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April 23, 1971 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1971-04-23

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Purely Commentary

By Philip Slorriovitz

The Rosenberg Case and the Jews


(Copyright 1971, JTA, Inc.)

In a recent column, Jim Bishop revived interest in the case of
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and he commented that "the trial, un-
happily, became a 'Jewish Trial.' " He explained: "The judge was
Jewish; the defendants were Jewish; the prosecutor, Irving Saypol,
was Jewish; the defense attorneys, Emmanuel Bloch and son, were

He paid honor to Federal Judge Irving Kaufman as having been
'known as a judge's judge because he knows more law than most
of the men on the United States Supreme Court."

What puzzled us about the Bishop article was the story about
the rabbi—who is not named—as having listened to admonitions about
Nazi guilt and as having whispered: "Let them die . . ."

Perhaps, at the time, it was possible for Americans who were out-
raged by what had occurred, by the fact that the Rosenbergs were
branded as traitors—a • guilt worse than spying—that may have
jusified the "let them die" consent. Yet it remains puzzling that a
religious leader should have condoned capital punishment.

Let's turn back the pages of history for judgment in the case.
In an editorial, June 30, 1958—five years after the Rosenbergs were
executed—the New Republic wrote:

"The Rosenberg case was reviewed by two distinguished
panels of the federal Court: of Appeals in New York, both on
the merits and with respect to certain procedural irregularities.
The Supreme Court of the United States declined either to review
it or to hear argument on whether or not it should review it. Finally,
during the week for which the execution had been scheduled by
Judge Irving R. Kaufman of the United States District Court in
New York, new counsel arguing in chambers before Mr. Justice
Douglas uncovered a point that no one had thought of before.
It seemed possible—and it remains possible, as the point has
never been considered with due deliberation—that a sentence of
death could properly have been imposed in the circumstances
of the Rosenberg case only upon recommendation of the jury,
rather than by the judge acting alone, as he in fact did. So that
there might be time to determine the validity of this point, Mr.
Justice Douglas, exercising a traditional power conferred on all
judges by law, issued a stay of execution. At the implacable in-
sistence of the government—Herbert Brownell, Jr., was then
attorney general—the full court, which had adjourned for the
summer, hastily reconvened in Washington and within 48 hours
vacated Justice Douglas' stay. On the night that this was done,
the Rosenbergs were executed on schedule.

"There is no doubt that American law condemned, and little
doubt that they committed, the acts they were charged with.
But they were charged with espionage in peace time, and the
death sentence for such an act was until 1953 unprecedented. The
impatience with which, at the last, the government rushed to carry
it out was and remains abhorrent."

History will judge the case better than we can now. Was it a
"Jewish case?" It had a Jewish cast: that did not make it more a
Jewish than an American case.

Rabbi Kahane, the JDL and Worldwide Vandalism
Remember the old saying accredited to politicians, "I don't care
what you say about me, as long as you talk about me"? If Rabbi Meir
Kahane were merely a publicity seeker this could be ascribed to him.
Whenever there' is a bombing_of a Russian consulate, or an abuse of
Soviet officials, or wherever a bomb is thrown and someone says
"Never Again," learning well from Kahane's Jewish Defense League,
it is promptly blamed upon JDL, and Kahane at once becomes the

Kahane has been fined $500, with the alternative of serving 90
days in jail, by a New York judge, for disorderly conduct. He is
appealing the case and he has not stopped his anti-Russian campaign.
He travels widely now, has become an attraction on the lecture plat-
form and those who dislike him help build up his ego.

For example: a bomb damaged the Soviet mission in Amsterdam,
Holland—thousands of miles away from the Brooklyn JDL head-
quarters!—and the JDL was condemned as- having influenced the act.
Another example: the USSR embassy in Washington complained of
harassment and blamed the JDL.

It was proper for New York officials to condemn JDL warnings
that they will "smash heads" of those molesting Jews in the Jewish
section of Boro Park, but why dignify the JDL every time there is
either terrorism or vandalism?

All Kahane needs to do is sneeze and a storm begins to brew in
the foolishly deluded periodicals. A bomb exploded in the West Orange
(N. J.) Jewish Center and the JDL immediately was alluded to, just
because Kahane had, a few days earlier, attacked the Ku Klux Klan.
It's like a comic opera!
Kahane could well develop into an habitual martyr: even
when he protested the Iraqi medievalism he was arrested last
Tuesday. In this instance, too, he might say that no one else
acted, but the JDL did!
The JDL's spokesmen were given a hearing last week by officials
of the U..S. Department of Commerce. They heard complaints against
a $1,600,000,000 industrial deal with the USSR by the National Machine
Tool Builders' Association and the charge was that the Commerce
Department encourages it. Apparently JDL will utilize every occasion
to prevent concessions to the USSR and not all their acts are militant
or violent.
Yet every militant act is ascribed to JDL, dignifying it with
martyrdom. JDL undoubtedly enjoys it and Kahane gains status, but,
is it wise to give credence to every occurrence as if the small group
in JDL—even if its claims of 15,000 members is correct — were the
villains? There should be a drawing of the line somewhere.

