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December 15, 1978 - Image 2

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1978-12-15

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119 frITP 11

MiIr '1!-:!1.'f i rti

2 Friday, December 15, 1918

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Purely Commentary

Masada Not to be Equated
With Horrors of Cultism;
Eleazar Speech in Evidence

Masada came to mind for many, not abnormally, when
the horrors of the Jones cult and the mass murder in
Guyana began to dominate the news.
No one equated Masada with the terrible massacre that
resulted from the sick mind of the creator of a cult. In every
instance when there was a reference to Masada there was
the indication that Masada was a rejection of slavery, that
the 960 who died on that impregnable mount refused to be
taken prisoner and eventually to be enslaved, possible
tortured, by the Romans; that they chose death rather than
slavery.
Josephus Flavius, the historian of that period, provided
the facts about Masada. He retained for generations to
come the text of the address of Eleazar Ben-Yair to those
who resorted to suicide rather than be captured by the
Romans whose attacks they resisted heroically.
Eleazar was the spokesman for the valiant defenders of
the fortress which ceased being impregnable when the Ro-
mans reached the top of the mountain. Josephus preserved
his. words to his followers when he defined freedom as al
rejection of slavery.
Thus spoke Eleazar:
My loyal followers, long ago we resolved to
serve neither the Romans nor anyone else but
God, who alone is the true and righteous Lord of
men; now the time has come that bids us prove our
determination by our deeds. At such a time we
must not disgrace ourselves: hitherto we have
never submitted to slavery, even when it brought
no danger with it. We must not choose slavery
now, and with it penalties that will mean the end
of everything if we fall alive into the hands of the
Romans.
For we were the first of all to revolt, and shall be
the last to break off the struggle. And I think it is
God who has given us this privilege, that we can
die nobly and as freemen, unlike others who were
unexpectedly defeated.
In our case it is evident that daybreak will end
our resistance, but we are free to choose an hon-
orable death with our loved ones. This our
enemies cannot prevent, however earnestly they
may pray to take us alive; nor can we defeat them
in battle.
From the very first when we were bent on claim-
ing our freedom but suffered such constant mis-
ery at each other's hands and worse at the
enemy's, we ought perhaps to have read the mind
of God and realized that His once beloved Jewish
race had been sentenced to extinction. For if He
had remained gracious or only slightly indignant
with us, He would not have shut His eyes to the
destruction of so many thousands or allowed His
most holy city to be burnt to the ground by our
enemies.
We hoped, or so it would seem, that of all the
Jewish race we alone would come through safe,
still in'possession of our freedom, as if we had
committed no sin against God and taken part in
no crime — we who had taught the others! Now
see how He shows the folly of our hopes, plunging
us into miseries more terrible than any we had
dreamt of.
Not even the impregnability of our fortress has
sufficed to save us, but though we have food in
abundance, ample supplies of arms, and more
than enough of every other requisite, God Himself
without a doubt has taken away all hope of survi-
val. The fire that was being carried into the enemy
lines did not turn back of its own accord towards
the wall we had built; these things are God's ven-
geance for the many wrongs that in our madness
we dared to do to our own countrymen.
For those wrongs let us pay the penalty not to
our bitterest enemies, the Romans, but to God—
by our own hands. It will be easier to bear.
Let our wives die unabused, our children with-
out knowledge of slavery. After that, let us do
each other an ungrudging kindness, preserving
our freedom as a glorious winding-sheet.
But first let our possessions and the whole for-
tress go up in flames; it will be a bitter blow to the
Romans, that I know, to find our persons beyond
their reach and nothing left for them to loot.
One thing only let us spare — our store of food.
It will bear witness when we are dead to the fact
that we perished, not through want but because,
as we resolved at the beginning, we chose death
rather than slavery.

Masada as the Symbol of Jewish Resistance to ,
Tyranny, Determination to Defy Dangers Leading
to Slavery . . . The Historic Speech by Eleazar

generation which, prior to the 1967 Six-Day War, pro-
claimed: "Shenit Matzada lo tipol — Masada shall not
fall a second time." This is the spirit of a free people. That is
why Masada is not to be equated with the depravity that
has just occurred in Guyana.

