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June 22, 1979 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1979-06-22

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2 Friday, June 22, 1919


Purely Commentary

Could a Million Jews Have
Been Rescued Had Jewish
Leadership Been Visionary?

Marvin Tokayer, one-time rabbi, now an author with a
message, came here to enlighten large audiences on an
historic Japanese occurrence and he emerged a challenger.
He had messages for several radio and television audi-
ences and will be quoted in interviews by newspaper re-
porters primarily in relation to an interesting book
which is beginning to gain best seller status under the
mysterious title of "Fugu." The complete title of his book is
"The Fugu Plan." It was published by Paddington Press
and the review of the book appears elsewhere in this issue.
The term Fugu is given this definition:
"The deadly blowfish of
Japan, 200,000 more lethal
than strychnine — and yet
when expertly prepared the
most tantalizing of gourmet
Tokayer (whose book was
co-authored with Mary
Swartz) revives an occur-
rence which has been both
forgotten and ignored. It is
documented and substan-
tiated in all of Tokayer's ac-
counts and therefore cannot
be erased from history. It re-
lates to a decision by the Japanese pre-war cabinet, reached
on Dec., 5, 1938, providing for the establishment of an open
door policy - for refugees from Nazi Germany.
Had this decision been given proper acceptance "The
Fugu Plan" author maintains, a million Jews could have
been rescued.
He concedes that under war conditions the plan would
have been abandoned, that the threats that accompanied
the emerging Japanese warring patterns would have in-
creased the suspicions that related to everything that ema-
nated from Japan.
What, therefore, is the lesson provided by "The Vugu
Tokayer makes a serious charge. He maintains that
the Japanese plan was treated with derision because Ja-
pan's word was not trusted. But he also maintains that
Jewish leaders were "duped" in the same manner as they
were "duped" by American and British statesmen when it
was necessary to protest the Nazi crimes.
Because "The Fugu Plan" dated prior to Auschwitz,
Tokayer believes it failed to receive the attention it should
have been given.
The challenge attributable to the Tokayer revelations
may be applicable to current situations. It calls for probing
into the courage or the lack of it when it becomes necessary
for Jewish leaders to speak out, in defense of or in protest
against emerging situations, those affecting neo-Nazism
and those related to the peace negotiations in the Middle
The Tokayer story retraces history. He pays glorious
tribute to the activities of the religious movement for the
relief and rescue of German Jews under the direction of the
Vaad HaHatzala. He makes a point of an interesting fact—
that the only Yeshiva saved intact was the Mirer Yeshiva,
all of whose 280 students were, because Japan was coopera-
tive, brought to Kobe, Japan. They went to Shanghai when
the war threat became imminent, and from there they
moved on to Brooklyn, N.Y.
Because Japan became a threat, the Tokayer claim
may be negated in great measure. Nevertheless his chal-
lenge to leaders who permit themselves to be "duped"
stands out bluntly. Since the question is now posed and is
being repeated, "Why wasn't Auschwitz bombed by the
Allies?" and similar challenging queries, the Tokayer reve-
lation cannot be ignored.
The author of "The Fugu Plan" mastered Japanese and
wrote a dozen books in that language, including one on the
Talmud. He is going on aliya to Israel and will be working
on a book on the Jews in Far Eastern countries. He de-
served encouragement in this undertaking.

Indestructibility of the Jews: Sydney Harris' Truism
and the More Positive Factor in Jewish Existence ... U.S.
Delegation Confirms Israel's Right to Settlements

American Jewish Leaders
and Settlements Issue

State Department spokesmen also go to Israel to study
the settlements issue and they return with condemnations.
In contrast, an American Jewish delegation, headed by
Theodore Mann, head of the Conference of Presidents of
Major Jewish Organizations, has endorsed the policies of
the government presided over by Menahem Begin.
There is much to be studied in this developing conflict.
U.S. government spokesmen believe they will be appeasing
Anwar Sadat as well as the Arab states that are aligned
against the Egyptian president by being critical of Israel.
Israelis, on the other hand, must adhere to a policy of
self-protection. Even the former Israel Prime Minister,
Yitzhak Rabin, while assailing his political opponent
Menahem Begin, conceded that settlements in Judea and
Samaria are a necessity for Israel. Theodore Mann and his
associates would have yielded to pressures intended to
panic Israelis and their supporters had they acted other
than in support of the right of the Begin government to
pursue means of assuring a defensive position for Israel.

