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July 18, 1969 - Image 40

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1969-07-18

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Middle Ages to Renaissance Covered in New Dubnov Volume

cause it revives interest in the
With all the new improvisations,
role of Jewry in Spain, in
changes, additions, new research
France, under the Roman Popes,
in Jewish historical writings, the
in Poland and also in the early
work of Heinrich Graetz and
years of the Jewish settlers in
Simon Dubnov remain among the
great classics in Jewish history
Experiences in France. expul-
of the Jews from France and
For the first time, the works of
Dubnov, who died a martyr's
death at the hands of the Nazis,
now are offered in an excellent
translation from the Russian. pre-
pared by Moshe Spiegel.
Two volumes in this series have
already been published and
Thomas Yoseloff has just issued
the third volume in the complete
new undertaking.
Dealing with the eras from the
later Middle Ages to the Renais-
sance, the new volume is an en-
richment of historical literature
enabling English readers to be-
come thoroughly acquainted with
the history of the Jews.


The new translation is espe-
cially valuable at this time be-

ld en era in S pa i n
! England, the goen
and the subsequent tragedies under
the Inquisition are among the vital
periods under discussion.
In this magnus opus, Dubnov's
historical records deal not only
with the physical status of Jews,
the persecutions, expulsions, burn-
ing of the Talmud, but also with
the spiritual life of Jews in the
centuries under review, the -liter-
ary creations, the rabbinate and
internal conflicts.
We have here an evaluation of
the Sephardic-Ashkenazi differ-


ences, the mysticism, the mes-
sianic hopes, the emergence of the
Kabala and its influence upon life
in the 16th and subsequent cen-

guages and dialects that were ht
use, especially the Judeo-Ger-
man, the Jude a-Italian and

basic information, definitive ex-
planation, encouragement to re-
search in Jewish history.
There is thorough coverage of
the life of Jews in Germany and

in Poland and the record of the

autonomic Polish center in the
Golden Age, in the early years of
the 15th century, of the self-govern-
ment during the functioning Kahal
and the Vaad Arba Arazot — the

Diets and the Council of the Four
Lands—serve as reminders of bet-
ter days in contrast with experi-
ences in the 20th century.
In the exceedingly informative
data about the cultural attain-
ments, under stress and in eras
where there was a measure of
freedom for Jewish observance
and scholarship, the reader gets

For a fuller understanding of the
Marranos, of the struggle against the story of a history that was re-
the Inquisition; the period of the plete not only in suffering but also
tragedy of Baruch Spinoza and in creative attainments.
For a full appreciation of this
Uriel de Costa and those who be-
came involved in the controver-
tremendous work, it is necessary
to take into account the supple-
sies, Dubnov's work serves the
ments that deal with the Ian-
significant aim of providing

Judea-Spanish, and, of course,
the Yiddish. The surveys of
sources and literatures are valu-
able for the record.
Catholic reactions to Jews, docu-
mentaries, mysticism and the atti-
tudes of the rabbis—scores of sub-
jects related to the internal and
external developments involving
Jews meet with reviews that em-
phasize the thoroughness of the
great historian's research.
By extending the current work
into a study of the first American
Jewish settlers, the new volume
serves as an introduction to the
later volumes which will continue
with historical data closer to our
own time.
The excellence of the transla-
tion, the completeness as the Dub-
nov treatment indicates, serve to
make the translation of history
from the Russian into English a
task of great magnitude.


Tel Aviv Sephardic Chief Rabbi purely
Raises Hairy- Issue Over Wigs . (Continued from Page 2)

TEL AVIV—The new Sephardic
chief rabbi of Tel Aviv, Owadia
Josef, is only 50 years. One of the
most distinguished Talmud experts
in Israel, he- was a boy of 5 when
be came to Palestine. When he was
20, he was made a rabbi and four
years later he was a member of
the chief Sephardic rabbinate in
Jerusalem. In the year 1947, he
went to Cairo, lead Egyptian
Jewry with Chief Rabbi Nahum
After the War of Independence,
Rabbi Owadia returned to Israel
and later was elected a member
of the great Rabbinical Court in

Not long ago, when Rabbi Owa-
dia took over his new high office
in Tel Aviv, the new Sephardic
chief rabbi declared that if a
religious woman wears a wig,
her husband could divorce her.
The religious women revolted
and declared they would not put
up with such an order.