2—Friday, April -21,19-7-1

Economic Crisis Hits Argentine Jews;
Thousands Are Being Thrown Out of Work


BUENOS AIRES—During the last
plenary session of the Buenos Aires
kehilla, its treasurer, Simon Eden-
burg, stated what was already vox
populi: that the financial situation
is very bad, with chances of wor-
sening. As is known, the kehilla
supports the Jewish school system
and also provides funds to some
Jewish institutions. The main in-
come of the kehilla stems from the
cemeteries, and a very small part
comes from the monthly dues of its
50,000 members, who don't live up
to their full obligations.
During the first 11 months of
1970, the kehilla spent roughly
$4,460,000 of which $1,600,000 went
to the schools, $75,000 for religious
needs, $150,000 for subventions of
institutions and $380,000 for social
help for poor people. Culture and
publicity absorbed some $155,000;
youth, $110,000.
President Gregorio Fain.guersch
of the kehilla stated to this cor-
respondent: "Our spirits are sad-
dened. The crisis is tremendous
and can be measured by the
thousands of families which have
become destitute and request our
aid. There have occurred several
suicide cases. The social prob-
lem is of utmost gravity."


This crisis, which began more
than a year ago, is compounded of
several factors: the general re-
cession that has afflicted the coun-
try since the May 1969 coup in
Cordoba; a specifically Jewish in-
gredient — the financial scandals
that rocked the Jewish cooperative
banks, leaving many thousands of
depositors penniless and the small
merchants without- credit (the
kehilla is in possession of $750,000
in promissory notes for cemetery
services that are not being paid
and which constitute its -heaviest
stumbling block); and the relaxa-
tion of the - Jewish moral standards,
visible in the wave of bankruptcies,
many of them fraudulent.
Another sign is the fact that in
comparison with 1968, when there
were 20,000 pupils in the Jewish
schools, there were 18,000 in 1970,
and in 1971, there will be no more
than 15,000. Though. the Buenos
Aires kehilla will provide this year
2,800 scholarships for the second-
ary schools, the average delay in
paying the teachers is four to five
months, and more than 200 of them
have been dismissed.
The 54 Jewish schools in Buenos
Aires, primary and secondary,
are struggling with a $2,000,000
deficit. One development is the
reduction of 14 secondary schools
to six to save expenses.
Of course, this depression affects
not only the kehilla. Many Jewish
financial institutions, particularly
the already mentioned cooperative
banks (those that were not liqui-
dated by the Central Bank for
fraudulent maneuvers) had to re-
duce their personnel. Another in-
stance was the action by the Insti-
tute for Human Relations of the
American Jewish Committee in
Buenos Aires, in dismissing part of
its staff and stopping publication
of its excellent journal, Commen-
tario, for financial reasons. Another
sign is the number of tombs in
the Jewish cemeteries without
tombstones, for lack of money to
build them.
Some 80 per cent of Buenos Aires
Jewry is passing through an acute
economic and financial asphyxia.
Though the phenomenon is not new,
it is assuming alarming proportions
and paralyzes not only private busi-
ness but the institutional activities
of many important organizations.
The problem reaches back, in
part, to 1968-69, when a national
trend forced all primary schools
to convert to full-day cum-lunch-
eon (integral) institutes. That
brought a heavy stress to bear on
the Jewish schools, which until
then had functioned as a supple-
ment to the national half-day
schools, as they had to offer both
ah - Nrgt,titine
v;c11 as a "Je-Wigli

(Yiddish or Hebrew) curriculum.
The Buenos Aires community
stepped in with funds and scholar-
ships for needy pupils, but the
number of those pupils had de-

As occurs in cases of crisis,
the bill is being paid by the in-
nocent. Thousands of Jewish
families in Buenos Aires have
lost their means of maintenance.
One of the more painful features
has been the wave of teacher
dismissals on the eve of the new
school term. For not very plausi-
ble reasons of economy, the more
veteran teachers have been the
first to be fired. The net result
is that an important capital in
pedagogy is being thrown over-
board, with very slim chances
of recovery.
An added motive for concern is
the presence of a new Marxist
regime in Chile that, while by no
means specifically directed against
the Jews, affects them in their
capacity as middle-class members.
By an effect of geographical prox-
imity, this development depresses
the already low spirit reigning on
this side of the Andes. It is quite-
probable that in the foreseeable
future a middle-class immigration
to Israel will become a plausible

