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November 01, 1974 - Image 2

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1974-11-01

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Purely Commentary

The Establishment and the Future of Jewish Movements

S'everal years ago the American Jewish
sion, the national bodies must initiate
signifiCant administrative and program-
community became seriously concerned
matic changes. But these changes will
about the revolt of youth. Establishment
have little positive effect until the
was challenged. Identity was endangered.
Jewish Establishment is prepared to
Because talk, about Establishment has les-
adopt a basic policy that places Jew-
ish concerns above other interests and
sened, does it point to greater decline in
that is dedicated to Jewish survival
interest or is it an augury of progress?
rather than to Jewish martyrdom.
The fact is that there is greater criti-
The fearless Strober approach to the
cism of elders by elders than by youth. status
of the Jewish community merits se-
The situation of the Russian emigres and rious consideration. It inspires discussion,
the slowness with which the U. S. Senate and that's most important .It doesn't solve:
has acted on the most favored nations pro- it leads to serious self-examination; and if
posals in the trade bill as a result of White ever American Jewry needed it, it is today.
House pressures, the gravity of the Middle
*
East situation, the apparent ) decline in
Strober aroused some serious thinking.
standards of Jewish education—these and
many more vital matters have become He hasn't told the complete story about
cause for concern. It is important, there- Establishment. The dispute is an old one.
fore, that the views of a man who has Many will recall the time when, in the
been involved in activities of a national process of formulating a democratized Jew-
Jewish organization should be taken into ish community, there were protests against
shtadlanut. It echded the medievalism of
consideration.
individual interceders in defense of Jews.
Gerald S. Strober, who has served on the
In older times a person who was spe-
staff of the American Jewish Committee
for several years, offers many important cially privileged in the high government
views on the Establishment puzzle in his circles could plead effectively in behalf of
new book, "American Jews: Community their kinsmen. Later, the term shtadlan
in Crisis," (Doubleday). Scheduled to de- became an invective. Is there ,Mill shtadla-
fine his attitudes as a speaker at one of nut in Jewish ranks, even if such interces-
the current Jewish Center Book Fair ses- sions are by groups? The limitations of
such groups, the authority with which they
sions.
must act, are the cause for frequent dis-
Strober's views deserve advance. con- satisfactions.
sideration. In his book he defined Jewish
The fact is that complaints in this re-
Establishment as follows:
spect have no rationale. If popular interest
By "Jewish Establishment" I mean were more expressive; if protesters against
that amalgam of national human re- "Leadership" Establishment decisions were
lations and defense agencies such as more vocal, shtadlanut would not be a
the American Jewish Committee, the subject for renewed dispute. By the same
Anti-Defamation League of Bnai Brith, 'form of reasoning, Establishment is less
the American Jewish Congress, the deserving of condemnation because the
National Jewish Community Relations populace
acceded so readily, so often gets
Advisory Council and the major local what it deserves.
area community organizations.
Inseparable from the subject of shtad-
One is compelled to ask whether this lanut and interventions is the position
that
tells the whole story. Aren't there some was held
on
many
occasions
with
European
political involvements? What about the royalty by the
court Jews. This is in itself
fund-raisers and the influence of wealth as
a possible dominant factor in controlling a subject of great social and political im-
portance. It links closely with the issue of
"leadership"?
involving the democratization of American
Strober has confidence in the survival Jewish communities as contrasted by the -
of Jewish organizations—the very group he roles of self-appointed shtadlanim who were
lists as "Establishment," and his comments equated with the court Jews. It would be
are:
well for young Jews especially, in their
The survival of these groups,- and concern over Establishment, to delve into
despite my persistent criticisms I trust the court Jews spectacles.
they will survive, depends on their
In any event, even mere discussing' of
carving out a distinctive role that will
the
issues and of the leaderships involved
contribute to Jewish continuity in
America while recognizing an ongoing already adds valuable improvement in
responsibility to Israel's survival and evaluating conditions and in planning com-
development. To accomplish this mis- munity action.