Himelhoch Merchandising
Achievement Turns Into Legend

An interesting chapter in merchandising, one of Detroit's
most significant, is coming to an end. One Himelhoch store
is closing and the famous name is turning into a legend.
An important story attaches to the name Himelhoch.
The store, originally located in a two-story building
where J.L. Hudson Co. is on Woodward Avenue, was
founded in 1903. Then it moved into what became a famous
address for Himelhoch — starting in 1923 — at 1545
Woodward.
Wolf Himelhoch was the store's founder. Three sons were
in the business, Herman, Moses and Zella. The fourth son,
Israel, had gone off to study law at Harvard and to practice
in New York. He returned to take charge of the business for
some three decades and the flourishing results were linked
with the significant communal services of Israel
Himelhoch.
The story really begins with Wolf Himelhoch. When he
started the great merchandising venture, specializing in
women's wear, the store was closed on Saturdays. The
owner was a religiously observant member of Temble Beth
El. The changes in observance affected many other mercan-
tile accomplishments and the abandonment of Sabbath ob-
servance was not a surprise.
Israel Himelhoch's leadership merits special recalling.
He was president of Temple Beth El during five crucial
depression years. He was an active leader in Allied Jewish
Campaigns. He devoted himself to AJCampaign public re-
lations as chairman of a committee that included this
writer, the late Jake Albert, the late Philip Adler and
several others who were prominent at the time in the news-
paper field here.
The demise of Himelhoch's undoubtedly is part of the
changing times which have victimized many projects. The
reminiscences are about the earlier generation for whom

By Philip
Slomovitz

adherence to religious duties was a major part of the
privilege of freedom in America. The changes_ are not
necessarily grist in the mills operated by Jews. There was a
time of Blue Sundays when for a store to be open on a
Sunday was to invite a jail sentence. Now the most impor-
tant stores, food markets and clothiers' establishments,
J.L. Hudson and others included, are open on Sundays and
holidays. That's how it has gone for all faiths — that the
most cherished religiously are not the duty of many. Per-
haps this is as saddening as the knowledge that a great
merchandising establishment like Himelhoch's is disap-
pearing.

Spain and the Testing
of. Erasing the Past

Echoes of an anxiety in Spain to "erase the past" poses
many question relating to another past.
At present the desire is to remove the stains of a Franco
regime. In an earlier age there was much more to atone for.
The Inquisition is an unforgettable era. Can it be erased,
could its terrors be forgotten, is there a complete forgive-
ness?
For generations, after the inquisitorial horrors, there
were vows that Jews would never return to Spain. But in
the past half-century there was a minimal "return." A
synagogue functions in Madrid, with the government's
blessings.
There are now 11,000 Jews in Spain. In view of what had
occurred, and the herem, the excommunicative spirit in
Jewish ranks towards the Spain of the time of the Inquisi-
tion, this is an incredibly large number.
Now the question arises how Jews could have returned to
Germany, whether a herem on where the Nazis ruled could
be considered more tolerable for Jews. There are about
25,000 Jews in Germany. Many returned to subsist on
pensions. There are very few young people, there are few
births and therefore also few Bnai Mitzva.,
Equally tragic is the agony of Polish Jewry. Of the more
than 3,000,000 who lived in the land of the new Pope, there
are fewer than 7,000 Jews left in Poland, all old people.
Such is the tragedy of the ages. It is never erased, it
cannot be forgotten, how can the horrors be forgiven?