More Than Persecution Needed
for Jewish People to Survive

Sydney Harris added to his popularity as a
philosophically-oriented columnist with his comments on
persecution as a survivalist factor in Jewish existence.
It is among the very interesting essays by the noted
analyst of human factors and it is especially expressive as
an admonition to non-Jews who hate Jews that if they seek
the destruction of the Jewish people they can go farther to
encourage assimilation and abandonment of Jewish loyal-
ties with honey rather than with hatred.
Harris' views are interesting enough for quotation:
What has kept the Jewish people alive through-
out the centuries has-been the awesome paradox
of persecution. Left alone to live their lives and
practice their beliefs, they inevitably tend to
dwindle in numbers to disperse and dilute their
ethnic identification.
Then, every so often in history there comes
along a devastating persecution that has the very
opposite effect of its intention. It militates and
mobilizes these people, reminds them of their
unique heritage that is regarded as both a bless-
ing and a burden, and re-animates their faith and
their sense of identity.
This is what Gabriel Marcel long ago termed
"the mystery of Israel" — its flaccidity in times of
tolerance and its fervor when challenged by
bigotry. If the anti-Semites had any sense (which,
by definition, they lack), they would conceive a
long-term program to -diminish or eliminate
Jewry by the very opposite tactics they normally
adopt — by making it as easy as possible for Jews
to forget their Jewishness, and eventually blend-
ing into the native landscape.
This had nearly happened in Germany before
the rise of Hitler, where the Jews imagined they
had been "amalgamated" in the Teutonic cul-

By Philip

ture, and even men like Sigmund Freud defended
the Fatherland in the first World War. Many of
them looked with scorn upon their co-religionists
who emigrated to Germany from Eastern Europe,
and felt they were the "troublemakers" who
fomented anti-Semitic feelings.
But as Nazism burst into full bloom German
Jews were soon disabused of this notion, recog-
nizing that no amount of personal patriotism
could erase the age-old stigma. And this was the
great impetus for political Zionism, which had
faltered weakly until then.
What a tragic irony that the people who hate
Jews solidify them and keep them going, wr
tolerance and assimilation threaten to redl..
their ranks to a negligible proportion of the
world's population.
Hitler held the "final solution" by the wrong
end of the stick — not persecution, or liquidation,
will ever accomplish what he wanted, but the
shrug of indifference seems to be the fatal weapon
against this unique people.
What Sydney Harris has said represents an old truism.
That's how Jews have been lured into conversion, mixed
marriages, assimilation, atheism and agnosticism.
There is another side to the story. Jews could not have
survived if they did not have the great heritage embodied in
the ethical teachings that have been embraced by all man-
Ahad HaAm, the eminent philosopher, may have best
described it when he wrote:

More than Israel preserved the Sabbath, the
Sabbath preserved Israel."

It is by adherence to basic ideals taught in Judaism,
the loyalties To the legacies that have elevated Jewish
humanism to the highest rungs of concern for man's basic
rights, that have made Jewry, Israel, indestructible.
The Torah element in survivalism must not be taken
for granted. As the Psalmist proclaimed it is "%tree of life,"
and this it has been as an enrichment for the Jew.
There are other reasons for the survival. Three basic
loyalties have been attributed to it: observance of the Sab-
bath as a day of rest and as a lesson for mankind against
submission to slavery, observance of kashrut regulations
and the love of Zion imbedded in the hopesfor and the belief
in the redemption of Israel. Who will challenge these truths
while observing how these truths have become undeniable
in the ranks of the loyalists? Perhaps it is a small minority
that holds fast to the three basic reasons for Jewish survi-
val. But this remnant has always defied indifference,
mixed marriages, desecration of the Sabbath, abandon-
ment of the dietary laws and unresponsiveness to Israel.
Sydney Harris judged conditions properly. Yet, Jewish
communities have vanished under oppression, resulting
from inhumanities under Islam and Christianity as well as
when victimized under Comminism. Otherwise Jew.
might have numbered in the hundreds of millions rather
than the 18,000,000 before Hitlerism and 14,000,000 now.
But the indestructibility continues as a spiritual factor,
even if it is for a minority. There is truism in what Sydney
Harris wrote: there is realism in the fact of life of the
spiritual force that is Judaism and Israel.

