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February 27, 1970 - Image 33

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1970-02-27

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

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
Friday, February 27, 1970-35

Czech Jewry's Precarious Status

By JIM COLLINS

(Copyright 1970, JTA, Inc.)

Announcements

Feb. 23—To Mr.- and Mrs. Alan
J. Greenwald (Carol Schultz),
20156 Woodburn, Southfield, a
daughter, Pauline Joyce.
• • •
Feb. 17—To former Detroiter Dr.
Philip Rosenbloom and Mrs. Rosen-
bloom of Nashville, a son, Samuel
Trent.
• • •
Feb. 12—To Mr. and Mrs. Law-
rence Simmer (Sharron Thomas),
6916 Alderley Way, Birmingham,
a son, Scott Allan.
• • •
Feb. 11 — To Mr. and Mrs.
Richard Fanelli (Michelle Klay-
man of Detroit) of West New
York, N.J., a son, Paul.
• • •
Feb. 11—To Mr .and Mrs. Leon-
ard Anstandig (Donna Goldstein),
29570 Everett, Southfield, a son,
Brian Craig.
• • •
Feb. 5—To Dr. and Mrs. Brian
Kerman (Charlene Bernstein of
Windsor), 29185 Fairfax, Southfield,
a son, Sean Daniel.
• • •
Feb. 5—To Mr. and Mrs. Eugene
Kowalsky (Cherna Bodzin), 24120
Westhampton, Oak Park, a daugh-
ter, Julie Michelle.
• •

Feb. 4—To Mr. and Mrs. Allen
Krass, 23400 Lake Ravines, South-
field, a daughter, Michelle Ruth.
• • •
Jan 29—To Dr. and Mrs. Rich-
ard S. Robinson (Nancy Milan),
19884 Cranbrook, a son, Mark
Daniel.
• •

Jan. 21—To Dr. and Mrs. Daniel
S. Marks (Judith Weisman), 13661
Elgin, Oak Park, a son, Edward
Gordon.


• •

Mr. and Mrs. Barry E.
Goren (Sandra Lober), 27320 Mar-
shall, Southfield, an adopted son,

To

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LONDON—The occasional claim
that Jewish communities in Czech-
oslovakia have not been attacked
since they never involved them-
selves in politics can be sustained
only by those who follow the Czech
and Slovak press and radio in the
most cursory fashion. Non-involve-
ment of the Jewish community in
politics in the given conditions is
self-evident, but it has offered little
protection against some vicious sal-
lies. Quite recently, the Prague
Jewish community was singled out
for such a broadside from Prague
radio when an obscure commenta-
tor, Lumir Hanak, charged that
prior to August 1968, the occupa-
tion of Czechoslovakia by the War-
saw Pact troops, regular youth
lectures had taken place on the
premises of the Jewish religious
community in Prague. They had
been devoted to "Jewish national
and not to religious topics proving
Zionist efforts to separate Jewish
youth politically from the rest of
Czechoslovak youth.
The impulse for these efforts,
according to Hanak, came in the
wake of the "Israeli aggression
against the Arab nations" which
led to a "revival of national alle-
giance among part of the Jewish
youth in Prague who had ceased to
be mindful of its Jewish past. "All
this," Hanak said, "had already
started before the counter-revolu-
tion commenced to grow its horns
and was spoonfed by foreign Zion-
ist centers which considered that
under Dubcek's leadership, the
country offered a suitable play-
ground for various forms of Zion-
ism." Thus, Zionism "played its
role conjointly with Czech and
Slovak nationalism, anti-Sovietism
and the 'K231 Club' of former poli-
tical persecutees," It also mani-
fested itself in "recruiting leading
scientists and other public figures
for Israel."

The commentator conceded
that he was laying himself open
to charges of anti-Semitism and
racialism.

There were of course also non-
Jews involved in the overall trend
of developments. "Side by side
with Kriegel, Sik, Goldstuecker,
Mlynar and Liehm" (all of Jewish
origin) "there also were Smir-
kovsky, Vodslon, Pavlicek, Pacov-
sky, Pachman and others" (gen-
tiles who, like the Jews and others
who denied their Jewish origin,
have since been removed from pub-
lic life or left Czechoslovakia).
"However, it is necessary to reflect
on the fact that one-third of our
citizens of Jewish descent went to
the West after August 1968."
The Prague Jewish community is
known to have protested at govern-
ment level against the insinuations
of the broadcast and stressed that
the series of lectures referred to
was purely cultural. Whether, in

the light of the changes in Prague
at the end of January, there will
be a satisfactory reply to these
protests remains to be seen.
Jewish public opinion in the
West is being occasionally molli-
fied by reports—some bona fide,
others inspired—on the continu-
ous effort of the Czechoslovak
state to finance Jewish institu-
tions, maintain and repair syna-
gogues and renovate old ceme-
teries. Such reports should be
read with caution and in conjunc-
tion with the overall picture
pointing to a spreading deteriora-
tion of cul t u r al monuments
throughout the country. One re-
cent report had it that "millions"
of Czech crowns have been spent
on the restoration of the Jewish
Town Hall, the Alt-Neu Syna-
gogue and the Pinkas Synagogue
in Prague. This is an effort
which, in fact, has been going
on over the last 25 years chiefly
with an eye on the tourist from
hard-currency countries. At the
official exchange rate, the ex-
penditure reduces itself to 50,000
pounds sterling ($120,000) for
every "milion" spent and such
investment has meanwhile no







