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June 28, 1974 - Image 6

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1974-06-28

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

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Boris Smolar's

'Between You
• . . and' Me'

Editor-in-Chief Emeritus, JTA
(Copyright 1974, JTA Inc.)

JDC AND FALASHAS: Some 50 years ago, a middle-
aged man entered the editorial offices of the Jewish Tele-
graphic Agency in New York, and introduced himself. "I
am Dr. Jacques Faitlowitz," he said.
Dr. Faitlowitz — a Polish-horn Jewish scientist who
resided in France — was known throughout the Jewish
world as the "discoverer" of the Black Falasha Jews in
Abyssinia, now Ethiopia. For more than 2,000 years these
Jews have been completely isolated from the rest of the
Jewish world, so much so that anything that happened to
Jews after the destruction of the First Temple remained
unknown to them. They still mourn today the destruction
of the First Temple, but they do not know that a Second
Temple was built later and was also destroyed.
The estrangement of the Falasha Jews from the rest of
world Jewry during the 2,000 years of their isolation led to
their being completely ignorant of Hanuka, Purim and
other Jewish holidays marked by events which took place
after the fall of Jerusalem in the First Jewish War. Their
Jewishness is limited to obeying the laws of the• Torah, in-
cluding circumcision, observance of the Sabbath, and the
fasting on Yom Kippur. But they know nothing of the
Talmud, which took several hundred years to write and of
any developments in Jewish life in the Middle Ages and in
modern times. They remained a community forgotten to
Jews throughout the world until they were discovered by
Dr. Faitlowitz who studied the Ethiopian and Amharic.
languages in Paris and lived fo'r about 18 months among
the Falashas.
FALASHAS IN ISRAEL: In appearing at the JTA head-
quarters in New York, Dr. Faitlowitz appealed for publicity
for his cause. It was his first visit to the United States on
behalf of the Falasha Jews and he had no funds to present
their cause to American Jewry.
The JTA gave him a desk in its office, permitted him
to use the address of the office for his correspondence, and
attempted to make his cause known to Jews in this country.
He succeeded in forming a Pro-Falasha Committee in New
York, which however melted away after several years of
collecting small sums used by Dr. Faitlowitz to establish
the first Jewish schools for Falasha children in Abyssinia.

LOS ANGELES (JTA) — cies and departments, and
The Jewish Federation-Coun- affiliated groups serving the
cil of Los Angeles has pur- huge Jewish community was
.chased a high-rise building, rapidly outgrowing facilities
at a cost of $3,000,000, to sup- at the present site.
plant its present structure.
The 11-story new home for
the federation, which will The upper class would be
serve as a focal point for in the middle class if any-
local and West Coast Jewish body sold on the installment
community organizations, has plan.
three times as much space
as the present facility.
Edward Sander s, JF-C
The fellow on the road to
president, said the growing success has an opportunity
network of federation agen- to pick up many hitchhikers.

Philly Jewish Aged to Retain Center

An intensive campaign by
400 elderly Jews resulted in
a decision by the Federation
of Jewish Agencies to con-
tinue operation of a branch
of its Jewish Ys and centers
as a center for the Jewish
senior citizens.
The campaign was cli-
maxed by a "Save Our
Building" rally staged direct-
ly across the street from
the Neighborhood Center
Leon Zimmerman, federa-

tion assistant director,
brought a personal message
to the rally from FJA presi-
dent Philip Seltzer assuring
the elderly Jews that the
federation was not consider-
ing sale of the building or
had ever given consideration
to closing it.

People who preserve an
open mind on all debatable
questions show rare intelli-


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World War II interrupted the loose contact with the
Falashas maintained by interested Jewish groups in Europe
and the United States. But the establishment of Israel gave
new impetus to the desire of the Falasha Jews to be con-
sidered an integral part of the Jewish people.

The Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel has, after various
studies on the Falashas, decided to recognize them as Jews,
eliminating the doubts of those who questioned whether the
Falashas could be considered a part of the Jewish people.
However, to avoid any further doubts, the Chief Rabbi ruled
that they must undergo a symbolic conversion to Judaism.
At present there are about 25,000 Falasha Jews in
Ethiopia and they are primarily artisans and hired hands
on farms. They are scattered all over Ethiopia, but most
of them can be found near the city of Gondar. They live in
poverty and are in great need of medical aid. Christian
missionary groups are active in converting them to Chris-
tianity and concentrate especially on aid to children.
AID TO FALASHAS: The Joint Distribution Committee,
which aids Jews everywhere in the world, has taken no
interest in the Falashas because their Jewishness was under
a question mark. Now the JDC is beginning to study them.
It allocated funds to conduct a fundamental study of their
medical, educational and social welfare needs.
According to the information gathered by the JDC, there
are today in Ethiopia about 13 schools for Falasha children
attended by about 1,000 pupils. The schools are scattered
in a number of villages and some of the teachers are being
paid from funds supplied by the Jewish Colonization As-
sociation. Three small clinics are functioning there with
the help of OZE, the world Jewish Health Organization.

6—Friday, June 28, 1974

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