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January 22, 1971 - Image 16

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1971-01-22

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

S1,1111 •••,”:"••• •••••••".• ■

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••••••

TIM DETROIT JEWISI NEWS

YountRabbi Nips Delinquency Problem

16-1Frilley, Jewelry 22, 1171

Immigrant Town Gets New Lease on Life

Army with pride and love of coup-I always head for home—to Migdal
try. On furlough, he said, they HaEmek.

By CHARLOTTE DUBIN
For a nation that looks to the
Torah for its spiritual and moral
foundations, the town of Migdal
HaEmek was an embarrassing
problem.
Sodom and Gomorra it wasn't,
but at the rate drugs and promis-
cuity were proliferating in the
Nazareth suburb, the biblical sin
cities were getting a contemporary
reminder.
What made the situation doubly
tragic was the fact that the town
of 12,000 was populated largely by
those least able to fight the prob-
lem—poor immigrants from North
Africa, who had been uprooted
from one century and plopped into
another.
While the parent generation was
trying to cope with a new lan-
guage, with a new society and a
new economy, the children of their
large families were quickly acquir-
ing new values. These differed
from the traditions their elders had
practiced for centuries, and not all
the new ideas were good ones.
In neighboring Nazareth, hash-
ish is easy to get among the
Arab population. With little to
occupy their free time, the immi-
grant children found their excite-
ment in the streets. Promiscuity
and gambling grew, and the
demoralizing ef feet was felt
thronghcut Migdal HaEmek and
nearby Upper Nazareth, which is
populated by another MAO Jews.
Goveinment authorities were em-
barrassed, and local officials—in-
elm:ling the mayor and the police
chief — were ashamed, but there
appeared to be no answer.
Two-and-a-half years ago, the
answer arrived, in the slight,
serene form of 22-year-old Rabbi
Yitzhak David Grossman.
Wearing payot (earlocks) and
the somber uniform of a yeshiva
bohur, Rabbi Grossman hardly
looks the part of
a fighter for law
and order.,
the kind of law
and order he and
his friends haVe
brought to Mig-
dal HaEmek is
based on ancient
law—an Torah—
and he has earnrd
for his town a
n e w reputation Rabbi Grossman
and a new name, Migdal Or—
Tower of Light.
Here on a visit to gain support
for his project, the third-generation
sabra (his father is rosh yeshiva
of the Stolin-Karlin yeshiva in
Jerusalem) explained how it came
about.
Some three years ago, he and
several other young yesniva schol-
ars volunteered to work among im-
migrants in some of the new settle-
ments. Their work was on behalf
of P'eylim, a group which has the
stated purpose of winning Jewish
children back from missionarief.
It claims, for example, that many
Jews live among the 1,000 children
in a Nazareth convent. To drama-
tize that claim, P'eylim estimates
that 30,000 Jewish women in Israel
have married Arabs.
Appalled at what they felt was
a moral crisis in the Nazareth
area, Rabbi Grossman, his wife
and five other young couples
decided to do more than visit
Migdal HaEmek, They moved in.
The first step was to establish
a kolel—a Talmud study group—
in which the young men spent the
morning hours learning.
The afternoons were devoted to
the children of Migdal HaEmek.
Each of the young scholars, and
each of their wives, was assigned
the task of organizing a different
age group. They offered singing
and dancing, arts and crafts, holi-
day celebrations, excursions. Using
the facilities of a public school. ,
the children were given moral les-
sons, too, in a Talmud ,Torah. t
"Through religion," said Rabbi
Grossman, "we instill a purpose in
life where there was none.' TheY'
learn they must be good Jews and
loyal to the state of Israel."
Responsibility was instilled early I

1

in the children's experience. As the
members of each group formed
strong bonds with one another,
they were given new responsibili-
ties, caring for younger children.
Thus, by the time Rabbi Gross-
man's colleagues had grown to
nine couples, there already was
strong leadership down through
the ranks.
Other activities developed. The
immigrant parents in Migdal
HaEmek have been similarly orga-
nized, finding, at last, a hospitable
environment in their new aud
strange land:
A group of 350 high school seniors
of North African origin, sent to Is-
rael by their parents through Youth
Aliya, is being weaned away from
an anti-Israel ideology learned in
France:
Some 70 girls "in trouble" have
been sent away to boarding schools
to start a new life—their room and
board paid for by Rabbi Gross-
man's group, P'eylim. (The Israel
government subsidizes the kolel
only: the rabbi's other activities en
behalf of the immigrants are cov-
ered through private sources.)
Now the chief rabbi of Migdal
HaEmek by appointment of the
Israeli rabbinate, Grossman
along with his fellow students—
is said to have been credited by
the local police chief for "doing

in 21/2 years what we haven't
been able to do in 15."
Some 2,000 children age 10-20
have been assisted through Rabbi
Grossman's programs, but all of
Migdal HaEmek has benefited. A
once-skeptical mayor, Zvi El-
Dorati, has become one of the
rabbi's strongest backers. In all of
Israel, it is reported, his is the
only city in which no pornography
is sold in the stores, by agreement
of the store owners themselves.
Despite the obvious successes of
his program, Rabbi Grossman said
thousands of children and their
parents have not been reached
because proper facilities are lack-
ing. The ideal building has been
found, but his group hasn't the
funds with which to buy it. On his
trip to the United States, he is
appealing for support through
P'eylim. (The local representative
is Mrs. Joseph Moseson, 24031
Beverly, Oak Park, 545-1147).
In 21/2 years, Rabbi Grossman
said, he has seen former delin-
quents graduate into the Israel

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