Reconstructionists OK Conversion Guide


(Copyright 1979, JTA, Inc.)

The Reconstructionist
Rabbinical Association has
approved a formal set of
guidelines on conversion
following debate during the
last three annual conven-
tions of the association.
The guidelines represent
"the consensus" of the Re-
constructionist rabbis and
are not considered as bind-
The fact that the conver-
sion guidelines are not
Appropriate Synagogue
mandatory for Reconstruc-
tionist rabbis also was
Tribute to Nate Goldstick
by Rabbi Ludwig
It is most appropriate that Nate Goldstick should be stressed
Nadelmann, executive vice
honored at a Sabbath service, and Judge Nathan Kaufman
president of the Jewish Re-
merits thanks for having organized it.
In the honor to be accorded Nate Goldstick at the constructionist Foundation.
Downtown Synagogue Saturday, the emphasis will be on He said the guidelines "af-
the Goldstick role in the Detroit city government, his firmed and refined" existing
interest in the Jewish community and his leadership in conversion practices among
notable projects. He is recognized for his wit, the courage Reconstructionist rabbis.
with which he confronted Detroit's many problems when he He added that he estimated
that around 100 non-Jews
served as city attorney.
The heartening fact is that Nate Goldstick is not for- were converted annually to
gotten. Those who remember give validity to the human Judaism under Reconstruc-
tionist auspices, stressing

that the figure was no more
than an estimate.
The guidelines de-
clared that the rabbis felt
it was "the responsibility
of Jewish congregations
and of the community at
large to welcome into
their midst, and involve
in all their activities, per-
sons who have converted
to Judaism." Many con-
verts have complained of
being rejected by born
The Reconstructionist
rabbis agreed that marriage
to a Jew was "a justifiable
and commendable reason
for conversion," adding that
it must be "evident" that,
after proper instruction and
counseling, the candidate
"freely chooses to become a
Jew." The guidelines de-
clared that "a significant
number of converts,
through marriage, have be-
come truly dedicated Jews."
The guidelines said the
duration of the preparation

of the converts should last
between six months and a
year and include "both
group instruction" and "in-
dividual tutorials and coun-
seling." The candidate
should be encouraged to
attend services and partici-
pate in other areas of
Jewish communal, religious
and cultural life, the
guidelines declared.
The rabbis endorsed
ritual immersion for both
men and women proselytes
and declared that non-
circumcized males should
be circumcized `"if there is
no extraordinary physical
or emotional hazard." Sym-
bolic circumcision of an al-
ready circumcized male is
"at the discretion of the
sponsoring rabbi."
A Beit Din (rabbinical
court), consisting of three
adult Jews, of whom one
should be a rabbi and
with court membership
open to men and women
alike, must examine the


candidate "to elicit from
him/her thoughts and
feelings, to discuss areas
of concern and interest,
offer encouragement and
counsel and reiterate the
responsibilities of in-
volvement with the
Jewish people
A religious cereml
acceptance of Judaism
should be celebrated after
completior of ritual re-
The guidelines declared
that if one parent is Jewish,
either mother or father, the
offspring are to be regarded
as Jewish and should
undergo "the rites
prescribed by our tradition
— Brit Mila for boys or a
convenantal naming cere-
mony for girls — but no spe-
cial conversion procedure is
required" for such children.
All other branches of
Judaism require the mother
to be Jewish for the children
to be considered Jewish.

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