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November 05, 1976 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1976-11-05

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2 Friday, November 5, 1976


Purely Commentary

Consistency Essential in Treating
Separation Principle and Issue
Over Prayer in Schools
Religion and the traditional Church-State Sep-
aration principle are often bandied around in political
campaigns. They were heard in the just concluded
contest for the Presidency. Because of Jimmy Carter's
personal devotions and in view of Gerald Ford's en-
dorsement of prayers in the public schools in the ear-
liest of his speeches, in New Hampshire, interest
shown in religious attitudes of the candidates kept
After a White House meeting at which the major
issues, and especially the religious question, were
barely touched upon, this reporter asked President
Ford for his view on the Separation ideal and prayers
in the White House. The question addressed to the
President was:
During the New Hampshire Primary campaign
you were quoted as having spoken favorably about
the introduction of religious prayers in the Ameri-
can public schools. Do you still hold this view? What
is your stand on the church-state Separation princi-
Also, since your predecessor in the White House
had introduced religious prayer sessions in the
White House, do you also favor such methods of
introducing religiosity in the White House?
A reply in the President's behalf regrettably
arrived when The Jewish News issue just prior'to the
election was already on the press. It was written by
David S. Lissy, associate director of the White House
Domestic Council, who wrote:
First, and foremost, the President believes in
the separation of church and state. He has not and
does not plan- to have any public prayer sessions at
the White House.
From his days in Congress the President has
indicated his opposition to the Supreme Court deci-
sions which effectively prohibited nondenomina-
tional voluntary prayer in public schools. The Presi-
dent has said that he shared the view of the dissent
in that case by Justice Potter Stewart.
That same day, Thursday, Oct. 28, it was re-
ported from Cleveland that in an address there that
afternoon President Ford affirmed that stand again,
endorsing introduction of the reading of prayers in the
public schools.
The letter and speech re-opened that issue the
President himself created during his campaign in the
Primaries in New Hampshire, last February. He then
approved of prayers in the public schools and this
writer immediately assailed such an attitude in
Purely Commentary, The Detroit Jewish News, Feb.
27, 1976, under the heading "President Ford and the
American Church-State Separation Principle."
There is, unquestionably, an inconsistency in the
White House, President Ford affirming a strong stand
for Separation by banning White House prayer, while
approving the shattering of the basic Separation prin-
ciple with the introduction of prayers in the public
schools, the one citadel of religious freedom that
should be fought for to the very end.
James Earl Carter Jr. also was approached on the
subject a month before the election. Liberty magazine
asked Mr. Carter many questions and in its issue of
September-October published them under the title
"Jimmy Carter on Church and State." Here is the vie-
wpoint of the President-Elect on religion in the White
Liberty: You said recently that if elected Presi-
dent, you would join the nearest Baptist church and
go there every Sunday. Does this mean you intend to
'discontinue all Sunday services at the White House?
Carter: I would not have special services in the
White House for different denominations. As a Bap-
tist, I would like to have my worship be routine and
unpublicized. I would like to participate in a regular
church congregation. When I became governor of
Georgia, I joined the nearest Baptistchurch to the
governor's mansion the first Sunday I was in At-
lanta. I taught Sunday school and became a deacon. I
was a member of the congregation, and after two or
three weeks my presence was no longer a public
event. That is what I would prefer as President.
Now, I wouldn't want to make a promise that I
would never have a religious service at the White
House. If there should develop a problem in going to
the public services in a Baptist church, and if there
were members of my staff or families who wanted to
have worship in the White House with me, I would do
that on occasion, just as I would in my own home in
Plains, Ga. There might be other times when a
prayer breakfast, or some other prayer event that I
would feel a need for, seemed proper, and I would
reserve the right to have it. But as a routine matter,
my worship would be in the nearest Baptist church.
It is apparent that public opinion will be vital
in facing the problems of religious freedom in this
country. A step has been taken in the right direction —
in averting a practice that was introduced by Richard
M. Nixon for prayers in the White House. Now the


Prayers in the White House as Viewed by Standard
Bearers of Both Political Parties . . . Obligation to
Apply Separation Principle Also to the Schools

By Philip

campaign must be renewed to assure strict adherence those now in mourning over defeat at the hands of the
to the Separation principle. There is no better time to American constituency.
commence such a task than the very day after a Presi-
dential election.
Greater Detroit Jewry

