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November 18, 1977 - Image 2

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Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1977-11-18

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•<-:

2 Friday, November 18, 1977 THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Purely Commentary

The Bakke Case: the Serious Attempts by 77 National
Organizations to Arrive at a 'Modus Vivendi'...Prophecy
of Doom for American Jewry and Search for the Realities

By Philip
Slomovitz

The Bakke Case: Affirmative
Isn't this true of every principle involving human rights and
to contemplate, not alone for American Jewry, for as the
decencies?
Action and Civil Rights
historian J.L. Talmon recently observed, "...a disaster
For an appreciation of the seriousness of this effort it is
A few decades ago, when the quota system was scrupu-
befalling U.S. Jewry would sound the doom of Israel."
interesting
to note that the 77 organizations that have
The disaster is in the making.
lously adhered to by American universities, especially in
signed this statement include the following 13 Jewish
the medical and dental colleges, the demanding emphasis
movements:
by protesters was that there should be emphasis on merit in
Is Elihu Bergman right? Is he correct in his analyses? Is
American Jewish Committee
admissions.
American Jewry doomed? Can it be saved?
American Jewish Congress
One incident 'stood out. The St. Louis University Medical
This commentator will return to the subject of educa-
Anti-Defamation League of Bnai Brith
College was the target. The late Dr. Morris Fishbein, then
tional shortcomings in a later issue. For the present let
Bnai Brith Women
the editor of the American Medical Journal and secretary
there be a glance at the prediction of doom.
Central Conference of American Rabbis
of the American Medical Association, appealed to the dean
It's difficult to agree fully with what the eminent author-
Jewish Labor Committee
of that college in behalf of Jewish applicants and the merit
ity on population studies has written. The difficulty I'
Labor Zionist Alliance
aspect. He received a reply something to this effect:
the admittedly smug feeling that Jews are indestru t l . _
National Council of Jewish Women
There were some 900 applicants for about 60 available
that
they cannot be erased from the earth, that there is a
National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods
shearit Yisrael, a remnant of Israel, that is certain to sur-
studentships. More than half of the applieants were Jews.
National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council
vive. But the very resort to the phrase shearit Yisrael is
Fishbein pleaded: why not judge applicants on their
Union of American Hebrew Congregations
like a warning of what may occur in an era of Jewish indif-
merits? Replied the Dean: Then we might have to make it
United Synagogue of America
ference, increased intermarriages, assimilation into
an all-Jewish freshman class and that's out of the question.
Workmen's Circle
strange fields and acceptance of strange gods.
In the period referred to the restrictions on Jewish admis-
The issue is far from resolved in the declaration of the
sions to professional schools in universities were admittedly
Indeed, this reader of Bergman's admonitions believes
Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. All of the problems
equated with the numerus clausus that represented anti-
that his warnings are exaggerations, that whatever the out-
in
the
Bakke
Case
must
await
the
Supreme
Court
decision.
Semitism in European countries.
come of an erosion it can not be as drastic as his augury.
Is it to be Affirmative Action in all its aspects and will it
Now there is a return to the debate over merit versus the
But only the blind will fail to see realities. The erosion is
mean the introduction of a Quota System, or will Merit
quota system. It is not called numerus clausus, but the
not
a sham, it is a reality. The decline in Jewish ranks is a
remain a guiding light for the applicants for admission to
menace of a quota system is concerning all Americans and
universities? Unless there will be a way to guarantee jus- menacing factor not to be ignored. The advice given is
the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court on the subject is
practical. Unless the family gains strength, and through it
tice for the meritorious 'another dark age may set in for
awaited with great anxiety.
the school, unless good teachers are assured for whatever
those who may be subjected to a quota system.
Meanwhile, there appears to be a split community of lib-
few youth may remain, the situation could become horri-
erals and conservatives over. the Allan Bakke case, as the
fyingly destructive. One can disagree with Elihu Bergman,
Prophecy of Doom About
