesman the day after President Johnson's
announcement that stunned the nation. Bobby Kennedy also was a gentleman on the cruicial day when
he believed he was getting nearer to the White House. But in the days when the man with thP
curl invoked the name of a former suitor of LBJ's daughter with a reference to Hamilton's asking for A
curly-foreheaded Senator's daughter's telephone number, and then sought to drag into his hurr
(sic!) the "Birds" of the White House, it was putting politics into the gutter. (Nixon, on Mond
spoke of Kennedy's "vicious attacks" on the President).
Indeed, what has happened to the American ideas of fair play? And must a husband become a
"lame duck" before there is recognition of his ladies' wonderful and dignified behavior while he
was in office?
The saving grace in the present challenge to America is the availability for the Presidency of
Hubert H. Humphrey. He is an able, a great man who will be a credit to all of us as President.
is fortunate for America that he is available- in the present political struggle.
hope, but a serious one. If min is
At the time we go to press, Humphrey's availability is a mere
candidate, it'll provide the relief from the tensions created over the seriousness of filling our nation's
a people now afflicted by many sorrows. May
major post with a man able to handle the affairs of
we see the emergence of an era of peace under the leadership of a tried public servant.

Revolutionary Changes in Riot-Torn Areas

A problematic aftermath of the tragic events of last summer is the
uncertain status of the merchant in riot-torn areas. People who have
conducted businesses in those areas for many years have either been
uprooted or are faced with the challenge either of confronting
antagonism or of abandoning their establishments which had been
built with sweat and hard labor over many years.
There is real tragedy in this transition for many people, some of
whom had aged in the process of conducting their businesses and
many who still depend upon them for their livelihood. Yet, there are
accusing fingers leveled at them that they had capitalized on the
miseries of their clientele, while, in reality, many extended credit,
took losses, struggled to retain good will under unsettled conditions,
striving to be helpful to their poor customers.
. Some very interesting revelations become available in a study
made in behalf of the Jewish Community Council by one of its staff
members, Leonard Milstone. The research he conducted evaluates
the status of riot-afflicted areas—Twelfth Street, Dexter, Linwood—and
indicates the number of businesses before and after the July dis-
turbances. Only the Grand River area had not been explored.
It is important to note that this research task shows "an inability
of the merchants to define their role within the ghetto community;"
that the merchants are level-headed, hard-working, "make no claim
to being social theorists," but "are not sure what the black
community wants or demands from them." The sizable number
of merchants who returned to the former environments to conduct
their businesses again "are frightened by the past and insecure
about the future." On this score, however, the question must be
posed, in view of the increased sale of guns to people in Detroit
and its suburban environs, "who isn't frightened?" The indictment
that can be framed against our society is that the fear can well
be directed against whites who have incited crime waves as much
as against blacks.
Milstone's survey merits commendation for its objectivity as well
as its thoroughness. His study of the conditions in the three major
areas that are afflicted by the problems he faced provides illuminating
data and these analyses are worth culling from his lengthy report:
"If one views the total over-all picture, it is apparent that the
number of Jewish merchants in this ghetto area has been overinflated.
I do not wish to minimize the role of the Jewish businessman in the
ghetto but the obvious fact is that not every other store was Jewish
owned. It is now possible to walk for several blocks on the thorough-
fares of this survey without encountering a Jewish merchant, and this
situation may have existed prior to the riot.
"Over the years the natural attrition plus the hazards of doing
business in the ghetto have reduced the number of Jewish merchants.
Many businesses which are geared to our community could not
function in the new environmental circumstances—kosher butchers,
beauty and barber shops, bakeries, bagel factories and delicatessens
have. with a few exceptions, disappeared from these neighborhoods.
A majority of the new businesses that have emerged are not character-
istically associated with Jews—Negro beauty and barber shops,
small record shops, and "soul food" restaurants. If one counts every
store on our survey streets the total that was Jewish owned prior to
the riot was probably not overwhelming, and this number has been
dramatically reduced.
"It is a fact that most of the Jewish merchants do own the larger
and more thriving stores. The large cleaners or. variety stores are
usually Jewish owned, while their small competitors are usually Negro
owned. We also have not explored the area of store ownership where
we may find Negro owned stores being rented from a Jewish landlord.
"Many of the Chaldean merchants interviewed related how they
had purchased their stores from Jews and how this pattern had
developed in the area. We find in the grocery field that as Jewish
merchants retired or relocated they were replaced by Chaldeans. It
appears from our contacts, that up to this point the Negro businessman
has been unable to purchase the more profitable businesses that do
exist in the ghetto.
"Based upon our survey we find that the Jewish merchants now
comprise 9 1/2% of the total number of merchants within the report area.
Before the riot, Jewish merchants accounted for 15% of all the
busineSses. Both of these percentages are far lower than the per-
centages we had always assumed to obtain. These figures show the
drastic decline in the number of Jewish merchants apparently caused
directly by the riot. It appears that we must alter some of our beliefs
pertaining to the role and influence of the Jewish merchant in the
ghetto. The Jewish merchant does play a part in the ghetto economy,
but not numerically. To some extent this numerical deficiency may be
offset by the fact that Jewish merchants operate what seem to be the
more stable businesses.
"There is some aspect of 'marginality' to the status of the Jewish
ghetto merchant. The impression prevails that some, at least, are
there because they have no feasible way of getting out without sacrific-
ing a business or an investment. Ideally, we might say their : role in
the inner city should be one that relates them constructively and help-
fully to the neighborhood, and cooperatively to other merchants.
Realistically, though, this feeling of 'marginality,' together with their
small numerical representation, complicates any discussion of their
role. Our thought remains, however, that the idea of organization
among the merchants ought to be pursued.
The summarized total of Jewish-owned stores in the riot-torn area
is represented in the following summary of 39 returnees to their

