Antwerp: Community of Hasidim, Diamond - Cutters
of the Beheer Center where life and a profound desire,
Antwerp Jews have solved votes a great deal of its work
delegates of Jewish commun- among the 13,000 Jews, to in their own way the problem to the welfare of the aged.
(Copyright 1973, JTA, Inc.)
ities from all over Europe preserve their existence."
of relations with non-Jews It has a modern rest home
were holding their annual
There are five large syna- and, by extension, that of for 90 residents, a medical-
ANTWERP — The children
congress, and the stands of gogues and several chapels anti-Semitism: "We don't psychological section, and a
of Antwerp scurry along in
the World Diamond Festival in Antwerp. The main ultra- get involved in heated dis- children's care center. It is
two's and three's, their "tzit-
which community leaders Orthodox movements such as cussions with non-Jews, dis- financed by member dues
zit," long strands of white
had organized for the first the Beltzer, the Satmatter cussions which only exacer- and by gifts.
wool, sticking out of their
time in Antwerp.
and the Wishnizer, perpetu- bate our differences. "We
"There is no united fund,
shirts and waving about
Diamond - cutting, more ate the pure Hasidic tradi- avoid polemics," said the di- and the fund-raising for Israel
g ently. Black skullcaps
placed on their thick hair
than an esoteric industry or tions of central Europe.
rector of a Jewish school, takes from local needs," one
which is cut short in the back
highly-skilled craft, is an art.
Also, in keeping with an summarizing the general at- of the directors told us.
It involves a know-how which old tradition, there are no titude. An Orthodox Jew
but falls in front along their
The community's donation
surpasses theoretical treatis- conversions to Judaism in wearing a frock-coat and to Israel is one of the highest
cheeks, give them a serious
es or techniques. The Japa- the Antwerp community.
"payot," who we interviewed, in the world, the first in
air. They are all headed in
nese "tourists" who avidly
the same direction, to the
Another characteristic of added: "How could anti- Europe per person. "We once
photograph the diamond-cut- this Orthodoxy is that each Semitism take root here? r a is e d 55,000,000 Belgian
ting machines don't know this synagogue has its own choir We live apart. There's francs in two evenings," said
the shadow of the train
yet. Indians (Hindus), how- which sings at all important enough room for both on the one of the directors.
;s, one sees black frock-
ever, do and for several
coats, round hats, and
years now, have been send- services. Nowhere in an An-
"payot." Rare passersby
Ninety per cent of the com-
ing their children to become
Happy New Year
cross their paths without
find an organ.
munity's young people go to
noticing them. The foreigner
shops. It takes 10 years to be
is struck by the anachronism
able to refine a diamond and worried, however. by erosion. cording to official documents.
of this "Jerusalem-on-the-
mark its 52 immutable facets. One of them told us: "The
Scheldt" (river), which is
Europe. Three thousand chil-
20141 W. 8 Mile Rd.
In Antwerp, there is only degree of religiosity of the dren go to four J e w i s h
located south of the zoo and
community diminishes as the
of Stads Park and whose
schools recognized by the
people — that of their par- economic situation improves, State.
backbone is the railroad
ents. Here, one is a diamond- which is to say, as the way
of life becomes more liberal."
The Orthodox school, the
cutter from father to son.
"Yes, this is our big open
But this is not the only
Happy New Year To All
"Why should we send our danger. More than anything Jesode-Hatora-Beth Jacob,
ghetto, without walls," said
one of the community lead-
children to college," asks there is the slow hemorrhage with 1,200 students, is the
Prof. Peri, president of the of the young people. In peri- largest and goes from nurs-
ers. Here, far from the river
and the docks is where the
Mahsike Hadass, "since they ods of economic crisis (and ery school to high school,
1,300 Jews of Antwerp are
have to learn the trade?" this was the case some years with, in addition, a teacher
concentrated. The spacious
The first investment of an ago), the young people left training school.
Your Budweiser, Michelob
Beer and Malt Liquor Distributors
The Beheer Center, the
avenues of the new west
Antwerp Jew is to make his the country to find work else-
neighborhood, the Belgielei,
son a good diamond-cutter where — in Amsterdam and social welfare organization of 21070 Coolidge
the Brialmontlei, the Isabel-
and a good Jew, each being above all, in Israel. But when the Jewish community, de-
lalei, are lined, as if by
for him equally important.
the situation improved, man- * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
boundaries, by Jewish delica-
Happy New Year To All Our
This community, homogene- power was found wanting, so *
tessens, Jewish bookshops,
ous and compact, reflects the the diamond workshops hired *
Friends and Customers
and Jewish fine foods stores.
image of the diamond, not Indian apprentices. Once *
Eluding time's grasp, the
only because of its "purity" trained, the Indians opened
Antwerp Jewish community
in the face of trials and their own workshops in New : S &
seems impregnable to the
tribulations, but because of Delhi. This meant competi- * 23262 TELEGRAPH
Telephone 352-4656 *
p r o bl e m s threatening all
its many facets. In it, one tion for Antwerp and a new
other European Jewish com-
finds all the political parties economic crisis, causing
munities: dissolution, mixed
* 4 * * * -er * * * * *
and tendencies which char- more young people to leave, k * * * * * * * *
marriages, the loss of Jewish
acterize Jewish life every- and thus perpetuating the
culture and anti-Semitism.
