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May 01, 1981 - Image 29

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1981-05-01

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Jamaica on U.S.-Soviet Fence

(JTA) — There are going to
be changes in the Jamaican
posture at the United Na-
tions, I was told here by
knowledgeable officials of
the Ministry of Foreign Af-
fairs. These sources differ,
however, in how major the
change will be. The former
government of Prime
Minister Michael Manley,
whi'ch was swept out of
office in democratic elec-
tions last October, voted
consistently at the UN with
the Soviet bloc.
The pattern continued at
the last General Assembly
even though most of the vot-
ing took place after the elec-
tions — after the new pro-
Western government of
Prime Minister Edward
Seaga had assumed power.
Hold-over Ambassador
Donald Mills voted with the
Arab-Soviet bloc on seven of
the eight resolutions at-
tacking Israel and the
Camp David agreements.
Now that a new ambas-
sador, Sir Egerton
Richardson, has arrived in
New York, there will be less
concurrence with the Soviet
Union, I was told. But that
does not mean that Jamaica
will vote consistently with
the United States. Al-
though the new government
is dependent on Washing-
ton and the friendship of the
American people for finan-
cial aid and the restoration
of its tourist trade, the
minister of foreign affairs,
Hugh Shearer emphasized
that his country is not in
America's pocket.
He said at a recent
meeting: "Jamaica does
not take instructions
from the Unites States or
any super-power. If it
happens that our view
coincides with the United
States, that's good for
them. If it happens that
our views and the views
of Russia coincide, that's
good for them."


I was assured, however,
that one of the major issues
on which Jamaica agrees
with the United States is in
support of the Camp David
accords and the Israel-
Egypt peace_ treaty. The

Jews to Meet


The largest delegation of
Yugoslavian Jews ever to
travel to Israel, numbering
about 150, will attend a
world conference of Jewish
emigrants from Yugoslavia.
Marking the 40th an-
niversary of the Nazi con-
quest of Yugoslavia, during
which 80 percent of Yugos-
lavia's 75,000 Jews were
murdered, the conference
will open April 27.
The Yugoslavian Jewish
community today numbers
about 6,000 and maintains
strong ties with Israel. More
than 8,000 Yugoslavian
Jews emigrated to Israel
from 1948-1952, constitut-
ing half the post-war Jewish
population. Since then only
small numbers have left the

General Assembly opposes
the peace treaty but
Jamaica will no longer vote
with its majority on this
issue as it did last fall.
Shearer is disappointed
that the non-aligned na-
tions have not had the guts
to demand the withdrawal
of Soviet troops from Af-
"Jamaica regards the
Soviet intervention in Af-
ghanistan as an assault on
the most fundamental prin-
ciples of the non-aligned
movement," he said. In al-
most the same breath,
Shearer went on to support
fully "the right of the Pales-
tinian people to self-
determination and the
withdrawal of Israel from
Arab territories."
Like many black dip-
lomats, Shearer juxtaposes
in his own mind, the Soviet
invasion of Afghanistan
and Israeli occupation of the
West Bank.
Another psychological
influence on Jamaican
attitudes is Israel's rela-
tions with South Africa.
Whether you are talking
to a cabdriver or a
Foreign Ministry official
the conversation soon de-
teriorates into highly-
exaggerated blathering
on Israel's trade with
South Africa.
Jamaica's influential but
declining Jewish commu-
nity is doing what it can to
improve Israel's image. A
few months ago a new
organization was formed
named Yadid — the Israel-
Jamaican Friendship Asso-
The leaders of the Jewish
community, Ainsley Hen-
riques, president, and Er
nest deSouza, secretary and
lay leader, are devoting
their time and organiza-
tional talents to furthering
the aims of the new organ-

Henriques and deSouza
are leaders of a community
which has seen better times.
It is one of the oldest Jewish
communities in the West-
ern hemisphere. Two hun-
dreds years ago there were
half-a-dozen synagogues all
over the Island. Now there
is only one synagogue in the
capital, Kingston.
At a recent Friday eve-
ning service in the Kings-
ton synagogue there
were 20 residents and a
half-dozen American
tourists, 12 men and 14
women. This was a
"fabulous attendance"
according to Marion
Lopez, one of the resi-
dents. The style of the
bima and seats was
Sephardic and the floor
was covered with sand
like several other
Sephardic synagogues in
Amsterdam and the
Caribbean. The prayer
book was entirely in
English with a few He-
brew blessings translit-
The congregation's lay
reader (the last rabbi left a
couple of years ago) is de-
Souza who was on vacation.
This evening services were
conducted by Charles Ale-

xander, a 27-year-old attor-
ney, who had just returned
from Jerusalem where he
represented the Jamaican
community. The cantor was
Walter deSouza, a cousin of
Ernest. He stood in the choir
loft next to the organ and
led the congregation in old
Sephardic melodies and a
traditional "Yidgal."
Both Walter de Souza and
his cousin, Ernest, who is
the de facto "rabbi" of the
congregation, had Chris-
tian mothers. In their opin-
ion, this did not make them
or their families less
Jewish. "My father sang in
the synagogue choir for 44
years," Walter deSouza
told me at the "kidush" in
the social hall. "I sang with
him as a boy. Now my eldest
son often sings with me."
The son's mother, deSouza's
divorced wife, is also a
Charles Alexander, the
lay leader, is a different
strand in the peculiar
weave of Jamaican Jewry.
He is a "baal-teshuva" from
an assimilated Jewish fam-
ily. His mother was not
Jewish and his father was
not interested in the
synagogue. Alexander was
taught by Ernest deSouza
and celebrated his Bar
Mitzva a few years ago.
Alexander adapted
rapidly to congregational
problems. As the American
tourists said good-bye, he
hinted broadly that they
have difficulty getting a
minyan on Saturday morn-


Friday, May 1, 1981 29

Congregation Shaarey Zedek
in celebration of its 120th year

is proud to present the

Cultural Commission's
Second Annual
Peter and Clara Weisberg Concert

SUNDAY, MAY 31,1981
8:00 P.M.


A Musical Pageant featuring
Composer Morton Gold

Members of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Festival chorus and dancers

Soloist: Cantor Chaim Najman
Narrator: Rabbi Irwin Groner

Shaarey Zedek's Sisterhood and Men's Club Chorales

Admission to the "Havdalah" pageant will be free. A limited number of tickets
will be available to the public upon written request to Shaarey Zed'ek, P.O. Box
2056, Southfield, 48037.

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