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February 08, 1980 - Image 23

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1980-02-08

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

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Boris Smolar's

`Between You
• • . and Me'

Editor-in-Chief
Emeritus, JTA
(Copyright 1980, JTA, Inc.)



SUPPRESSING JEWISH IDENTITY: Are Jewish
organizations engaged in protecting Jewish civil and reli-
gious rights strengthening Jewish identity in this country,
or are they suppressing it by their opposition or indif-
ference to having Jews as Jews included in the United
States census?
This question is developing into an issue among
American Jews — especially American-born who wish to
maintain their Jewish identity for themselves and their
children — as the U.S. Census Bureau starts its 1980 de-
cennial count of the population in April. These native Jews
constitute more than two-thirds of the 1,600,000 who went
out of their way to declare in the 1970 census that Yiddish
is their mother tongue, thus making it a point to indicate
indirectly their ethnicity or religious origin despite the fact
that the question of religion is, under pressure from some
Jewish organizations, eliminated from the questionnaire,
and not withstanding the fact that Jews are not included
among minorities and ethnic groups which the census lists
and covers with statistical data.
Many of these Jews are puzzled about the American
Jewish leaders who contradict themselves by talking, on
the one hand, of the need to strengthen Jewish identity in
order to ensure Jewish continuity, while, on the other hand,
they fight against the inclusion of the question of religion
in the U.S. Census Bureau questionnaire knowing well
that Jews in the United States are classified officially as a
religious group only, and under these circumstances can be
identified in the census only by their religious origin.
Many American-born Jews are even more disturbed
over the indifference of Jewish leaders to the fact that Jews
are excluded from the more than 60 ethnic groups in this
country as far as the census is concerned. They resent the
fact of Jews being the only anonymous group in the general
population on whom no statistics are collected by the cen-
sus, as if there were no Jews in the United States. The
dictionary, by the way, defines the word "ethnic" as "relat-
ing to races or large groups of people classed according to
common traits and customs."
TIME TO RETHINK: Years ago, when some influen-
tial American Jewish leaders insisted on the omission of
the question of religion from the U.S. census things were
different in the United States. For those leaders it was not
so much a question involving the problem of the separation
of church and state — the argument which is being ad-
vanced now — but primarily a question of "Americaniza-
tion." These leaders, mostly German-born, laid great stress
on having the masses of Jewish immigrants from East
European countries absorbed in the stream of American
life and culture. They were considered by nationalistic
Jews as "assimilationists" and nicknamed "Yahudim," but
were actually well-meaning personalities seeking to bring
the Jews into the "melting pot" of the American nation and
make them part and parcel of the American people.
The march of time has greatly changed this approach.
The great majority of Jews in this country are not
American-born. They do not need "Americanization." They
believe in ethnic pluralism and not in the "melting pot"
theory. They search for Jewish identity as does the entire
American Jewish community in its anxiety to preserve
Jewish continuity.
In the light of this fundamental change, many ask the
question: Has not the time come for Jewish organizations to
re-think and given up their opposition or indifference to the
identification of Jews as Jews in the population census?

THE MISSING INFORMATION: Jewish demog-
raphers and social scientists are of the opinion that it is
high time for Jewish organizations to revise their negative
attitude toward having Jews counted in the census as Jews.
The 1980 census will bring out the dramatic changes
that have taken place in American life since the last census
in 1970. There will be dabion the changes of family life in
general and among minorities. But data to reflect the deter-
ioration of Jewish family life — which is now one of the
greatest worries of the organized Jewish communities —
will not be there since Jews are not identified as Jews in the
census.

ARE THERE JEWS IN U.S.?: The census will carry
statistics on age, sex, marital status, education and occupa-
tion of various national minorities, but don't look for such
data of Jews. They come as an integral part of the general
population in the census. While the data on the various
nationalities and ethnic groups is very helpful to their
distinct cultural, social and other pluralistic needs, one will
not be able to learn from the census of the specific needs of
the Jewish population, nor the extent to Jewish participa-
tion in the development of the country. Jews are simply-
non-existent as Jews in the census.

AJC Lashes PLO Linkage
to lE.IC Voting Rights Proposal

NEW YORK — The
American Jewish Congress,
asserting that it would con-
tinue to support passage of
the District of Columbia
voting rights amendment,
has criticized the action of
some Maryland legislators
who reportedly asked D.C.
Rep. Walter Fauntroy to
denounce the PLO in return
for their support of the D.C.
measure.
Henry Siegman, execu-
tive director of the Ameri-
can Jewish Congress, said:
"The D.C. voting rights
amendment is supported by
the American Jewish Con-
gress and most other Jewish
community relations organ-
izations because it is neces-
sary to the democratic proc-
ess.
"The deplorable action
of Walter E. Fauntroy in
paying homage to PLO
terrorist chieftain Yasir
Arafat and joining him in
singing 'We Shall Over-
come' does not diminsh
our support for a meas-
ure which we regard as
essential to enfranchise
residents of the District
of Columbia.
The misguided efforts of
certain Maryland legis-
lators to link these two
events are distasteful and
certainly do not reflect the
position taken by the
American Jewish commu-
nity. The D.C. voting rights
amendment should be
passed because of its intrin-
sic merit, not because of
anything Mr. Fauntroy says
or doesn't say about the
PLO.
"When the amendment
passes, Mr. Fauntroy will
have to stand for the office

that is then created. At that
point, voters in the District
will have the opportunity to
evaluate his fitness for
office in terms of his whole
record, including his regret-
table flirtation with the
PLO.
"Each of these two issues
— the D.C. amendment and
the PLO — is important
enough in its own right to
preclude any kind of bar-
gaining or trade-off. For our
own part, we strongly
endorse the D.C. amend-
ment. We strongly oppose
any approaches to the PLO,
including Mr. Fauntroy's."

Friday, February 8, 1980 23 _

Will It Never End?

By Marty Od

It snowed
And someone wrote the word -Jew"
On the trunk of the car,
In the snow, in Big letters.

What did I feel when I saw it?
Anger!! -Why, God? Why the hate?"
Anger!! Because of someone's
Stupidity and ignorance!
Anger!! Can't we ever be let alone
To live in peace?

And I felt pity! Yes, pity for
Someone who probably doesn't even know why they hate.

And I was proud! For someone knew we were Jews!
We let it be known that we are Jews!
And I am Proud to be a Jew!!

SEND THIS.

r

THE B. MANISCHEWITZ COMPANY, P.O. BOX 484A, JERSEY CITY, N.J. 07303

NAME

ADDRESS

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STATE

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ET THIS-FREE!

Israeli Diamond
Leader Honored

RAMAT-GAN — Bar-
Ilan University has pre-
sented an honorary docto-
rate degree to Moshe
Schnitzer, president of the
Israel Diamond Exchange
and the World Federation of
Diamond Bourses.
Schnitzer was honored
"for his achievements in
leading the diamond indus-
try to the forefront of the
world trade, and as repre-
sentative of the 20,000
workers and executives who
have made the diamond
branch Israel's principal
exporter."

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