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September 28, 1973 - Image 80

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1973-09-28

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

Communal idmily,
Future With

j

By MANDELL L. BERMAN

President, Jewish Welfare Federation of Detroit

With the coming of a new year it is time for us to
reflect on what we have done throughout this past year
and what we hope to accomplish in the future. When we
pause and consider our past and future plans, we realize
the difficulty of drawing fast lines between previous per-
formance and what we hope
to accomplish. We see, in fact,
that seemingly fulfilled goals
usually must be adjusted furth-
er in order to meet the com-
munity's growing needs.
We are a communal family
working together. We are con-
cerned with continuing to pro-
vide a Jewish environment for
ourselves and for those who
succeed us.—We take pride to
note not only what we have
done together but also what
we can still do for our own
and our children's sake in the
coming years.
Let us take a look at some
of the accomplishments that MANDELL L. BERMAN
have become realities due to
our cooperative efforts. The Jewish Community Center is

Together, Wei



Er

L

expanding its social programs to help meet the needs of
all ages, from its parent-toddler program to its col-
legiate drop-in evening activities to its senior citizens'
clubs.
The Fresh Air Society has pioneered a program for
retarded children. A new camping unit for emotionally
disturbed children will be fully operative next summer.
These are in addition to the regular camping experience
normally offered to thousands of Jewish youngsters each
season.
Resettlement Service is presently guiding numerous
newly-arrived families through the complexities of a life
unfamiliar to them. How many of us can still recall the
years when our Jewish existence in other lands was op-
pressed and threatened? Adjustment to America and
to Detroit often required much time. This Federation
agency continues to assist in the absorption of several
recent immigrant Russian families.
We thus see that at the New Year we not only think
about new challenges. We also realize the necessity of
maintaining our earlier accomplishments, the need for
strengthening already created programs. Maintenance and
firm support of programs for improving the quality of
our lives is crucial.
We note that although we have worked together
to build Jewish Homes for Aged and Community Cen-
ters, we must maintain and keep them vital with our
energies and our resources. Although we have created
the Jewish Vocational Service, we are continuously ex-

es

ear,
Goals

1,, I

14.0

573-

panding efforts to aid people who are in need of jobs

or vocational rehabilitation, whether they be teen-agers
or retirees.
Already we have aided in the rescue and absorption
of those multitudes of Jews who have claimed Israel as
their homeland during the past twenty five wars, yet we
must continue to support Israel as she strives to main-
tain the freedom and dignity which she provides for her
citizens.
All of our accomplishments are ours as a community,
unified in its concern for Jews here at home and around
the world.
Only when we work together can we most silo
fully provide the funds and creative talent that we
and in Israel so desperately need for human service:
In addition to our innovative allocations• for Jewish
education activities undertaken in the past year, only
when we work together as a community can we further
proceed to meet the crucial educational needs of our high
school youth. This task perhaps eludes the ability of any
single constituency locally.
Hearing the pleas for help and confident in our abil-
ity to respond to them, we pledge continued concern and
commitment to our fellow men. Let the sounding of the
shofar at this New Year impel us to renew our energies
toward these goals. Let us resolve together that we, the
Jewish residents of greater Detroit, will find additional
strength to successfully meet tomorrow's challenges.

George Gershwin's 75th Birth Date an Occasion
for Musical Rededication to Eminent Composer

This week there has been a scramble
for a new stamp marked:
II. S. 8 cents
American Composer
George Gershwin
The communications media is giving
preference to the music of this brilliant com-
poser whose 75th birthday was marked
Wednesday.
A demand for new recordings of the
Gershwin music adds to the attention given
to the birth date of the great musician
who created so much, whose works are in
greatest demand, whose scores for ballets
remain among the most significant, who
also loved to paint and whose piano playing
was part of a dedication that made him
the life of a party.
He died tragically, at 39. He had worked
closely with his brother Ira, who wrote
many of the lyrics for his musical composi-
tions. He labored with the great of his day,
in advancing the music that made the
Gershwin name imperishable. The most
noted actors of the century performed in
casts that are linked with musicals made
famous by Gershwin music.

A great book, published by Atheneum,
tells the Gershwin story. "The Gersh-
wins" appears on the 75th birthday of
the man who made musical history in
the few years of his creative efforts. The
book, like the Gershwin music, is the
sensation of the week.