Chief Rabbi Owadia announced
religious women should not enter a
synagogue or appear in public with
a wig, as this is against the cus-
toms of Jewish daughters and
against modesty. He appealed to
the religious newspapers not to
publish any advertisements about
wigs. Whereas the religious women
were very sorry about this appeal,
nonreligious circles in Israel were
watching this argument with satis-
faction. This is the best propa-
ganda against religion, these cir
cies argue.
Rabbi Owadia tried to deny that
he ever prohibited religious wom-
en from wearing wigs and that
such a custom is a reason for
divorce. He admitted that he had
written a booklet and dedicated
one of the chapters to the matter
of wigs, on the demand of the
Sephardic community in Israel. as
Sephardic women had stopped
wearing head-clothes and started
to wear modern wigs.
The newspaper Ha'aretz con
ducted a referendum among reli-
gious women about the question of
wearing wigs, and the majority of
them voiced their opinion against
the demand of Rabbi Owadia. Only
the wife of the chief rabbi of Tel
Aviv, Zipia Goren, has accepted
the stand of the Sephardic chief
rabbi. But with this, the matter
was not closed.
The management of the school of
wigmaking in Kfar Habad (the
religious village, which is being
supported by the Lubavitch Rebbe
in New York). opposed Owadia's
opinion. The director of the school,
Rabbi Shmuel Hefer, maintains
that in the Shulhan Aruk there is
no prohibition of wearing wigs.
There are some thoughts about it,

that hundreds of daughters found
work in this religious school in
which wig-making is taught.

In religious circles, people are

afraid that the extreme position
of the Sephardic Rabbi Owadia
in this question may bring about
certain changes in the Tel Aviv
rabbinate and create difficulties
in marriages, divorces and other
religious matters.
People are anxious that the new

believe that the concert goers
side. Later that night, a kerosene- !would be protected.
9. These preparations were large-
filled pan was placed against the
house and set in flames. The clap- ly a sham insofar as the Westches-
boards did catch fire, the burned ter County police were concerned
area extending from the lower and left the concert goers unde-
board to the eaves, over an area fended.
10. The wounding of William
about 10 feet high and three feet in
Secor, rioting veteran, occurred

Although anti-Semitism and Ne-
gro-phobia were less marked at the
second riot than the first, tran-
scripts made by radio reporters at
the second riot record a new and
fearshome epith. "White Niggers,"
shouted at Jews seen associating
with colored people. Moreover,
busses and houses were plastered
with stickers reading " . .. COM-
According to unimpeachable testi-
mony, the stickers are identical in
color, type-face and border design
to similar stickers mailed to this
country by Einar Aberg, the Swe-
dish anti-Semite
These stickers

normally come from Sweden in
small lots and are sent out to a
haphazard mailing list. They are
received along with other anti-
Semitic literature.

Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Tel Aviv.
Rabbi Shlomo Goren, should take
over his office and find together
with Rabbi Owadia new ways to
make religious life easier instead
of more difficult.
But the Sephardic Jews in Israel
are proud of their Chief Rabbi
Owadia as, he is a great expert in
talmudic affairs, and they do not
want anything to interfere with his
• • •
For several weeks, there has
been a dispute between the minis-
ter for religious affairs, Dr. Zerach
Warhaftig, and some leaders of
the Labor Party about the question
of holding elections for the offi-
ces of the two chief rabbis of Is-
The two chief rabbis, Isser Ye-
huda Unterman and Yizhak Nis-
Based upon the evidence the in-
. sim, and the eight members of the vestigators reached the following
chief rabbinate of Israel were conclusions:
1 elected five years ago. Chief Rabbi
1. There is no evidence whatever
Unterman has passed the age of 80 of Communist provocation on either
and would hardly be a candidate occasion.
again. Chief Rabbi Nissim served
2. The unprovoked rioting was
several office terms.
All this causes difficulties in fostered largely by anti-Semitism,
the National Religious Party, growing out of local resentment
and the Labor Party is ready to against the increasing influx of
postpone the elections until Jewish summer residents from
March 1970 in order to maintain New York. It was heightened by
"peace" with its religious part- the area's tradition of political vio-
ner. Dr. Warhaftig proposes to lence as evidenced by the physical
postpone the 1 ti for t wo comabt against the KKK which is
years, but the cabinet does not now an important part of the local
consent to such a long period.

while he was assisting in the com-
mission of a crime.
11. The location of the veterans'
parades was deliberately provoca-
tive. The county authorities did not
insist that the 'parades be held