Guide Discusses Religion in Public Schools

NEW YORK — The tent that such display is a prived of makeup oppor- ticipating in religious ob-
American Jewish Congress necessary or integral part of tunities for religious ab- servances contrary to his
has published two docu- the study of some subject in sences "or pressured to belief or of standing exposed
ments — both calling for the curriculum: eg., art, his- choose • between school as odd and non-conformist,"
public schools to be "reli- tory, etc., and with no intent attendance and religious the American Jewish Con-
asserts, adding:
giously neutral" — which to indoctrinate. observance," the Massachu- gress report
"Easter programs in the
• The presentation of setts guidelines declare.
illustrate what can be
achieved to help eradicate religious music, except to Both the Long Island and public schools present an
sectarian activities in the the extent that such music Massachusetts guidelines even more serious problem
is presented for its musical stress the responsibility of to the Jewish child.
public schools.
"It is frequently said
The first, "Suggested content only, rather than as the public schools to teach that the most important
brotherhood
and
respect
for
a
devotional
exercise.
Guidelines for the Public
The guidelines also take all individuals and all be- single cause for anti-
Schools Concerning Reli-
Semitism has been the
the
position that "the sub- liefs.
gious Holidays," was formu-
Christian charge of
In
the
words
of
the
Long
lated by the Long Island In- stitution of the 'winter sea-
.deicide against the Jew.
guidelines:
terfaith Council, consisting son' celebration for a reli- Island
"Teaching in the public If there is one place
of Protestant, Catholic and gious observance is a profa- schools may take cogni- where this dogma should
nation and secularization of
Jewish representatives.
zance of the fact that reli- not be repeated or rein-
According to those what truly is a period of gious holidays are ob- forced in any form, it is
religious
significance
for
guidelines, "the celebration
served differently by surely the public school."
of religious holidays in the Christians and Jews."
The American Jewish
different religious
The
second
document,
public schools has often
Congress
added, "It is
groups.
Such
teaching,
if
been the source of fretful ir- "Guidelines for the Public
appropriate for Jewish
ritation among major reli- Schools Concerning Reli- presented, should be fac- communities to review the
gious groups, creating need- gious Holidays," was issued tual and not devotional, situation in the public
less religious offense. by the Massachusetts De- and avoid any doctrinal schools which their children
impact or any implica-
Rather than promote inter- 'partment of Education.
While the importance tion that religious doc- attend and to take appro-
faith understanding, these
priate action where they
celebrations have fre- of religion in history, cul- trines on which such find that an unacceptable
ture
and
the
arts
"should
holidays
are
based
have
quently brought about divi-
have a place in educa- the support of state situation exists."
sive religious tensions.
For copies of "Religious
"The public school tion," the Massachusetts authority."
The American Jewish Holiday Observance in Pr'
guidelines
declare,
the
should be religiously
what is Congress "Guide for Corn- lic Schools: A Guide
neutral. By this is meant definition of rests
on munity Action" which in- Community Action," write
appropriate
not only that the school
whether
the
purpose
or cludes both documents as- Nathan Z. Dershowitz, the
should show no prefer-
serts that while religion in American Jewish Congress,
ence for one religion over effect of such practices is the home, church and 15 E. 84th St., New York
the
advancement
of
reli-
another but also that it
synagogue "serves incom- 10028.
should refrain from the gion.
Under these guidelines, parably to enoble the spirit
promotion of any and all
Parkway Honors
religions. Consequently, music having significance of mankind," religion in the
for
a
particular
religion
public
schools
"serves
only
Late Humphrey
no religious holiday cele-
brations should be held (such as Christmas carols) to harass, hurt and dislocate
NEW YORK — A delega-
would not be performed in children of minority faiths
in the public schools."
school
during
the
holiday
and
to
impair
wholesome
tion
of communal leaders
The guidelines define
and supporters of the
classroom
relationships."
period.
"religious celebration" as:
During festivities and Jewish National Fund of
The possible effects of
• A worship or religious .
celebrations
which take up America from all parts of
service of any kind, regard:- religious holidays on a major part of the school the nation will be in Israel
attendance
should
be
con-
In a war with Rome, a few fighting the mighty, the less of whether or not con-
sidered in planning school- program during December, Jan. 5 for the dedication of
response was as courageous as the words of the leader. ducted by a clergyman.
year
calendars, and no stu- "the Jewish child is left with the Hubert H. Humphrey
Religious
exhibits
or

Slavery was unacceptable.
dent
be penalized or de- the cruel choice of par- Parkway.
Now the message of Masada is a clarion call to a new displays, except to the ex-

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