Wilson's biographical notes contain inter-
esting facts about Morris Gershwin, the
philosophical father in the poker-playing
atmosphere; the mother, Rose Gershwin,
who wanted the children to have a good
education and who had to yield to George's
desire for a piano and to devote himself to
piano-playing: "She opposed George's de-
sire to become a musician, thinking of such
a career in terms of a $25-a-week piano
player. But she did nothing to stand in
George's way when he left school to take
his first job as a pianist."
Ira Gershwin's story as a collaborator
with brother George is fully accounted for,
and there is the story of another brother:
"Arthur, the third Gershwin son, started
out on violin, but soon gave it up. It was at
a time when George had just begun to study
piano. Arthur complained that George could
take his lessons sitting down whereas violin
lessons meant standing up. After abandon-
ing the violin, Arthur became a stockbroker
and, eventually, a pianist who played by ear
—and, of course, sitting down."
And the Wilson bio chapter also contains
this informative paragraph:

This is the extent of Jewish background
to be found in "The Gershwins." But there
is also the account of the funeral at Temple
Emanu-El, New York, July 15, 1937, Stephen
S. Wise delivering the eulogy.
All the great of the time in New York
were at the funeral service: Mayor Fiorello
LaGuardia, former Mayor James J. Walker,
George M. Cohan, Al Jolson, Walter Dam-
rosch. There were 3,500 in the temple, 1,000
outside, to pay tribute to the master who
died of a brain tumor.
For musicians, for students of the history
of the Gershwin arts, for those who study
the theater, this volume is magnificently
revealing. The great stars of the Gershwin
generation—the Astaires, the Marx brothers,
the Ritz brothers, Ginger Rogers, stars in
"The nature of that Gershwin house- all categories of the theater, they are re-
hold — its priority values — may be corded to attest to an impressive Gershwin
summed up most readily in the matter career.
cf Ira's name. As a boy, he was always
"The Gershwins" is significant for many

Robert Kimball, who was the author or
the great book "Cole" about Cole Porter, co-
authored "The Gershwins" with Alfred E.
Simon. Like "Cole," the new work is large,
replete with the list of Gershwin's musical
works, splendidly illustrated, serving almost
as an encyclopedia of the stage and its
actors in the years of the Gershwin domina-
tion on Broadway; and as an anthology of
musical scores and the ballets of those
exciting years of music-making by two
eminent brothers.

Richard Rodgers' introduction to this
volume, already reproduced in a recent
NYTimes arts and leisure section, is a
beautiful tribute to a notable personality.
George Gershwin's love of art, his ability
to paint and to draw, his acquisition of a
Chagall before Chagall's works became
almost prohibitive price-wise—especially
his leve for the piano and his mastery of
it—these are recounted by a friend and
admirer.

Then there is the biographical foreword
by the NYTimes jazz critic, John S. Wilson,
and the commendable designing of the book
by Bea Feitler, art director of Ms. magazine.

80—Friday, Sept. 28, 1973

known as Izzy and he assumed that his
name was Isadore, although neither of
his parents could remember the name
they had given him when he was born.
When he was 30 years old and applying
for a passport, Ira found out for the first
time that It!s name was legally Israel.
(George was named Jacob, after his pa-
ternal grandfather, Yakov Gershovitz)."

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

more reasons. It contains a chronology of
the shows with the Gershwin songs. This in
itself is history-making for musicians. It
includes an alphabetical listing of all the
Gershwin songs. There is a section "Dis-
cography of Original Cast Recordings and
Studio Re-Creations." There is a "Piano
Rollography." These fill many pages, attest-
ing to the unusual list of Gershwin's musical
creations.
There are a number of reproductions of
Gershwin's art work — his paintings, a full
page drawing of his brother Ira, the ac-
companying one of George himself dated
June 9, 1931.
In "The Gershwins" is the full record of
the great productions that still enchant, that
bear the famous name, that are imperish-
able, like "Porgy and Bess" in which "I
Got Plenty of Nuthin' " remains one of the
very exciting and moving songs (lyrics by
Ira Gershwin and Rose Heyward). Note
refrain 2 of this song:
I clot plenty o' nuthin'.
An' nuthin's plenty fo' me.
I got de sun, got de moon, got
de deep blue sea.
De folks wid plenty o' plenty,
Got to pray all de day.
Seems wid plenty you sure got to worry
How to keep de Debbie away,
A-way.
I ain't a-frettin"bout Hell
Till de time arrive.
Never worry long as I'm well,
Never one to strive
To be good, to be bad—
What the hell! I is glad
l's alive.
Oh, I got plenty o' nuthin'
An' nuthin's plenty fo' me.
I got my gal, got my song,
Got Hebben de whole day long.
(No use comptainin'!)
Got my gal, got my Lawd, got my song!
The genius of Gershwin is defined in the
concluding sentences of this wonderful book:
"The music of George Gershwin did not
stop with his death. It has spread and
flourished in the years since then even more
than it did during his lifetime. His music
and the songs he wrote with Ira have proved
to be touchstones that Americans and others
throughout the world continue to return to
as a source of musical vitality and inspira-
tion. It can be said that the Gershwins wrote
'period pieces' in that they captured a
period. But, in a larger sense, their work
was best described by Ira himself in the
remarkably prophetic title he gave one of
their earliest collaborations — 'The Real
American Folk Song.' " —P.S.

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