THE JEWISH NEWS
isy\DIK THE WEIQH.13
Incorporating The Detroit Jewish Chronicle commencing with the issue of July .20, 1951
Member American Association of English-Jewish Newspapers. Michigan Press Association, National Editorial Association.
Published every Friday by The Jewish News Publishing Co., 17515 W. Nine Mile, Suite 865, Southfield, Mich. -18075.
Second-Class Postage Paid at Southfield, Michigan and AdditiOnal Mailing Offices. Subscription $10 a year.
Editor and Publisher
CARMI M. SLOMOVITZ
Hitsky, News Editor . . . Heidi Press. Assistant N•i%s Editor
Sabbath Scriptural Selections
This Sabbath, the 29th day of Iyar, 5736, the following scriptural selections will be read in our synagogues:
Pentateuchal portion, Numbers 1:1-4:20. Prophetical portion, I Samuel 20:18-42.
Sunday, Rosh Hodesh Sivan, Numbers 28:9 15
Friday, June 4, first day of Shavuot
Pentateuchal portion, Exodus 19:1-20:23; Numbers 28:26 31. Prophetical portion, Ezekiel 1:1 28: 3:12.
Candle lighting, Friday, May 28, 8:40 p.m.
c ol. LAM No. 12
Friday, May 28, 1976
Shavuot—Torah and the Humanities
In preparation for the observance of the
Festival of Shavuot, there are many many les-
sons of value for the Jewish people and for
— his meal is not counted as a rejoicing in a
divine command but a rejoicing in his own stom-
ach . . . a disgrace to those who indulge in it"
(Yad. Shevithat Yom Toy 6:18).
It is the Festival of the Giving of the Law,
and its teachings imply much more. The human
values emphasized in its teachings, the tradi-
n unui tions that fortify them, the Law
and the Moralities that teach man-
kind, are all imbedded in this festival's tradi-
Shavuot is called Atzeret in the Mishna and
the Talmud, in the sense that it serves as a con-
cluding festival to Pesah. In the observances of
Shavuot, the historical as well as the agricul-
tural aspects are reflected. The Decalogue is
read in the synagogue on the first day. Plants
and flowers, reminiscent of the slopes of Sinai,
decorate the bima and the aron ha-kodesh. The
first night of the festival is spent in reading an
anthology of sacred writings called Tikkun lel
Shavuot, a custom not commonly observed these
days. The book of Ruth is read for its descrip-
tion of a summer harvest in Israel. The book of
Ruth and the famous liturgical poem Akdamut
are read before the reading of the Torah which
is likened to milk, according to the allegorical
interpretation of the Song of Songs ("Honey and
milk are under your tongue').
Dr. Philip Birnbaum, in "A Book of Jewish
Concepts," defined the holiday so impressively
that this explanatory brief essay points to every
aspect of notable inspirations provided by Sha-
vuot. Rabbi Birnbaum's Shavuot essay affirms:
The Shavuot festival, otherwise known as
Pentecost (50th day) or Feast of Weeks, was cel-
ebrated primarily as a thanksgiving for the
wheat harvest; it falls seven weeks after the
barley harves t, when an • omer of the new pro-
duce was offered. The Torah refers to Shavuot
as Hag ha-Katsir (the feast of the harvest) and
Yom ha-Bikkurim (the day of first fruits), ob-
served by offerings of the best ripe produce of
the fields (Exodus 23:16; Numbers 28:26). Begin-
ning with the second day of Passover, seven
weeks or 49 days were carefully counted, and
the 50th day was celebrated as the beginning of
the wheat harvest or the festival of the first
fruits. Hence the Sefira (counting) period ob-
served to this day between the second day of Pe-
sah and Shavuot.
In the course of time, as a result of the
transformation of the agricultural festivals into
historical commemorations, the additional sig-
nificance of Shavuot as the Festival of the Giv-
ing of the Torah at Mount Sinai completely over-
shadowed its original significance. Though the
Bible does not identify Shavuot with the anni-
versary of the giving of the Ten Command-
ments, the tradition, undisputed in the Talmud,
has been that the Torah was given on the sixth
day of Sivan. The name Hag Shavuot occurs in
Deuteronomy 16:10, where we are told that each
pilgrim was to offer what he felt disposed to
"You shall count seven weeks from the day
when the sickle is first put to the standing grain.
You shall then keep the Feast of Weeks in honor
of the Lord your God, and the measure of your
freewill offering shall be in proportion to the
blessing that the Lord your God bestowed on
you. You shall rejoice before the Lord your God
with your son and daughter, your male and fe-
male servants, and the Levite of your commu-
nity, as well as the stranger and the fatherless
and the widow among you . . ." (Deuteronomy
Hence, Maimonides writes: "Women should
have clothes and pretty trinkets bought for
them, according to one's means . . . And while
one eats and drinks, it is his duty to feed the
stranger, the orphan, the widow, and other poor
and unfortunate people, for he who locks the
doors to his courtyard and eats and drinks with
his wife and family, without giving to the poor
Thus, the Law is inseparable from human
obligations. Too often a Jewish festival has its
impact on observers merely because they are oc-
casions to enjoy good food.
