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May 09, 1980 - Image 21

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1980-05-09

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Friday, May 9, 1980 21

Aliyah Senior Citizens Center Described in Best-Selling Book

NEW YORK — In 1979,
"Number Our Days"
chronicled the work an-
thropologist Barbara
Myerhoff had done with the
Aliyah Senior Citizens Cen-
ter members in Venice,
Calif. Two years earlier, the
film that was based on her
research won the Academy

Award for the best short
Now "Number Our Days"
(Simon and Schuster;
Touchstone) has been is-
sued in paperback.
In a society where old age
is shunned and feared,
"Number Our Days" pro-
vides an inspiring and

courageous portrait of el-
derly people battling daily
to surmount the obstacles of
poverty, failing health, in-
adequate housing and lonel-
iness. In researching her
book, Myerhoff saw the cen-
ter members as a group of
very old people who would
soon disappear and with

ORT Looks to Its Next Century


Editor Emeritus
Seven Arts Features

Who would have believed
t#9"1',.n 1880 that initiation of a
:-....-'movement by five Jewish
leaders in Czarist Russia,
aimed at restructuring the
economic base of Jewish liv-
ing in the land, would be
celebrated in 1980 in the
Holy City of Jerusalem of
the new Israel? Miracles
abound in Jewish history.
But this one is unbelieva-
The five who had the
dream, and pursued it, will
deservedly be remembered
at the week-long World
ORT Union Centennial that
opens in the ancient city at
the end of May. The found--
ers will be honored, their
dreams unraveled, their
tales retold, their struggles
depicted and their fulfill-
ment unrolled as the pages
of history are turned back to
the day 100 years ago when
they penned an historic let-
ter in the city of St.
Petersburg, stating their
purpose and calling for
Jewish communal support
of their effort.
The rest is history, a tale
that will light up the
gathering in Jerusalem as
ORT leaders from virtually
every part of the world
count the blessings, meas-
ure the agonizing path and
give thought to programs
for the two remaining de-
cades of the century —
while looking ahead to the
new century as the world
moves into an era of social,
political and economic mu-
tations with unpredictable
implications for viable
Jewish life.
The historic accom-
plishment of the five was
to trigger a new direction
in Jewish living, aimed at
restoring and enhancing
the place of the artisan in
the Jewish weave.
ORT revolutionized the
economic pattern under
which our people lived
under Czarist oppression
and since, turning our
_ luftmenschen into product-
ive men and women,
liberating -Jews from the
economic chains imposed on
them by hostile govern-
ments through teaching
These acts and programs
'ntroduced a new dimension
i z Jewish thinking about
the need of preparing the
youth for a world in change
by giving them hope for the
ORT's tale in the years of
its growth and functioning
has vindicated the dream-
ers. Neither war nor peace
has stood in the way. ORT
has long since been a name
that has meant vocation

and technical education of
tens of thousands of our
young people.
What the dreamers
envisioned, ORT has ful-
filled. And the dreaming
still goes on for the more
the world is in disarray,

the more will there be the
need for visionaries
moved by purpose.
Because it is moved by the
credo that there are no obs-
tacles to purpose, ORT has
written a golden chapter in
Jewish history.

them would go their way of
Unexpectedly, how-
ever, because of the suc-
cess of the book and the
movie, the lives of center
members have changed
significantly. Their
community is flourish-
ing; their will to survive is
stronger than ever and
they have become minor
celebrities to their
families and neighbors.
More than $25,000 in un-
solicited funds has been re-
ceived by the center and
membership continues to
flourish as former recluses
or on-lookers are drawn in
by the center's success and
increased activity.

The paperback version
includes the original text
and an additional chapter

that brings the reader up-
to-date on recent changes in
the community.


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