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March 10, 1978 - Image 21

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1978-03-10

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

Friday, Ibrch 10, 1918 21

ME DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Orthodox Group Studying `Jewish Crime'

By BEN GALLOB
Inc.)
(Editor's note: This is
the first in a two-part
series.)
The unprecedented task
of seeking to create, in the
open American society, a
channel and a means for
Jews to combat the upsurge
of Jewish crime — most
notably dramatized by the
convictions of operators of •
New York and New Jersey
nursing homes for fraudu-
lent misuse of Medicaid
funds — is the declared im-
petus for the organization of
a Jewish Ethics Committee.
The first report in an
English-language publica-
tion of the formation, his-
tory and goals of Yosher —
Hebrew for honesty — was
published in the current
issue of "Present Tense,"
the quarterly publication of
the American Jewish
Committee. Yosher and its
organizers are Orthodox.
According to the article,
Yosher was organized in the
spring of 1975 by four Or-
thodox Jews who had be-
come "impatient with the
lack of a significant re-
sponse by the Orthodox
community to revelations of
Jewish wrong-doing."
The four were listed as
Robert Goldman of Dor
Hemschekh, a zionist
group; Rabbi Saul Ber-
man, chairman of the
Jewish studies depart.
ment at Stern College for
Women; Prof. Steven
Donshik, a teacher at the
Wurzweiler social work
school at Yeshiva Uni-
versity; and Perry Davis,
senior special assistant to
the president of the New
York City Board of Edu-
cation.
Davis wrote that the goal
of Yosher was "to develop a
group that would, in the
framework of Halakha, in-
crease the sensitivity and
accountability of the Jewish
community to lapses in
moral conduct and to the
ways in which people treat
one another."

(Copyright 1978, JTA,

Yosher claims more than
200 members; students,
rabbis, professionals and
businessmen in the New.
York area. Yosher has held
two conferences on Jewish
ethics, in Manhattan in
1975 and in Brooklyn in
1976.
"We launched a Jewish
ethics library in the social
work library of Yeshiva
University's Brookdale
center, galvanized opposi-
tion to 'Las Vegas Nights' in
synagogues as a desecration
of places of worship, pub-
licized the problem of in-
flated kosher meat prices,
and issued a halakhic
perspective on the need for
complete honesty in income
tax payments," Davis
wrote.
He added that cur-
rently Yosher and the
New York Metropolitan
Coordinating Council on
Jewish Poverty are con-
ducting a survey of high
kosher food prices.
Davis also reported that
while Yosher had been

"welcomed in many quar-
ters," there have also been
negative reactions. He said
the "most common" criti-
cism was that Yosher "high-
lights embarrassing situa-
tions, such as the fact that
many yeshivot spend little
or no time teaching the rud-
iments of ethical behavior.
Others say Yosher is self-
righteous in its approach to
internal Jewish problems."
He described the common
reaction among Jews to re-
ports of crime involving
Jews: "Jews are not sup-
posed to commit crimes.
When they do, they -make
other Jews liable to guilt by
association. They embolden/
the anti-Semites. They
bring dishonor to the entire
community."
Davis made a point of dif-
ferentiating between
crimes committed by Jews
and Jewish crime. An
example of the former
would be a Jew who com-
mits a holdup, a situation in
which his religion is inci-
dental.
But "Jewish corruption is
a much more serious matter
to the Jewish community"
because the religion of the
suspect is "more than coin-
cidental. The accused is
clearly an ethnic Jew" who
may be a rabbi or layleader.
The crime may involve
a Jewish institution. In
some cases, the religion
of the suspect "actually
serves as a 'cover' for
crime. Often the accused
persons are Orthodox
Jews and some of them
choose to publicize their
Jewishness as a charac-
ter reference."
De, -ring that when the
facts of a Jewish crime come
to light, "fear of anti-
Semitic reaction always de-
velops," Davis wrote that
"beyond this, and more
painful, is the realization
that men once considered
models of uprightness,
many long esteemed and
even revered, have done un-
ethical or criminal deeds.
Then indeed there is not
only anxiety but often an-
guish."
Davis then listed a
number of highly-
publicized cases, most of
them involving Orthodox
Jews and -Orthodox institu-
tions. One, Bnai Torah In-
stitute of Brooklyn, is cur-
rently under three federal
investigations into possible
improper relations with
Congressmen and the U.S.
Labor Department. Last
year, four former Bnai
Torah officials were in-
dicted and convicted on
charges stemming from the
organization's mishandling
of federal funds for summer
food programs.
Davis also cited the nurs-
ing home-Medicaid investi-
gations. trials and convic-
tions of Rabbi Bernard
Bergman and Eugenie 1101-
!ander. cribrindoes that -Ike
issue of nsaral oak anneons
unmeshed and irelland do-
' lemma• paned be Me AN,
Is
called prow frunenens
these canon neelarlista Jane
engaged is fillutpir-eari.

moral acts ---- continues to
confound the Jewish com-
munity."

Davis wrote that "the
collective impact of reve-
lations of Jewish crime
hit the Jewish commun-
ity like a bombshell. In
homes and shops, in
synagogues and on the
streets, people talked
about them, exchanged
the latest rumors, be-
moaned the disgrace.
Some leaders commented
publicly; others kept si -
lent. Some organizations
issued official state-
ments; others avoided in-
volvement."

There was "consterna-
tion" in some quarters of the
Orthodox community, he
reported. Some Orthodox
Jews felt that the media had
dwelt "in lurid detail on the
Orthodoxy of several per-
sons accused of crimes; in
some quarters it was sus-
pected that an attempt to
discredit the entire com-
munity was involved."

The Mizrachi, which
Bergman headed, did not
issue any statements about
the nursing home charges
"though, reportedly, quiet
attempts were made to have
him resign during the hear-
ings." Hasidic and right-
wing Jewish organizations
made no public comments.

We Make Our Own Glasses

thodox Jewish Congrega-
tions published an editorial
in its magazine, "Jewish
Life," declaring that lying
and fraud, "though common
in business life," had "no
place in the Torah world."



HEADQUARTERS FOR
LATEST DOMESTIC

AND
g
ailli‘ IMPORTED FRAME FASHIONS
'..

cipi r

,b.... 1

From their pulpits and in
synagogue bulletins, "some
Orthodox rabbis spoke out
against the nursing home
scandal as a Hillul
Hashem," a desecration of
the Divine Name.



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