12. The evidence indicates that

at least some of the state troopers
honestly tried to preserve law and
order while county police frater-
nized with the rioters.
13. There is strong indication that

the violence was planned and was
carried out according to plan.
14. Terrorism spread over the
whole area and included threats

against private individuals, against
their sa fety, lives, property and

By Philip

15. National condemnation has
been the chief factor causing Peek-
skill to question this action. The
local clergy have joined in this de-
16. The area is now hopelessly
divided and there is evidence that
the legal authorities plan to restrict
freedom of speech and freedom of
assembly in violation of the Consti-
On the basis of the findings, the
six sponsoring organizations have
urged that where a meeting is like-
ly to arouse a mass demonstration
protest and disturbances of the
peace, the right to hold the meeting
should not be curtailed, but the
opposing forces should be prohibit-
ed from demonstrating at the same
time and place, adequate police
protection should be given, and
those who commit acts of violence
or disturbance should be promptly
arrested. Adoption of such a policy
by municipal authorities will pre-
serve the public peace without vio-
lating the constitutional guarantee
of freedom of speech and the
American tradition of freedom of

- discussion.

This report is quoted at some length because of its significance as

a lesson for our time, because it is a chapter in American history that

teaches us a great deal. It's a sad chapter, but it has its admonitions.
In the interest of retaining the best relations between Jews and

Negroes, let it be stated that Paul Robeson, on the day after the Peek--
skill outrage, told a press conference:

"We Negroes are deeply indebted to the Jewish people, hun-
dreds of whom stood at our side yesterday, to protect me and all
of us."

The lesson to be learned is that when bigotry sets in it threatens;
that Jews and Negroes st000d together for justice and they stand to-
gether for common decency today; that any attempt to divide our
population is criminal in itself.
Incidents like the one in Peekskill 20 years ago should not be for-
gotten. There is a duty to perpetuate good will and cooperation and
constantly to remind both our peoples of the friendship that is not to be
; broken, of racism not to be tolerated in the ranks of either of us.
Let history speak—through the facts we have just related!
* * *

A Paul Robeson Footnote

Paul Robeson was a Communist—admittedly. He paid the price for
3. The local press bears the main
it, when he was denied a passport to go to Russia. He was not per-
responsibility for inflaming, possi- mitted to go to the USSR to receive the Stalin Prize for his artistry,
bly through sheer irresponsibility. and presumably for his friendship to the Kremlin. But the U. S.
Peekskill residents to a mood of
Supreme Court overruled the State Department in 1958 and he went
to the Soviet Union. On his appearances there he sang Yiddish songs.
4. Robeson's concerts were not an even though he was warned there was no one to understand the
intrusion into Peekskill but were melodies.
private gatherings held five miles
At an appearance in Moscow in 1958, in spite of the admonition
outside of Peekskill which were dis- not to sing it, he gave what developed into one of his famous rendi-
ruted deliberately by invading tions—the "Kaddish" of Levi Itzhak of Berditchev in which the rabbi
gangs from nearby localities.
who became famous for this selection challenged the Almighty to
iple are united in the state of Israel
5. Terrorism was general against a Din Tora for permitting the persecution of Jews.
and there is no reason for such an
all who advocated freedom of
Robeson turned to his Moscow audience and told them he was
; ethnic division in each town.
The commission also is consider- speech, fdeedom of assembly and about to sing a 150-year-old song by a Russian rabbi who protested
ing proposals for changing the preservation of constitutional rights. against Czarist tyranny. An audience that was moved to tears rose
form of the election of chief rab-
6. The evidence proves beyond to cheer Robeson when he sang:
bis. The last elections in Tel Aviv question that the veterans intended
"I, Levi Yitzhak, son of Sarah of Berditchev, say:
caused a storm of anger, as elec- to prevent the concerts from being
From this place I shall not move;
tors were accused to have voted held.
From this spot I shall not budge,
under pressure. The matter was
Until there should be an end to all this . . .
7. Effective police protection at
brought before the high court in
He was famed for many other Yiddish and Hebrew selections.
Jerusalem. Now a new election the first concert was deliberately
Paul Robeson may not have abandoned Communism, as many of his
law is being considered which withheld.
8. Preparations to police the sec- friends (Howard Fast, for example) did. But he was not a bigot.
but not everyone can issue a rul- should enhance the prestige or
ing in this delicate question, rabbis among the nonreligious sec- ond concert appeared adequate,
Rabbi Hefer states. He pointed out , tions of the population as well. and therefore there was reason to 40—Friday, July 18, 1969



The minister of justice, Yaakov
Shimshon Shapira, and Dr. War-
haftig have put forward a "revo-
lutionary" proposal: to dispense
with electing an Ashkenazi rabbi
and a Sephardic rabbi in each town.
A special committee under the
chairmanship of the religious vice
minister for education, Dr. Kal-
man Cahane, was formed to study
this proposal. It was argued peo-

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