Antwerp seems a haven, a
To this must be added the
youths fascination with Is-
sheltered from all these vicis-
1) The Mahsike Hadass, rael. A large number of
situdes, but it has no walls
the Orthodox, strict sect of young "cleavers" have emi-
surrounding it, at least not
Manufacturers of Mercury Paints
community, whose spirit- grated to Israel, not to much
in the physical sense.
ual head is Rabbi Charles because of the country's de-
Kreiswirth. One of its lead- veloning diamond industry,
ers told us it counts around but for sentimental reasons.
The Antwerp Jewish com-
2) The Shomre Hadass, munity has woven around its
which labels itself Orthodox young people a protective co-
New Year Greetings
but which accepts the des- coon whose threads are felt
cription "national religious everywhere. Whereas in the
community" and "Zionist," United States and in France
led by Rabbi H. Medalie. It the number of mixed marri-
consists of a bout 1,200 ages has reached startling
15000 W. 7 Mile Road
Proportions and threatens
3) The Sephardic commun- those communities with dis-
ity, regrouping about 50 fam- solution, "in Antwerp, we
ilies of Portuguese or Span- have had not marriages with
non-Jews," a rabbi told us.
Each community thus "There have been some," re-
organizes and directs its own plied a student, "but the
Wish their customers, relatives
religious life, Each has its community ostracized them
own synagogue, ritual baths, completely, in the literal
friends a Very Happy New Year
schools, religious courts , sense of the word, since the
slaughter services, religious children were forbidden to
education courses and funer- attend Jewish schools."
Whereas late in the eve-
als. There exist two separate
Open 365 days a year to 10 p.m.
cemeteries situated not in ning, Antwerp youth drink
Belgium, curiously enough, beer in the city's many stu-
On The New Year
but in Holland. "Another dent cafes, "not a single
country yes, but only 20 kilo- young Jew can be found in
meters f r o m Antwerp," those places," said Perl.
Amiel, one of the commun-
For Schamisse, this intro-
Food Waste Disposer
verted life can be explained
ity's leaders told us.
Proud of their traditions, "perhaps because a large
321 S. DOBSON
the Antwerp communities Dart of the Jewish population
cannot accept Belgian legis- has not yet had the time to
lation which requires com- sink deep roots in the coun-
mon cemeteries for all, try." Going back a little in
We Extend Our Bet Wishes
Meek M. Walker, District Sales Manager
cemeteries which are razed history, one must remember
every 20 to 30 years. "In that the Antwerp community
For A Year Of Abundance,
Holland, there are Jewish was completely wiped out
Health And Prosperity
cemeteries and perpetual during World War II. The
ownership of plots," Amiel new wave of emigrants from
To All Our Friends, Customers.
Eastern Europe, from the
- • ,
Diversity is even greater concentration camps, is still
inside these three commun- monolithic, but, said an An-
ities, for one finds over 50 twerp personality, "we ex-
different organizations, al- pect the problem of assimila-
most as many as the facets tion to come up again, and
of a diamond. This reflects, soon, as it did between the
according to the director of wars, when our youth, de-
the Jesode-Hatora-Beth Jacob veloping roots here, identi-
Friday, Sept. 28, 1973-69 school, "an intense Jewish fied with Belgium."
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
By PEGGY TAYLOR
JTA Paris Correspondent
And yet, the community's
role in this Belgian metro-
polis is of the first import-
ance. Its economic weight is
such that its disappearance
or immigration would present
very serious financial prob-
lems to the area. The local
political and economic au-
thorities do everything they
can to make sure An-
twerp remains one of the
leading, if not the leading,
diamond center in Europe.
The community's economic
weight far surpasses its nu-
merical importance. The Jew-
ish community makes up only
2 per cent of the town's 550,-
Nowhere in Europe, (and
this has been true for cen-
turies) has there been a com-
able to that of Antwerp Jews.
"Nearly 90 per cent of An-
twerp Jews are in the dia-
mond business in one way or
another," said Maurice Scha-
misse, president of the Be-
Antwerp Jews work so ex-
clusively in the diamond in-
dustry that those who are not
in it can easily be counted.
Out of 13,000 Antwerp Jews
15 are professional people, 12
are physicians, and three are
lawyers, according to official
The diamond cutters and
merchants club on Pelikaan
Street, just a few steps from
the main train station, is the
hub of the diamond industry
and of the community. The
ultra-modern building, guard-
ed by armed watchmen who
screen all visitors, includes a
cafeteria where one hears
men talking shop — in this
case carats — in Flemish,
French and Yiddish.
Community leaders were
exceptionally busy in June.
Their time was divided be-
tween work at their club
offices, the conference rooms
M HEATING SALES CO.
SOBERMAN & MILGROM
New Year Greetings
IN YOUR COMMUNITY.
WHEN YOU NEED US,
WILDE REGISTER 81 GRILLE CO.
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Best Wishes for a
oliday S eason
Re tjtaili c
NORT HL AND
11 PAUL INMAN 1