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January 15, 1971 - Image 28

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1971-01-15

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

Israelis hurrying home for the
Sabbath, the squeaky Carmelit
cable ear in Haifa.
Security measures kept his ma-
chine out of the Knesset, but on
the trip home, El Al officials per-
mitted Freeling to use It, once he
had demonstrated that the recorder
was not concealing a dangerous
device.
A child psychologist with the
Penrickton Center for the Visually
Handicaped, Freeling said he went
to Israel "as a very interested,
curious private citizen. A lot of
American Jews are very senti-
mental about Israel; I don't knock
sentiment, but it could possibly
distort one's concept of reality. So,
I went with an air of skepticism.
"I came away believing Israel
is vital and vibrantly alive. The
people seem to know where they're
going and are proud of it. There's
a feeling of love of country—not
a 'greasy' kind of patriotism, not
at all chauvinistic. Most Israelii
I talked to acknowledged there
are problems and seemed to want
to make themselves better people."
Because visual experiences are
lacking, Freeling relies on his
heightened awareness through
other senses. At the Western
(Wailing) Wall:
"I approached it as a very de-
tached and level-headed psycholo-
gist. But as I touched the wall, I
was overwhelmed by an indescrib-
able feeling, linking me with the
fantastic Jewish heritage of wis-
dom and insight. It wasn't a sen-
timental thing, but a feeling of
a sense of history. Certainly, it
was the highlight of my trip."
His own work with children
made Freeling particularly sensi-
tive to how Israel meets their
needs. "Children are so very
precious In Israel," he observed.
"They are strongly encouraged
in all kinds of activities and get
a great deal of affection."
At the Institute for the Blind in
Jerusalem, some 100 children of
age 5-16 are "cherished as a price-
less value. It's very touching to
watch."
Freeling, who attended the School
for the Blind in New York before
going on to the universities of
Rochester and Michigan for bache-
lors and masters degrees, said
Israel's services for the blind are
as good as those in the United
States. •'But it's harder to find the
blind in Israel. There's a greater
stigma attached to blindness:"
Freeing learned that Arabs and
North African immigrants actually
hide their blind children, and the
ministry of social welfare must
try to find them.
Birth defects have replaced
trachoma as the number one cause
of blindness in Israel, whose philos-
ophy on the education of sightless
children is to integrate them into
the general community. Severely
handicaped blind youngsters are
institutionalized, but the Institute
for the Blind may begin to take in
more multiply handicaped students.
Noting that there are a number
of blind peddlers in Israel's larger
cities, Freeing said it is "difficult
to teach the Israeli public that the
blind can do more than beg. But
while the attitude is less enlight-
ened than in the United Stateg,
facilities are up to date."
His meager knowledge of con-
versational Hebrew was a draw-
back in Israel,. Freeing admits,
but the students of Beth Am's
religious school will have no such
problem when they visit. At the
school, Hebrew is taught by the
Habet U'Shma audio-visual tech-
nique. There is a strong empha-
sis on Israel in the curriculum,
he added.
Freeling cautions, however, that
"Books don't do Israel justice. It's
an intensely personal, emotional
kind of experience. You have to
feel the country to appreciate it."

By CHARLOTTE DUBIN
Neal Freeling has seen Israel as
few see it.
Back from a brief trip, the 33-
year-old bachelor president of
Temple Beth Am describes a court-,
try pulsating with excitement, with
the sounds of progress and the joy
of being.
He felt the country with every
sense but sight. For Freeland is
blind.
Wherever he toured, accompa-
nied by his father and an Israeli
guide, Free ling recorded the mood
of Israel—he calls it slices of life
—on tape.
He took his recorder to a
Hanuka celebration and a wed-
ding at Kibutz Daverat, where
he stayed with relatives. He
taped radio commercials. He re-
corded the sounds of churches
and shops, a bos crowded with

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a University of Michigan graduate,
is attending law school there.
An August wedding is planned.

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