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November 02, 1979 - Image 14

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1979-11-02

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




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14 Friday, November 2, 1979



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Revised. Passion Play Still Anti-Semitic

— Despite a serious effort
by officials of AOberam-
mergau, West Germany to
cleanse the 350-year-old
Passion Play of its anti-
Jewish polemic and prej-
udice, the drama remains
"structurally anti-Semitic."
It continues to malign
Jewish law, to depict the
Judaism of Jesus' time as
corrupt and punitive, and to
dramatize those Gospel
sources which cast the most
negative light on Jewish
motives and actions.
These conclusions emerge
from the latest line-by-line
analysis of the revised 1980
Obermammergau Passion
Play published by the Inter-
religious Affairs Depart-
ment of the American
Jewish Committee. The
findings of the study,
entitled "Oberammergau
1980 — Progress and Prob-
lems," were made public
last Thursday at a meeting
of the AJCommittee's Inter-
religious Affairs Commis-

si on.
"Our systematic study
of the 1980 text finds that
a number of significant
passages, scenes, and
language changes have
been made which corre-
spond in detail to the
findings of the German-
language analysis which
AJC delegations submit-
ted to the Oberammergau
Town Council and dis-
cussed with them during
our four meetings in 1977,
1978 and 1979. The re-
moval of these anti-
Jewish passages are to be
"Nevertheless, the over-
riding conclusion of our
latest study is: 'As it stands,
the drama retains an anti-
Jewish impact despite the
well-intentioned efforts of
those who have revised it.' "
Unfortunately, the study
continues, "These well-
meaning modifications are
undermined by the drama
itself:for the way in which
the story unfolds and de-
velops h not been basi-
cally altered. . . . Thus, the

Jewish religious leaders of
the time are all lumped to-
gether as hateful enemies of
Jesus who cynically manip-
ulate the populace into a
screaming mob, and who
hound Jesus to the cross and
derive joyful satisfaction
from his condemnation and
suffering. The merchants,
though their importance
has been dimished (in this
text), still play their non-
Biblical role.
"Pilate is still portrayed
as a sympathetic weakling,
forced into condemning
Jesus by the cruel Jews
against his will. Jewish law
is still depicted falsely as
harsh and punitive. The
Jewish people still call
down the blood curse upon
themselves and their chil-
"In short, revision of
the Oberammergau
drama has taken the form
of substantial cutting,
but not of essential re-
thinking. The traditional
anti-Jewish polemic
which shaped the origi-
nal text has not been

examined, nor have the
insights of current bibli-
cal and extra-biblical
scholarship been incor-
porated into the
dynamics of the play."
Tanenbaum reported that
"significantly, a leading
Catholic priest-scholar in
Germany, Father Wilm
Sanders of Hamburg, who is
a member of the Ecumen
cal Study Commission of the
German Catholic Bishops
Conference and German
Coordinator for the
Societies for Christian-
Jewish Relations, has com-
pleted his own study of the
1980 revised text, and his
conclusions coincide with
those of the American
Jewish Committee study.
Tanenbaum announced
that the AJCommittee
study was being published
in German by the Bavarian
Catholic Academy in
Munich and would be dis-
tributed to the German and
international press as well
as to tourists who will be
attending the 1980 per-

Appearance of New Elie Wiesel
Books Mark Lecture on Tuesday

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Two new volumes by Elie
Wiesel are coming off the
press this week simultane-
ous with the eminent
authority's lecture here
next Tuesday evening at the
Education Center of
Lubavitch (the Labor
Zionist Institute)
Weisel will speak on be-
half of Lubavitch to an in-
vited audience of 200 com-
munal leaders. Irving
Laker will chair the eve-
Weisel, chairman of the
President's Commission on
the Holocaust, has pub-
lished more than 17 books
and novels on Jewish mysti-
cism, Judaism and the
He is a member of the
boards of Oxford Centre
for Postgraduate He-
brew Studies, Ben-
Gurion University of the
Negev, Haifa University,
Tel Aviv University,
Bar-Ilan University,
Yeshiva University and
the Hebrew Immigrant
Aid Society.
He is currently Andrew
Mellon Professor in
Humanities at Boston Uni-
Wiesel appeals to the con-
science of mankind in his
revealing works about the
Holocaust and the horrors of
the Hitler era.
His writings protest
against the indignities im-
posed upon the Jew while
depicting the dignity with
which the sufferings were
He raises his voice in
protest against the
threats to Jewish exist-
ence and to the Jewish
He is among the chief in-
terpreters of Hasidism in
his appeals for adherence to
the traditions which are
vital to Jewish existence.
The most noteworthy of


his writings are compiled in
"A Jew Today" (Random
Wiesel's "A Jew Today"
packs into the 200-page
paperback a number of the
most important of the emi-
nent author's essays.
There is a measure of
gloom in some of the con-
cerns evidenced in his es-
says over the state of af-
fairs in Israel and the
Diaspora. Nevertheless,
the faith that is the do-
minant factor in the
Wiesel philosophy is up-
permost in the analyses
of conditions that affect
world Jewry.
A lifetime of experience
as a survivor from the
Buchenwald concentration
camp, as a pleader for jus-
tice for the Jew, as a visitor
in Russia whence he
brought the message of
seekers of justice against
the oppressions suffered
there, Wiesel is the in-
terpreter of conditions af-
fecting Jewry in his ex-
cerpts from his letters and
his role as historian of con-
temporary Jewish life is in-
corporated in these essays.
"A Quest for Jerusalem"
is one of his powerful
analyses of an issue that
needed definition and re-
ceived it from the master in-
When the shocking at-

tack at the UN equated
Zionism with racism,
Wiesel registered the most
powerful condemnation of
the bigotry that emerged
from the anti-Semitic cabal.
That essay provides a refu-
tation of such magnitude
that the Wiesel statement is
among the major articles
written as a condemnation
of bigotry.
Wiesel exposed the un-
friendly attitude of Ale-
xander Solzhenitsyn and
its incorporation in these
essays is a valuable re-
tention of important facts
involving a Russian who
has captured the head-
lines in this country.
His letter to a young
Palestinian Arab is as
timely today as rejection of
His plea against despair
and retention of faith is a
vital declaration serving as
a guide for world Jewry.
In its totality, this Ran-
dom paperback is one of the
very powerful collections
which have made Wiesel
famous as a major interpre-
ter of Jewish traditional
votions as well as the dett....-p)
sive obligations for the pro-
tection of Israel and the just
rights of Jews in Russia.



Wiesel's 'A Beggar
in Jerusalem'

Elie Wiesel's "A Beggar
in Jerusalem," a notable
work describing an experi-
enced visit in Israel, with
emphasis on the situation in
Jerusalem, has been re-
printed as a Simon and
Schuster Pocket Book.
This has emerged as one
of the most recent of the
Wiesel books defining con-
ditions in the dreams of
statehood. Written in the
form of a novel, the major
events of the century are
depicted here.

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