.....

doubt been recouped in terms of (Southern Bohemia) fell victim to
a regional scheme providing for
dollars.
the building of a dam in the area
Against this investment, now pre- of the castle of Cesky Krumlov
sented as a gesture of benevolent (Boehmisch Kromau), ranking sec-
understanding of Jewish cultural
in size and architectural im-
requirements, stands the substan- ond
portance after the Hradschin Castle
tial Jewish communal property of Prague. According to press re-
throughout the country seques-
ports, the dam project was due
trated almost entirely after the
to start "some time after the
Communist coup in 1948: Aban-
year 2,000;" according to other
doned synagogues, Jewish meeting
halls and schools, hospitals, old- reports, it has now been scrapped
age homes and other welfare in- altogether. Another synagogue dis-
stitutions with their buildings and mantled recently owing to "danger
sites. They form part of that 'heir- of collapse" is that of Pribam in
less property' which could not be Bohemia. Once a sizeable commun-
claimed under the Federal Ger- ity, six Jews were left in the lo-
man Compensation Laws and cality at the turn of the year.
and which should form part of any
restitution which may be negoti-
ated between Czechoslovakia and
West Germany if and when talks
on a bilateral agreement between
the two countries become topical.
At the annual election meeting
If 'millions" have been spent by of the Jewish Educators Council
the Prague treasury on mainten- of Metropolitan Detroit, Sidney
ance and restoration of the Jewish Selig, director of Beth Shalom
cultural heritage of Czechoslovakia, Schools, was elected chairman.
Other officers are vice chairman,
there still remains a sizeable
amount which, in other circum- Cantor Arthur Asher (director,
Temple
Israel School); treasurer,
stances, would have gone to the
credit of the surviving Jewish James Levbarg (director, Temple
Beth
El
School); corresponding
communities and their institutions
both inside and outside of Czech- secretary, Rabbi Aaron Brander
(director, Cong. Bnai David); and
oslovakia.
recording secretary, Rabbi Man-
Jewish communal property off fred Pick (director, Akiva Day
the beaten tourist track is, with
few exceptions, on the point of School).
The executive committee in-
vanishing. The exceptions can be
found where local initiative or cludes Albert Elazar, Rabbi Simon
Murciano,
Rabbi Martin Tatel-
Western support have played a
part. Czech students last year baum and Dr. Benjamin Yapko.
The Jewish Educators Council
helped to restore the ancient Jew-
ish cemetery at Humpolec in Mor- of Metropolitan Detroit is com-
avia and an adjoining building. At posed of full-time professional edu-
Prostejov (Prossnitz) a Jewish cators of the community, Reform,
school dating to 1816 which had Conservative, Orthodox and day
among its renowned pupils Prof. school movements in Metropolitan
Edmund Husserl, the philosopher, Detroit.
and Dr. Moritz Steinschneider, the
—Buffon.
orientalist, was scheduled for res-
Genius is patience.
toration, together with the former
ghetto of Prostejov, the largest in
Moravia, once described as the
"Moravian Jerusalem." Restora-
tion work has been completed at
the ancient ghetto, synagogue and
cemetery of Holesov (Holleschau)
in Moravia, and Czech newspapers
have. also reported the restoration
of the ancient cemetery of Kounice
(Kaunitz) in Moravia.

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On the other side of the bal-
ance sheet, one of the oustand-
ing examples of Jewish cultural
sites in danger is that of the an-
cient cemetery of Bratislava
(Pressburg)' capital of Slova-
kia. It is to fall victim to a town-
planning scheme unless local
Jews are able to buy the site
with foreign currency.
As recently as November 1969,
Czech newspapers published photo-
graphs of the neglected cemetery
at Most (Bruex) in Northern Bo-
hemia and the overgrown ceme-
tery of Boskivice (Boskowitz) in
Moravia, once a center of Jewish
culture and learning. Restoration
of some cemeteries destroyed by
the Nazis—such as that of Cheb
(Eger) in Bohemia was limited to
the erection of a memorial.
Synagogues in out-of-the-way
places have suffered even where
they are of substantial historical
and architectural value. The 16th
Century synagogue of Rozmberk

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