Philip

Maligned Establishment Under Scrutiny . . . Its Relationship
By
to Shtadlanut and the Old-Time Court Jews ... Jews in Politics,
the Fund-Raisers—Memory of Louis Marshall 'Jewish Vote' Ode t 310MOVitZ

Jews in Politics as a Polemical Issue

On the eve of next Tuesday's election ;.
the many controversies it has engendered
on the national, state and local scenes, the
competitive conflicts that involve many
Jewish candidates, 'another 'author, on this
subject, merits special attention.
Stephen D. Isaacs . (another of the speak-
ers on the agenda of this. year's Detroit
Jewish Center Book Fair), in 2 sensational
book, "JewS and American Politics" (Dou-
bleday), covers a vast and interesting field
that has intrigued many writers, columnists,
news commentators and political reporters,
as well as politicians of all ilks.
In more' than one sense, the Isaacs
book is a panoramic view of American
Jewry. The author does not necessarily
deal' with politics per se. He concerns him-
self with the financiers who make the
political wheels go round. He deals with
statesmen who are called into action by
politicians. He is concerned with the move-
ments _that are
called or likened to
pressure groups; whereas the aims of such
causes are more humanitarian thin they
are political.
To dispose of the latter point, a very
recent analytical column on one of the most
urgent issues of the present era—that of
the emigration of Russian Jews and their
freedoms—comes in handy. Writing in the
Detroit News (Oct. 23) on the subject Ford
Wins •a Star on Jewish - Emigration, J. F.
terHorst stated:
"No single ethnic bloc in the U. S. has
more political clout than the American
Jewish community."
Similar viewpoints, in issues involving
Israel, the Zionist movement, opposition to
anti-Semitism and other related social and
human needs—most of which require sup-
port from politicians to prevent incursion
of bigotries—have proven irritable so often,
that it may be useless to revert to them in
anguish.
When a cause is right, why should the
political "clout" be considered sort of a
pressurizer? This objection happens to be
substantiated in the same issue of the De-
troit News, on the very page on which the
terHorst article appeared, in that newspa-
per's editorial (Detente No One Way Street),
dealing with the Russian question and the
issue over the most-favored-nation congres-
sional debate.
The Detroit. News pointed out that the
only gain made in behalf of the U. S., in
the wheat deal with the USSR, was the
concession on emigration of those desiring
to leave the Soviet Union. And on this
score the Detroit News stated as a conclu-
sion to its editorial: that "it is something
which it (the USSR) should have done
without any pressure or concessions from
the. United States anyway."
*
*
*
* * *
Get the point?
Sonenklar and Chajes: Currently Honored
At any rate the "accusation" that Jews
A community's history often reflects the sitions are played not only in this country are politically a "clout" with special pow-
personification of its distinguished citizens. and in Israel but in many other lands.
ers occupies an important place in consid-
Greater Detroit often pays debts of'honor
The 35th anniversary of the Center Sync. eration of the political issue.
for the accomplishments of the select who phony Orchestra, being celebrated at this
Isaacs is a skillful journalist, and his
stand out in their professions.
time, calls attention to an important musical thoroughness in conducting research on the
Two such men have earned the limelight organization that came into being as a result subject of his revealing work is evident,
in this community in the coming weeks, a of his efforts. His enthusiasm gave courage especially insofar as the current national
noted hazzan and a distinguished pianist, to many musicians. His orchestra became scene is concerned. He knows the inroads
one of Detroit Jewry's proud contributions into Washington and he has traced many
composer and orchestra conductor.
Dedicating the Sabbath of Nov. 9 to to the cultural life of this city.
of the earlier Jewish experiences.
Cantor Jacob H: Sonenklar, the Shaarey
Julius Chajes has earned all the honors
His references to Morris Hiliquit of the
Zedek synagogue calls attention to a man of that may be accorded him on the 35th Socialist New York East Side era, his
distinction, an outstanding cantor, a musi- anniversary of his creative life in Detroit.
recollection of the only Jew to have served
* *
cian of note and a devoted participant in
as a Socialist member of Congress—Meyer
Jewish affairs.
Julien Bryan, Remarkable Traveloguer London, also of that era—these and similar
Honored on his 80th birthday, Shaarey
Julien Bryan was a great photographer. instances are most valuable in a discussion
Zedek and the community at large will He was fascinating as a reporter describing of Jewish interests in politics.
recall the many „musical inspirations that his tours of the world in lectures at the
It is notable that Isaacs takes into ac-
stemmed from his cantorial tasks, the devo- Detroit Adventure series and similar or- count the Henry A. Kissinger saga. So
tion he gave to his spiritual calling, the love ganizations throughout the world.
many puzzles are resorted to 'in discussing
he gave to and drew from his congregants
His travelogues were highly rated be- the Kissinger role in American diplomacy
for liturgy as well as folk song.
cause of his dedication to the tasks he had —Isaacs relates to the American Jewish
political interests — that the comments in
Cantor Sonenklar has done more. During undertaken.
his nearly 50 years in Detroit he has been
George F. Pierrot brought him often this book on issues about the role of the
an activist in the Zionist movement. He has to speak on Israel for Detroit Adventure secretary of state are of great importance.
Kissinger's rise to greatest heights in
played important roles in educational and Series. The splendor of the Isaeli lectures
fund raising causes, and has never been won for him an award from the National American diplomacy was not without re-
wanting when called upon to render service. Council of Jewish Audio-Visual Materials. perdussions. There have been anti-Semitic
He rightfully deserves honors from his fel-
Julien Bryan's enthusiasm for his work references to him, one newspaper called
low citizens.
was matched only by his very pleasant per- him a "kike," and prejudices were in evi-
Similarly Julius Chajes has a role of dis- sonality. He was a remarkable man who dence. But Isaacs also indicates that Kissin-
tinction here. He is acknowledged as one of has left a mark of respect . and affection ger has been viewed with suspicion in Jewish
ranks as well:
the generation's finest pianists. His compo- with all who knew him.
Politics as described in the Isaacs book
2—Friday, November 1, 1974 THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
is not without anti-Semitic repercussions,