venture for some Argentine Jews.
During the carefree years of the
fat cows, many new schools were
created and many superfluous
buildings were erected, without re-
gard for zone needs, mainly to
satisfy the urge of some activists
to be presidents and secretaries of
institutions — to gratify some in-
flated egos. The erection in 1968
of the pompous "Palace of Edu-
cation" which cost well over $1,-
000,000, is adding financial wor-
ries to the community leaders, to
the tune of some $110,000 in interest
and capital yearly. Regrettably,
Buenos Aires has overdrawn its
Nonetheless, the Jewish educa-
tional system, built over many
years with effort and devotion by
the first and second generation of
Argentinian Jews, and still pointed
to as a model, deserves to be
saved from disappearance, and
the community leaders are strug-
gling hard, against terrible odds,
to avoid a total collapse. It is felt
that in view of the facts presented
and of the bleak prospects, the
powerful Yishuv of the United
States, sympathetic to problems
elsewhere in the Jewish world,
will certainly demonstrate its in-
terest in the situation and step in
with resolve and generosity.

Boris Smolar's

'Between You
... and Me'



Editor-in-Chief Emeritus, JTA
(Copyright 1971, JTA Inc.)

JEWISH 'PICTURE HISTORY': A most beautiful book of Jewish
history—beautifully written and beautifully produced—has now
appeared in this country. It stresses Jewish civilization. Its text is
wonderfully edited by Israeli scholars, and its 230 illustrations in full
color are a pleasure for the eye and a testimony to Jewish culture
of all times.
The richly illustrated volume, "Picture History of Jewish Civiliza-
tion," published by Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York, is a narrative
of the high points of Jewish history from the Biblical times until
today. In a concise and scholarly form—extremely well-edited—it tells
the story of Jewish political and cultural ups and downs in all periods
of Jewish history, and in all countries. Its 250 pages of text, album
format, are lavishly illuminated by reproductions in full color
. .
Jewish work of art of ancient and modern times.

t'.3.2-`1 -
High praise for this excellent book must be.giyen to Dr. =
Narkis, its editor-in-chief, and his co-editors Dr. Saintiel Abramski,
Prof. David Flusser, Prof. Abraham C. -Scant and Dr. Michael Ziv.
The ptibliSher also deserves special commendation for its artful and
thoroughly enjoyable volume. It is one of a number .0f the Abrams*
Artbooki on Jewish subjects ,which the firm has, published.


PAST AND PRESENT: "The Picture History of Jewish Civiliza-
tion" opens with a presentation of the Hebrews in the Biblical period
—with facts and color ohotos from excavations—and - concludes with,
the Six Day War. In between the -reader finds chapters on the Israelite
Monarchy; on the Babylonian captivity period; on Jewish art in the
Second Temple period; on the Jewish sects known as Pharisses,
Saducees, and Essenes; and on all the aspects of Jewish spiritual life
in Palestine and- Babylonia, including the periods of the Mishna and
the Talmud.
The book also deals with the establishment of an independent
Jewish kingdom in Central Asia; with the Khazars who accepted
Judaism; with the Karaites and Masoretes; with the "Golden Age"
for Jewish in Spain; with Jewish scholarship of that period; with the
Jewish "court slaves" of European kings; with Jewish art in the Mid-
dle Ages; and with the 400 years of horror which Jews have undergone
since the First Crusade.
In the volume, the reader also finds chapters from which he
will learn how Jews adapted themselves to a new world of values after
the expulsion from Spain; the development of Hebrew printing, dance,
music, literature and art during the years of dispersion in the modern
world; Jewish life during the Renaissance period; the various move-
ments that developed in Jewry—the Massianic movement; the Frankist
movement, Hassidim, the Haskalah movement; Jewish emancipation
in France and Germany in the 19th century; and on Jewish persecu-
tions in Czarist Russia and Poland, and now in the Soviet Union.
The history of the Jews in the United States—and the role they
are playing now in giving aid to Israel—is similarly portrayed in "The
Picture History of Jewish Civilization." The Jewish impact on general
American culture, particularly on the literary scene is emphasized
and the concise chapter on the development of Jewish life in the
United States will be of special interest to American-born JeWs who
know so little of their past.
"The Picture History of Jewish Civilization" is a book that should
be in every American Jewish home. It is good reading for everybody
in the family. Because of its lavish illustrations, it will attract much
attention on the part of the younger members of the family. At a time
when we hear so much of the need to strength Jewish identity, "The
Picture History of Jewish Civilization" is a substantial contribution
in the field of making the Jewisti youth,70K.W.e11._asItriany -of_ their

Airiericin:bOrn parents. more av:Ift .'orrfil-- -11-6.--3mo,


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