At one of the earliest World Zionist Con-
gresses, Dr. Max Nordau referred to such devo-
tees of the festivals, and he posed the question,
in his challenge to the indifference to the great
libertarian ideal offered by Zionism: "Sie sind
auch Juden? Sie sind bauch-Juden!" ("Are they
also Jews? They are stomach Jews!"
Dr. Birnbaum provides a lesson for the unk-
nowing and indifferent, for those who limit
themselves to prayer without applying it to ac-
tion. The less fortunate need sustenance and the
basic Sacred Law demands recognition of that
principle. Perhaps now, so late in the task of
gathering aid for Israel and major Jewish causes
through the Allied Jewish Campaign it is not yet
too late to admonish the abstainers from duties
that the "bauch-Juden" are detrimental to the
quest for human values.
In these few days before Shavuot it is pro-
per to study the values of the great festival and
to urge adherence to them as an inspiration to-
wards the highest human values.
No Room for Vandals
Bomb throwing is wrong under any cir-
cumstance and whatever boasting about such
crimes is done in the name of the Jewish com-
munity will never be tolerated.
Russia's treatment of Jews is intolerable
and will be fought with all means at the disposal
of liberty-loving people. But the weapons will be
through the media, by exposing the crime in
public tribunals, as means of arousing public
opinion in defense of just rights for all in the
Bomb throwing at consulates and embas-
sies, at the UN or anywhere else is un-Jewish
and un-American and stands condemned by
Russo-Japanese War Era
Recalled in New JPS Book
Unusual episodes relating to a bygone age and recollections of the
Russo-Japanese war era are told in a new Jewish Publication Society
volume, "The Samurai of Vishogrod." The story is reconstructed from
the notebooks of Jacob Marateck and is retold here by Shimon and
The story relates, humorously, zestfully, with an ability to de-
scribe the adventures and exploits of a sharp-witted man, the events
of some 70 years ago.
_ Jacob Marateck, the protagonist of this unusual memoir, begins
his picaresque journey at the age of 12, fleeing the yeshiva and the
rigors of the scholarly life.
Following a series of misadventures, he returns to the poor village
of Vishogrod to face the wrath of his father and , after a brief and
mortifying attempt to make his fortune on his native grounds, pro-
ceeds to join his brother in the "vast modern metropolis" of Warsaw.
He quickly learns that the glittering opportunities of that won-
drous city are not open to poor Jewish youths. "The Samurai of Vishos
grod" portrays Marateck's professional development from a rebellious
baker's apprentice to a teen-age labor organizer to a revolutionary
When he reached military age, he was "pitchforked" into the
czar's army, where, amidst the bureaucratic incompetence and slap-
stick horrors of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05, he earned an
above-average number of both medals and death sentences.
The material for these intriguing recollections was drawn from
the numerous nickel notebooks that Jacob Marateck filled in a Yiddish
scrawl at a kitchen table in the Bronx during the Great Depression of
The torrent of memories, images, stories, and anecdotes which
form the basis of. the book reveal Jacob Marateck as a natural-born
storyteller. He is a writer with a devastating eye for revealing detail
whose portrayal of the Jewish experience during the colorful and vi-
olent period preceding the Russian Revolution is both hilarious and
To prepare this huge windfall of notebook material for publica-
tion called not only for translation and editing, but frequently also for
connective passages of imaginative reconstruction.
In all these tasks the late Jacob Marateck has been uniquely well
served by his youngest daughter, Anita Marateck Wincelberg, and her
Shimon Wincelberg is an author, playwright, and writer for
screen and television. He is a three-time winner of the Writers Guild ---
of America Award for year's best-written TV script.
Anita is a writer and journalist. Her critical essays and transla-
tions have appeared in a variety of publications. She has also collabo-
rated with her husband on a novel, "Send Money and Stay Home."
Dr. Marcus' Bicentennial
Volume Published by Ktav
Dr. Jacob R. Marcus' notable publication "Jews and the American
Revolution: A Bicentennial Documentary," is now being published by
Ktav Publishing House.
Many of Dr. Marcus' noteworthy articles, providing scholarly re-
search as well as human insights into the participation and contribu-
tions of Jewish Americans in the struggle for independence and free-
dom, have already appeared in The Jewish News as Bicentennial
Originally published by the American Jewish Archives, the vol-
ume includes 10 historic photographs, several long essays explaining
major Jewish 'contributipris and . a series. of unabridged letters, with
explanations, written 'by prdmineht jeWish patriots of the time.