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January 16, 1981 - Image 64

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1981-01-16

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64 Friday, January 16, 1981


Hofjude-Shtadlan Has Democratized Role in 1980s


(Copyright 1981, JTA, Inc.)

President-Elect Ronald Reagan's position on Israel
and the Middle East has been subjected to challenge. His
critics maintain he has little knowledge about foreign af-
fairs. Therefore, the contention that when he calls the PLO
"terrorists" he portrays a posture of strong support for
Israel as a strategic force that is vital for American inter-
ests in the Middle East.
Whereupon Maxwell E. Greenberg, national chairman
of the Anti-Defamation League of the Bnai Brith, offered a
dissent. In support of the Reagan role he wrote a defense in
which he contended that authorities with experience are
advising the President-elect. He presented a defensive list:
Henry Kissinger, Henry Jackson, Richard Allen, Eugene
Rostow, Rita Hauser and Richard Pipes.
Are there new Shtadlanim in this list? There has al-
ways been a Hofjude, a Shtadlan, interceding for Jews with
heads of state. Max M. Fisher had that role in the adminis-
trations of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. In the Green-
berg list are two prominent Jews: Henry Kissinger and
Eugene Rostow, and a half-Jew, Rita Hauser.
In the Reagan ranks there were many prominent
Jews, chief among them Theodore Cummings, Albert
Spiegel and Max Fisher. They will be watched in the •
coming months and years. The roles as Shtadlanim
will be tested. What really is the traditional position of
a Shtadlan, who, in the eras of monarchs and in
periods of anti-Semitism, were labeled Hofjuden?
At times a Shtadlan, a Hofjude, had been treated con-
temptuously, and described derisively. It was because a
Shtadlan always acted singly, often personally, when in-
terceding for Jews and Jewry in an intimate manner with
rulers, heads of governments and people of influence in the
business and financial world. Thus Shtadlanim were not
always treated respectfully. Yet there is nothing unaccept-
able in this interpretation of the Shtadlan in the Universal
Jewish Encyclopedia:
"Shtadlan (advocate), a Jewish title in Central Europe
and Poland dating from the 16th Century although the title
Mishtadlim, denoting delegates elected to represent
Jewish interests, was used in Spain as far back as 1354. At
times a Shtadlan was the salaried business manager and
the representative of the external affairs of the larger
Jewish communities, appointed for a fixed period.
At another epoch the title implied a dignified and
honorary position, entered upon voluntarily. This post



could be held solely by someome who, by virtue of his
wealth, his business connections, his eloquence and his
personality, was influential with kings, princes and other
authorities. He was the sentinel of the Jewish community
or of all Jewry within the state which was always in con-
stant fear of encroachment upon its meager existence, and
he frequently averted threatening danger or harmful regu-
lations against the Jews."
The Court Jew has long played an important role
in Jewish life. He has been a leading actor on the
scene of Jewish self-defense and of intercession with
the heads of governments for generations. Thus,
therefore, the definition of the term in the Universal
Jewish Encyclopedia:
"COURT JEWS, agents of the rulers of a number of
principalities in Central and Eastern Europe during the
period from the close of the Thirty Years' War (1648) to the
end of the 18th Century. Wealthy, clever and enterprising,
they were of considerable aid to the petty rulers and the
absolute monarchs in spanning the gap between the devas-
tation that had followed the destructive religious wars,
leaving wide stretches financially prostrate, and the de-
velopment of the industrial economy that was to inaugu-
rate a new era of prosperity at the end of the century-and-
a-half of their activity.
"Their duties embraced a variety of activities: they
supplied bullion for the treasury and often supervised the
mint, supplied the court with money and goods, undertook
diplomatic and commercial missions, supplied the army in
war and peace, and introduced and developed new indus-
tries and agricultural products.
"Because of their usefulness they enjoyed great
privileges. They were not restricted in their movements (as
were the Jews in general), were exempt from internal tolls,
were under the direct jurisdiction of the court tribunal and
enjoyed easy access to the prince. They often wielded great
power, but if their plans miscarried or conditions in the
realm were unpropitious, they ran the risk of dismissal,
disgrace and even death.
"Their occupation usually became hereditary,
and a moneyed aristocracy of Court Jews arose. Oc-
casionally, contending families vied with one another
for the prince's favor, and they were not always
scrupulous in their choice of means toward gaining
this end."
In the Who's Who of Shtadlan-ism or Hofjude-ism, if
such terms are permissible, there is a record of Jewish
financiers whose banking skills enabled them to assist
monarchs and military dictators financially. Many of them
possessed diplomatic shrewdness. Will the Jews with ac-
cess to the White House be of the latter quality? Will they
be the trained academicians, students of history with a
knowledge of their people's needs as well as legacies, thus
possessing qualifications for leadership?
The sense of responsibility inherent in Shtadlanut in
modern times is the caution needed not to misrepresent, to
beware of false and arrogant pronouncement. This is where
an old lesson, cautioning that the tongue is the most
dangerous of a person's anatomy when the tongue's minor
slips can spell ruination.
The warning is contained in Dr. Louis Ginzberg's
"Legends of the Jews," Volume 4, pages 173 to 175. Quoting
Dr. Ginzberg:



"The king of Persia was very ill, and his physician„
told him he could be cured by nothing but the milk of a
lioness. The king accordingly sent a deputatior
ing rich presents to Solomon, the only being
world who might in his wisdom discover means to
obtain lion's milk.
"Solomon charged Benaiah to fulfill the Persian king's
wish. Benaiah took a number of kids, and repaired to the
lion's den. Daily he threw a kid to the lioness, and after
some time the beast became familiar with him, and finally
he could approach the lioness close enough to draw milk
from her udders.
"On the way back to the Persian king the physician
who had recommended the milk cure dreamed a dream. All
the organs of his body, his hands, feet, eyes, mouth, and
tongue, were quarrelling with one another, each claiming
the greatest share of credit in procuring the remedy for the
Persian monarch.
"When the tongue set forth its own contribution to the
cause of the king's service, the other organs rejected its
claim as totally unfounded. The physician did not forget the
dream, and when he appeared before the king, he spoke:
`Here is the dog's milk which we went to fetch for you.' The
king, enraged, ordered the physician to be hanged, because
he had brought the milk of a bitch instead of a lion's dam.
"During the preliminaries to the execution, all the
limbs and organs of the physician began to tremble,
whereupon the tongue said: 'Did I not tell you that all
of you are no good? If you will acknowledge my
superiority, I shall even now save you from death.'
"They all made the admission it demanded, and the
physician requested the executioner to take him to the
king. Once in the presence of his master, he begged him as a
special favor to drink of the milk he had brought. The king
granted his wish, recovered from his sickness, and dis-
missed the physician in peace. So it came that all the organs
of the body acknowledge the supremacy of the tongue."
Candidates for President and other offices often suf-
fered from slips of the tongue. Jewish spokesmen have not
been immune. With all due credit to those who may be the
new Shtadlanim in the 1980s, another collective role must
be acknowledged. Now it is a group action. The Shtadlanim
act collectively. They are the Conference of Presidents of
Major American Jewish Organizations.
Thus, the new Shtadlan has gained a democratically -
acceptable status. He is a collective factor in the diplomacy
of this era.

New Christian Right: Social Views vs. Support of Israel


Participants in a panel dis-
cussion on "The New Chris-
tian Right and the Jews" in
America agreed that the
vehement support of Israel
on the part of right-wing
Christian fundamentalists
on the one hand and their
reactionary, anti-liberal
political and social views on
the other hand, pose a seri-
ous dilemma for American
Jews. But the panelists dis-
agreed on how this dilemma
should be approached.
The panel was part of the
1980 National Editors Con-
ference of the Jewish Stu-

dent Press Service held at
American Jewish Congress
The participants were
Annette Daum, inter-
religious affairs director of
the Union of American He-
brew Congregations
(UAHC), and Kenneth
Jacobson, Middle East af-
fairs director of the Anti-
Defamation League of Bnai
Brith. The discussion was
moderated by Dr. Henry
Feingold, professor of
American Jewish history at
City University of New
According to Jacob-
son, the fundamentalist

Christian right and espe- siah.
Jacobson said that al-
cially the Moral Majority
movement headed by though this pro-Zionist
Rev. Jerry Falwell stand should be cultivated,
demonstrates an "ex- it poses a dilemma for
tremely strong pro- American Jews because of
Zionist position" that social policies that alienate
American Jewry should supporters of Israel from
cultivate and encourage. other segments of society.
But at the same time, he As a case in point, he re-
noted, the Jewish commu- called that outgoing Sen.
nity should be aware that Frank Church (D-Idaho), a
the motive of the Moral staunch supporter of Israel,
Majority in supporting Is- refused to accept the
rael "is not so pure from our Jabotinsky Award in No-
point of view" because, he vember because it was also
said, they see the ingather- bestowed on Falwell.
Jacobson maintained
ing of all the Jews in Israel
as a precondition for the that the need to cultivate
second coming of the Mes- the relationship between
American Jewry and the
funadmentalists is impor-
tant in view of the little

measure of support Israel
enjoys in the rest of the
world. He added, however,
"American Jews have to
examine on a mulitiplicity
of levels their relations with
the Moral Majority and not
on the issue of support of Is-
rael alone."

He said Jews should con- - and economic issues.
Feingold said the fun-
sider the impact the views of
the Moral Majority will damentalist Christians are
have on Jewish life in "wonderfully Zionist" but
they have a different ap-
America in years to come.
A different approach proach to power than the
was advocated by Daum Jews who believe in com-
who called on American plete separation of church
Jews to come out in the and state.
open" against the Moral
Majority despite their
support of Israel. She Inflation Leader
warned that if the opin-
NEW YORK — Israel
ions and views of the now leads the world in infla-
Moral Majority are trans- tion with an annual _
lated into political power, 131.5 percent, accordimeto
America will face "a new a report by the Interna-
repressive era" which, tional Monetary Fund. Is-
she warned, would be rael's current rate of infla-
"dangerous to the Jews." tion has surpassed the 118
Daum said, "We should percent rate in Turkey and
appreciate the support (of Argentina's 112 percent
the Moral Majority for Is- rate.
rael) but yet we should not
give them awards. We are By contrast, Israel's gross
going to end with egg On our national product for 1980
faces. We have to fight them rose by less than one per-,
in the open." She added that cent over the 1979 figure.
the American Jewish corn- The 0.9 percent increase
munity is against the was the worst- showing for
agenda of the Moral Major- the country's GNP in more
ity on social, educational than a decade.

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