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April 29, 1977 - Image 15

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1977-04-29

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

Friday, April 29, 1977 15

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Shaky Ground

Schocken Book Guides Parents
`When Children Ask About God'

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By ALAN HITSKY
Harold S. Kushner, in his
new paperback. When Chil-
dren Ask About God - (Scho-
cken Books), combines
Judaism and child psycholo-
gy in a simple, 176-page
book that is frankly aimed
at the parent, not the child.
Rabbi Kushner, a gradu-
ate of the Jewish Theologi-
cal Seminary of America.
asks at the outset, "What
can a modern adult believe
about God in his own mind,
before he tries to convey
his belief to his child?"
His aim is to make each
adult think through his own
religious beliefs—and the
standard phrases and termi-
nology which may. in fact.
give a false meaning—be-
fore a child asks a question.
Rabbi Kushner warns,
"Our task during (a child's
early) years will be partly
to compromise with their
limitations and withhold an-
swers until the children are
ready for them and partly
to introduce them to the ab-
stract idea of God as a
Power that makes things
possible in the most con-
crete terms we can—such
as the growth of a flower,
the healing of a bruise, the
'smiling inside' feeling of
gratitude or self-satisfac-
tion.
"Above all, never let us
be afraid to say to our chil-
dren: That is a very diffi-
cult question. People have
been trying to answer it for
a long time, and they are
not sure they know all the
answers there are for it.
Let me try to answer it as
best as I can, but you prob-
ably won't understand it all
until you're older.' "
At about the age of 10,
Rabbi Kushner says, a
child begins to outgrow his
childish conception of God
as a su?erperson, and begin
to thin; in terms of right
and wrong.
At this point a parent's an-
swers take on more mean- .
ing as the child will try to
sort through the theological
baggage that he has ac-
cumulated over several
years of asking questions
and hearing stories. At this

point he is' aware of con-
tradictions and impossibi-
lities.
Major topics of discussion
in the book include "Don't
Blame God for 'Acts of
God' "God and the
Bible," the Vocabulary of
Religion," and "Some Af-
firmative Ways of Meeting
God."
Rabbi Kushner discusses
in plain language the ways
to answer the science vs.
Bible controversy, why God
"makes bad people, - "For
What Can We Pray'? - and
numerous other topics. For
example:
A little girl falls and
skins her knee after dis-
obeying her mother's warn-
ing not to stray too far. The
mother says, "God is pun-
ishing you for not listening
to your mother. - And
Rabbi Kushner asks if we
really believe—or do we
want our children to be-
lieve—in a God who has
nothing better to do than
trip a little girl on the play-
ground?
The rabbi discusses
death. the "miraculous"
safety of one or another
when others are harmed,
and other - acts of God"
and puts them in the proper
perspective of natural
causes and chance. He
gives a more realistic reli-
gious viewpoint to these phe-
nomena and a healthier out-
look.
Simply written with a
marked clarity, "When Chil-
dren Ask About God" is
truly for the adult reader.
In Rabbi Kushner's
words, "I have tried to con-
vey a reasonable, essen-

tially humanistic under-
standing of what God can
mean to us, within the
framework of the Jewish
tradition—an understanding
which can command both in-
tellectual respect and pro-
found moral commitment.
"I have tried to explain
how this idea of God can be
communicated to children
at various stages of their
spiritual development."

BURGLAR
ALARMS

REHOVOT (ZINS)—Is-
rael has not had an earth-
quake in recent decades but
an area in the Jordan River
Valley is subject to earth-
quakes (dating back to one
that struck Sodom and Go-
morrah 4,000 years ago).
Prof. Ari Ben-Menachem
of the Weizmann Institute
says Israel does not have
quake warning capabilities,
but historically a white
foam covers the surface of
the Dead Sea prior to an
earthquake.

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Rostow is Dean

NEW YORK—The new
dean of the Lyndon Baines
Johnson School of Public Af-
fairs at the University of
Texas will be Elspeth Ros-
tow, wife of Walt W. Ros-
tow, who was President
Johnson's national security
adviser. Rostow is also at
U-T as a professor of eco-
nomics and history.

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U.S., Canada, Israel Justices
Honored by Yeshiva University

N E W YORK—Three
Chief Justices of Supreme
Courts, in the U.S., Canada
and Israel, will be awarded
honorary degrees at a con-
vocation and dinner being
held by Yeshiva University
in New York City in honor
of the inauguration of its
new president, Dr. Norman
Lamm, May 1.
Jack D. Weiler, chair-
._ man, said the Doctor of
Laws degree will be -con-
ferred upon Warren E. Bur-
ger, Chief Justice, U.S. Su-
preme Court; Bora Laskin,
Chief Justice, Supreme
Court of Canada; and Joel
Sussman, Chief Justice, Su-
preme - Court of Israel.
Burger was appointed
Chief Justice of the U.S. Su-
preme Court in 1969. A grad-
uate of Mitchell College
Law School, 1931, he was
Assistant Attorney General
of the U.S., on the U.S.
Court of Appeals, Washing-
ton, a faculty member of
Mitchell College, and in pri-
vate practice.

Laskin, a native of On-
tario, was appointed to the
Supreme Court of Ontario,
Court of Appeals, in 1965.
He was named to the Su-
preme Court of Canada in
1970 and became Chief Jus-
tice in 1973. A graduate of
the University of Toronto
and Harvard University
Law School, he also taught
at the University of To-
ronto.
Sussman has been a
judge of the Israeli Su-
preme Court since 1953.
Born in Poland and edu-
cated at Frankfurt, Heidel-
berg and Berlin Univer-
sities, and at Cambridge in
England, his career has in-
cluded chairmanship of the
Central Electoral Com-
mittee of the Fourth Knes-
set in Israel, 1959. He was
military prosecutor for the
Israeli Defense Forces in
1949 and in 1975 received
the Israel Prize in Law. Jus-
tice Sussman is the author
of a number of books and
has written extensively for
scholarly publications.

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