It's All Over . . . Judging the
on the Way to the Southwest
Past, But Not With Venom
Don't believe that the Greater Detroit Jewish
It's all over, the shouting and the rancor. The vot- community is shrinking. New evidence is that it is
ers have given their verdict. In respect to and for the expanding, that religious dinner parties now are being
Presidency, the approaching four years must be vie- shifted to Dearborn, and the established_ synagogues
wed as hewed in unity. Congress may differ, as it often are no longer the restricted locations for public
does with the White House, but the tongue-lashing functions.
may have ended.
This is an interesting development — that an or-
Now the news analysts may pose as the history- ganization sponsoring parochial schools in Oak Park
and Southfield should be holding its annual dinner in
The certainty is that prophecy was a difficult aspi- Dearborn. The caterer will surely be from one of the-
ration in a campaign in which fewer spoke their minds synagogues not selected for the dining and speeches
in advance than the polls indicated.
and it would be blasphemy to say that the Mashgiakh
There were the ethnic and religious questions and no longer needs to be from the Jewish community.
there will be a recurrence of questioning whether
heads of responsible social service and philanthropic
But the hall will be different, the lights may shine
movements have .a right to become partisans politi- more luminously, the speeches could be more
Gerald Ford was criticized when he was portrayed
For some time it has been peculiarly interesting
in an advertisement with a black leader who objected
to the linkage on ethical grounds. He objected to an that certain Orthodox groups will not have their fun-
impression being entertained that he was represent- draising eating parties in the community's estab-
ing blacks favoring a preferred candidate. Ford was lished synagogues (the Conservative where kashrut is
But they will of necessity use the services of
pictured in an advertisement with Israel Prime Minis- observed).
caterers in the very synagogues they shun.
ter Yitzhak Rabin and James E. Carter in a Demo-
cratic ad with Israel Ambassador Simha Dinitz. Many
Is it possible that the fundraising and the sources
didn't like the idea of drawing upon foreign elements of money giving are kasher and the houses of worship
in an American political campaign. These things have and assembly whence the givers come are trefa?
happened before; they will recur.
That's politics. It would be better if the appeals for
votes were not based on religious and ethnic grounds. The 'Fiddler' Caricature,
They have been unavoidable in the past. People like to The Communal Negligence
hear the things they like. Therefore, vote-seeking is
sugarcoated with such aims. as satisfying ego.
Anti-Defamation League of Bnai Brith came into
Fortunately, life is based on realism. The social
needs must be fulfilled, therefore the vanities are usu- existence in 1910 when the caricaturing of Jews on the
ally toned to suit the needs of the majority. America's American stage, as often by Jews, as by non-Jews, was
confronted as a serious problem by our maligned
foreign policy demands alliances that will be geared
for peaceful aspirations as well as defensive conditions community. Soon thereafter ADL shared with the
American Jewish Committee the important duty of
for security.
National needs and social obligations are not on exposing the outrageous occurrence in Georgia where
the bargain counter. Therefore, regardless of the ap- an innocent Jew (Leo Frank) was lynched by a mob
peals during a political campaign, a nation must have that was instigated by anti-Semitic propaganda. The
confidence that the legislators and the chief executive battle against stage defamations continued for many
will not abandon the citizen. It is in this spirit that the years, and, fortunately, the need for such actions de-
clined drastically.
aftermath of an important campaign must be judged.
The American Capitol
But the caricaturing has gone on for the most
recent 10 years in a play that has had outstanding
on Emissary's Head
successes on the American stage and has had similar
Simha Dinitz may be as delighted with the consum- acclaim in many lands where the production has been
mation of the American Presidential election as the shown both in English and in other languages. "Fid-
millions of voters in this country who are fed up with dler on the Roof" owes most of its triumphs to its origin
the rhetoric that had begun to sicken the country. Now
as a Sholem Aleichem theme.
the country gets down to business and so will he. He is
But from the very beginni the "Fiddler" as in-
soon to be replaced by a
yet-to-be-named succes- terpreted by the American producers has retained a
sor. When he leaves the nasty characterization of a rabbi. He is shown idioti-
coveted and cherished cally, his portrayal has met with resentment from the
Washington residence he very beginning, yet there has been no action to erase
will have lots -Co relate that bulvan, that idiot.
from diary and memoirs.
In the current repeat performances of the play, in
In all instances like his
Detroit, as well as in other cities, people are heard
there is a book to be pro- laughing when that idiot is introduced. They laugh
duced to be added to the . . . and laugh . . . and those who laugh do not realize,
thousands of volumes if they are Jews who laugh, that they laugh at them-
whose printing would be selves.
justified if people were to
But where is ADL and American Jewish Commit-
read them.
tee and American Jewish Congress and local commit-
tees — and enraged individuals! — who fail to act to
If there will be memoirs in a volume by Israel Am- put an end to this insult to the Jewish communities?
bassador to the United States Simha Dinitz it will This repulsive character can be removed from the play
merit as a photo on the jacket the photo from the without affecting it in the least. Why the silence on the
Jerusalem Post that also accompanies this brevity in a part of a community that gets excited every time a
comment that could deal more extensively with the politician or a news commentator utters a questiona-
manner of politicians who squeeze Dinitz in with Car- ble word about Jews? The complacency on the score of
ter while Ford accommodates with Rabin. Glory with- the besmirching of the Sholem Aleichem theme in
out limit to the politicians, those seeking rulership and "Fiddler" is deplorable.

The Great American System . . . The Humble People

What an historic day and what a remarkable system for a humble people with a sense of dignity and fair
November 2, 1976, has been written into our history with the passionate pursuance of a noble principle that
permits difference of opinion, and when the majority has ruled there is acceptance that elevates a people with
dignity into the great role of cooperative humaness.
The great American system is unmatched for democratic strength. A man hailing from a virtual village of
645 residents, whose emergence from Plains, Georgia, only a few months ago was greeted with a "Jimmy Who?"
wonderment is now President James Earl CarterJunior of the United States of America as of January 20, 1977.
And the man he defeated, the present President, Gerald R. Ford of the USA, received nearly as many votes
in a crucial campaign. The day after the election We the People of the United States are good sports, as ready for
fair play in a tight election as Jerry Ford was as center for the University of Michigan football team when a
game was lost.
That's the Fair Play System we glory in on the day after the election, dedicated once again to the great
principles that unite us into a great nation.
Now all hopes are for the blessings of the System of Fair Play to lead the President-Elect into fulfillment of
America's highest ideals. Towards this end America awaits the continuity of dignity under new leadership in
the years ahead.

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