2—Friday, April 5, 1968

businesses: Groceries, 7; drugstores, 6; restaurants, 4; cleaners, 3;
bakeries, 2; hardware stores, 2; printers, 2; tailors, 2; variety, 2;
bar, 1; discount store, 1; fish market, 1; furniture store, 1; meat
market, 1; shoe store, 1; miscellaneous, 3.
In view of the seriousness of the problem, it will be valuable for
our community to have the total summary of the retail stores con-
tained in the survey The facts as gathered by Milstone are presented
in this table:
Total Number
Total Number
Jewish Owned of Stores Jewish Owned
of Stores
After Riot
After Riot
Before Riot
Before Riot

Number Jewish Number Jewish
Owned Stores
Owned Stores
% Decline
After Riot
Before Riot

Percentage of Stores Owned
Percentage of Stores Owned
By Jews After Riot
By Jews Before Riot
Total Number
Total number
Jewish Owned
Jewish Owned
Percentage ,
While we have the data, we do not have a solution. Extremists
in the black community have shouted for possession ob business houses
conducted in the midst of their followers' residential areas. Jewish
merchants in Detroit, Harlem, Watts, Newark—wherever the Negroes
predominate as residents—have offered to sell their businesses. Many
cannot afford to sacrifice meager possessions. But some Negroes have
inherited the prejudice of shouting "rich as a Jew" when they see a
Jewish merchandising mart. Some have been led to believe that the
Negroes enriched the Jews. That was the experience an Israeli high
official had in Watts a few weeks ago when he was told that trees
planted in Israel by American Jews were really Negro-financed. Under
such conditions it becomes more difficult to find solution to an aggra-
vated problem. But a solution becomes easier to find when facts are
known, and the Jewish Community Council provides the necessary data.

Universalism . . . Covering All Areas . . . JUnitarianism

We know a Detroiter who belongs to a leading Orthodox congrega-
tion, to both original local Reform temples, to the oldest Detroit
Conservative congregation; who supports Chabad (when he speaks at
a public meeting he pronounces it Tchaybed), always has a yarmulke
in his pocket and relishes shrimp.
His Orthodox affiliation is a continuation of his father's member-
ship; he is a good fellow and a cooperative citizen who has befriended
all Reform rabbis, and he therefore is equally at home in the Reform
synagogues; his grandmother wore a shaytel and he therefore shares
the pieties of Chabad.
(The single Detroiter thus depicted is presented as a symbol
of a larger element. He represents a respected group that adheres
to an inconsistency that is not dishonorable but is nevertheless
This often assumes a common pattern in our communities. Yet,
how does it tally with Wilbur J. Cohen's affiliations?
Cohen, who has just been named Secretary of Health, Education
and Welfare and will be a member of President Johnson's Cabinet,
is a career government official who has helped the Social Security
Act in 1935, in the Roosevelt administration. He is an outstanding
social scientist and he is Jewish, as his name implies. His biographical
sketch in the New York Times described that aspect of his being as
"His religious background is Jewish, and he is listed in Who's
Who in World Jewry. He is also identified with Unitarian Church
And that puzzles us. One can be associated with all Jewish move-
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS ments, even when there are ideological conflicts. That applies to

life generally, but the line is
always drawn theologically.
It all reminds us of the era when
Reform and Orthodoxy clashed
(and in that clash Conservatism
was equated with Orthodoxy). It
was a bitter fight and because
Reform rabbis then went to
churches to deliver sermons in an
exchange with Christian ministers,
and there was an especially warm
friendship between Jews and Uni-
tarians, such befriending of non-
Jews was branded JUnitarianism.
There is a greater tolerance to-
day and it could well be defined
as an inheritance from a natural,
internal toleration of opposition
parties in our midst. The religious
even tolerate the secularis t.
Doesn't he always say: "Yisrael,
of al pi she-hata Yisrael hu" — a
Jew even if he has sinned remains
a Jew!
On this score, Dr. Raphael Patai,
in his newest book, "The Hebrew
Goddess" (published by Ktav)
makes the point that while there
were sharp divisions between
Hasidim and Mitnagdim—their op-
ponents—"at no point during the
great struggle did any Hasidic or
Matnagdic leader go so far as to
cast a doubt upon the Judaism
of the opposing group.
The entire subject is an interest-
ing one for parlor discussions and
for some punning. We know Jews
who belong to all Zionist parties.
They are such good joiners and
such good sports ! Yet these very
people would not openly acclaim
themselves as members of both
the Democratic and Republican
parties. But among the wealthy,
both sides are played—it is not
done openly, but for social-eco-
nomic safety's sake both major
parties can point to wealth as aid-
ing the two—and both know the
gifts are given with tongue in
But JUnitarianism? Th
another story.


Poland takes Step
Back to Middle Ages
The Polish reversion' :to the

Middle Ages has not abated. All
the vile aspects of antiSemitism
again are in. evidence. Even the
stupid forgeries called "Protocols
of the Elders of Zion" are being
utilized in spreading hatred of
Israel and Jewry.
Polish officials who were never
known as Jews suddenly have had
their parentage — their grand-
parents in some instances — un-
earthed, in Nazi fashion, to justify
their being dismissed.
And as in so many other in.
stances, the marriage of Gomulka
to a Jewess is claimed as evidence
that he is not an anti-Semite, If
you need the thief, says a Yiddish
proverb, you take him off the gal-
and it has been all -too - easy
to . benefit from Jews' self-hatred!

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