.

yet it is not a matter for extreme em-
phasis.
Many episodes on the political arena add
zest—juicy at times—to the reported ex-
periences on the American scene vis-a-vis
the Jews as politicians, supporters of pol-
iticians and the politicians themselves. Not-
able among the personalities is the best
known of them in American Jewry, De-
troiter Max M. Fisher. He is described by
Isaacs as "the best known Jewish fund
raiser- in 'American politics."
Fisher is quoted as believing that it is
obvious that political contributors would
come from the ranks of the charity con-
tributors. Only rarely, he said, accordir
to Isaacs, have big political givers be
nongivers to charities.
Fisher's role politically traces many
the aspects which involved the Jewish
community that responded to his involve-
ments in the 1972 successful Republican
campaign, and numerous other American
leaders are referred to as factors in polit-
ical transformations that drew many Demo-
crats into Republican ranks.
This is where CREEP (Committee
for the Re-Election of the President--
Nixon) creeps in, with the emphasis
on Jewish involvements.
Isaacs refers to the term Court Jew in
old-time Jewish experiences of interceding
with royalty in defense of Jews. The sub-
ject would have been more complete had
he 'gone into details about that interesting
subject of interceders.
Isaacs overlooked- one major factor in
the basic discussions regarding politicians:
that of the frequently-resorted-to charge of
the extent of "the Jewish vote." Like other
"ethnic" groups, if the term can be applied
to Jews, Jews have been mainly in the
Democratic ranks. There have been
changes.
In the early yearS of this century Jews,
enamored by Theodore Roosevelt, were
largely:Republican. There was a turn to
the Democrats in the Woodrow Wilson era,
and overwhelmingly Democratic under
Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Tru-
man. Changes then begin to be evident.
The question of the "Jewish vote" be-
came a subject of controversy when Louis
Marshall protested against it vigorously in
1916. (For a full review of the debate in
which Louis Marshall was involved, see
Purely Commentary, July 12, 1974). Dis-
cussion of Jews in politics is hardly com-
plete without 'giving consideration to Mar-
shall's view on the then heated subject.
Isaacs makes reference to the accusa-
tions of Jewishness that was leveled at
Franklin D. Roosevelt. Perhaps that, too,
merited a more extensive review of a claim
that became a matter of recognition by
some, and of making the late _President a
target of the Nazis.
Totally viewed Isaacs' book must arouse
great interest. Even as a Who's Who of
People in Politics, it is an interest-arous-
ing work. Even if viewed as a mere intro-
duction to more extensive studies, "Jews
and American Politics',' generates enough
enthusiasm to give it merited importance.

*

*

In the Cause of Youth Action

High ranking on the calendar of this
community's appeals for financial supp
and deep interest in aims to be suppor,
is the Bnai Brith Foundation's program for
continued effort for youth activities.
The annual dinner of the foundation
(this year to honor John J. Ricardo, a prom-
inent leader in the automoiive industry
again seeks widest possible participat2
in the movement in behalf of youth act,
ities which include the Bnai Brith Hillel
Foundation at more than 300 universities
and colleges; Bnai Brith Youth Organiza-
tions and Bnai Brith Vocational Services
helping more than 200,000 young people.
Even if only a small fraction of the
target of 200,000 youth who are in the
Bnai Brith Foundation program are to be
reached in the undertaking currently seek-
ing renewed support, the objective is com-
mendable.
'Detroit Jewry has enrolled support for
the youth activities of Bnai Brith in the
non-Jewish community 'as well, judging by
the distinguished men like Riccardo who
have been enrolled in the movement.

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