issue is now referred to.
but must accept his views seriously. How else will a solu-
Naturally, serious-minded liberals are especially ago-
the Future of American Jewry
tion be found for a grave problem involving survival?
nized by the case. As a result, 77 of the nation's leading
This commentator has warned time and again that the
organizations, representing every religious, civic-pro-
American Jewish communtity is due for a numerical ero-
tective, labor, women's and academic movement, have
sion, that whatever political influence Jews possessed may
joined forces in issuing an important statement regarding
decline drastically because the percentage of Jews to the
the case. Acting under the direction of the Leadership Con-
rest of the population is certain to be cut drastically.
NEW YORK—If the
ference on Civil Rights, the following statement of prin-
new curriculum will help
Time and again this column admonished those who spoke
United Synagogue of Amer-
ciples has been issued in an effort to unite all Americans on
revive
growth of the after-
of a six million figure for American Jewry not to exagger-
ica has its way, the old
the basic needs to assure justice for the underprivileged:
noon Hebrew schools as it
ate,
that
at
best
there
are
between
five
million
and
5.6
mil-
"mile wide and inch deep"
No case in recent years has aroused so much atten-
will offer in-depth study in
lion Jews in this country.
system of afternoon Jewish
tion, interest and emotion as the case of the Regents of
the following four major
But,
whatever
may
be
interpreted
as
prophecy
did
not
education will soon be
the University of California v. Allan Bakke, now before
subject areas:
begin to approach the prediction made in Midstream, the
replaced with a dramati-
the U.S. Supreme Court. Organizations that have long
• Hebrew Language, pre-
magazine published by the Herzl Institute, and therefore
cally different curriculum,
been allied in the fight for civil rights, including the
pared
by Rebekah
has the endorsement of the Zionist movement, about an
one which will be
undersigned, find themselves on opposite sides of the
Mosenkis,
consultant for the
almost zero population figure due for U.S. Jewry in a
introduced for the first time
case. It has been suggested in many quarters that the
Board of Jewish Education
century.
this year in 25 pilot schools
differences among us are evidence of an irreversible
in New York, stresses con-
The gloomy approach is written by Elihu Bergman,
of affiliate congregations
rift that foreshadows the end of the coalition that
versational and reading
assistant.
director
of
the
Harvard
Center
for
Population
after four years
helped bring about the civil rights laws and advances
ability beyond the basic
Studies and long identified with Jewish movements, in an
preparation.
of the past two decades. We reject all such predictions.
"functional vocabulary
article
entitled
"The
American
Jewish
Population
Erosion"
According to an article in
Our differences on the merits as well as on the ulti-
recognition."
(Midstream, October 1977).
the current issue of the
mate impact of the Bakke case are deep and not to be
• Judaism —Sources,
At the very outset, Bergman introduces his note of pes-
Untied Synagogue Review,
minimized. But neither should they be permitted to
compiled
by Dr. Stern,
simism by stating:
quarterly magazine of the
obscure the shared goals that still unite and bind us
author of the article, puts
together.
United Synagogue of Amer-
the emphasis on Bible study
When the United States celebrates its Tricentennial in ica, congregational repre-
Whatever the decision in the Bakke case, we shall
along with selections from
2076,
the
American
Jewish
community
is
likely
to
number
work - together in the future, as we have in the past, to
no more than 944,000 persons, and conceivably as few as sentative of America's 826
Mishna, Gemara, and
10,420.
Conservative congregations,
secure full civil rights for all our citizens and to help
Midrash.
This dramatic decline from a peak Jewish population in the new curiculum repre-
realize thole social and economic conditions in which
- *In the Tefila/Mitzva, Dr.
the United States of nearly six million was already in evi- sents a radical departure
alone the -fulfillment of those rights is possible. We are
Saul
Wachs, dean of Gratz
dence during the Bicentennial. The erosion has two causes:
from conventional ones by
determined to press for government policies and pro-
College, prepared the cur-
an American Jewish birthrate below the replacement level, stressing depth rather than
grams that will establish as a matter of right (1) a job
riculum guide which
which is the level at which the population naturally repl- breadth.
at a living wage for everyone willing and able to work
stresses education in syna-
enishes itself; and an increasing rate of attrition among
Under the proposed cur-
or who can be qualified for work by training; (2) a
gogue rituals while provid-
American Jews, which is the rate at which individuals born
riculum, developed for the
as Jews lose their Jewish identity.
guaranteed income, sufficient for living in dignity, for
ing an understanding of
United Synagogue by four
all those unable to work; (3) a decent home in a decent
prayer and commandments.
An important theme is developed by Bergman who , leading authorities in Jew-
• History — Community
environment for all; (4) education to the limit of each
emphasizes
the
failure
to
give
proper
precedence
to
educa-
ish education, a congrega-
person's ability, and (4) medical care for all in sick-
curriculum was written by
tion in communal planning. He is critical of Jewish lead-
tion may choose one of fOur
ness and in health.
Dr. Morton Siegel, director
ership and the manner in which it is being perpetuated in
areas of concentration and
These goals cannot be achieved by any one group,
of the Department of Ele-
American ranks.
thereby provide students
acting alone or for itself alone. They require a con-
mentary, Secondary, and
What he develops is perhaps the most serious challenge with the opportunity for real
certed, coordinated effort by all who believe in human
Adult
Education of the
yet flung at American Jewry. If the leaders in the organ-
proficiency in that area.
dignity.and equality. We pledge our utmost energies
United Synagogue.
ized
American
Jewish
community
are
not
squirming
over
As the pilot schools begi n
and resources toward such an effort.
objective is to educate
his thesis then there is something wrong with their sense of using the curiculum, Dr
How is the declaration of the Leadership Conference on
pupil,
not in mere "Bible
duty and human responsibility.
Jay B. Stern, superintend
Civil Rights to be judged? The supporters of its declaration
tales,"
but Jewish history
There is a concluding note to the Bergman article which ent of the United Hebrew
include both endorsers of the affirmative action principle
and trends from the patri-
embraces
world
Jewry.
There
is
the
warning
that
continu-
Schools of Metropolita n
and opponents. But they are united on matters involving
archs through the
ity of American Jewish functions in their present garb will Detroit and project coor
provisions for the best in education, housing, all matters of
Holocaust, Israel, and the
mean not only the disappearance of the American Jews but dinator, says that the pro
civil rights for the very people for whom the affirmative
North
American Jewish
may be the death knell for Israel. Here is what he wrote:
gram may not be withou t
action is being advocated as a principle of justice.
community.
In a short time, American Jewry has distinguished itself controversy since it marks
Each synagogue affiliated
How are libertarians to judge the combined statement of
as
one of the most powerful Diasporas in the long sweep of a totally new approach to
with the United Synagogue
77 organizations whose combined ideological and numerical
Jewish history. But the influential role and the historical Hebrew school education.
of America will choose its
strength must be judged as being the All-American Senti-
distinction are destined to be short-lived, because during The Detroit educator
area of concentration
ment? Aren't the principles embodied in their statements
the final quarter of the 20th Century the American Jewish
asserts, however, "what is
according to its orientation.
already so well accepted in American social processes that
community
is
in
decline.
The
decline
is
in
progress
because
at
stake is the very future of
Dr. Stern notes that the
reverting to them becomes repetitious? Aren't the facts so
in its meteoric rise to eminence, American Jewry has the Jewish afternoon school
routinely fused into the human factors of American thinking
curriculum was completed
neglected
to
establish
the
sort
of
roots
that
would
sustain
it
and hence, of Jewish educa-
that they must be taken as an assurance that they cannot
at a "cost far less than its
as a viable community.
tion itself."
be negated, regardless of the bigotries that still oppose
comprehensiveness would
If present trends are not arrested, or reversed, the Amer-
By paring down multiple
them?
seem to warrant" and it is
ican Jewish community faces extinction as a significant curricular demands to cor-
unique
in that it deals with
True: human factors must always be fought for, and the
entity, and by its own hand, during the first half of the 21st respond with time avail-
existing texts rather than
civil rights issues outlined regrettably confront the bigoted.
Century. The consequences of this phenomenon are chilling able, says Dr. Stern. the

,

Conservative Hebrew Schools
will Initiate New Curriculum

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