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May 22, 1981 - Image 26

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1981-05-22

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

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

26 Friday, May 22, 1981

.

Leonard Simons' Machers and Mavericks'
Reconstruct the Past in Communal History

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he could not have recon-
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troit Jewish history as well
as he did in his lecture at
Temple Beth El Tuesday
evening.
Perhaps he is a 'coacher"

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himself, else the title of his
address could not have been
"Machers and Mavericks I
Have Known." And with the
"perhaps" attached any
chance of a libel suit is av-
erted — just as Leonard
himself averted it by,speak-
ing mainly about those long
gone in his reminiscences.
Here is how Simons de-
fined Machers and
Mavericks:
"Mavericks are people
with ideas and strong minds
of their own. They carry no-
body's brand. And, unlike --
cattle, they do not always do
what they should do or are
expected to do. Usually,
they are exceptionally
smart, determined people.
Because they are usually
successful • also — the
Mavericks end up , as
Machers.
"Machers are people who
are 'doers.' They are not all
wealthy but they are people
of influence in organiza-
tions, politics, business,
civic affairs, religion,
charities, etc. — people who
make things happen and get
things done."
Skilled as he is in public
relations, Simons added
fascination to his lecture by
illustrating it with photos
he had taken of the per-
sonalities he depicted.
No wonder, therefore,
that the evening was one
of hilarity, and it was one
of great delight thanks to
Simons' skill as a
storyteller, attributable
also to his "memory like
an elephant's."
Of course, he mentioned
also the living — himself
and his darling wife Har-
riette. The rest were the
other giants — of the past.
Resorting to another per-
haps — perhaps Leonard re-
scued himself from criticism
by the ERA advocates by
mentioning Harriette.
In addition to Harriette,
Simons lent importance to
his oratory by including
Eleanor Roosevelt in the list
of notables scrutinized in
his reminiscences.

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LEONARD N. SIMONS
The personalities he de-

picted — and there was a
story, tinged with humor,
about each — were two rab-
bis, Morris Adler and Be-
nedict Glazer; the two dis-
tinguished brothers, Henry
and Fred Butzel; Nate
Shapero, Maurice
Aronsson, Sidney Allen,
Meyer Prentis; and he went
far afield by speaking also
about Eleanor Roosevelt,
David Ben-Gurion and Kim
Novak.
Two years ago, Simons
commenced his storytel-
ling with an address at
Temple Beth El entitled
"Confessions of a
Schnorrer." It, - too, was
replete with humor. The
retelling of the humorous
in his speech last_ Tues-
day will have to wait for
the reprinting of his cur-
rent address, as was the
fate of his first speech.
But last Tuesday's had
another aspect.
He mentioned another
person among the living,
Hebrew Union College-
Jewish Institute of Religion
Prof. of Bible Harry M. Or-
linsky. It relate to Simons'
insistent way M. pursuing
an idea which becomes an
ideal with him. In this case
it was his conviction that
the words with which Holy
Scriptures always com-
menced in English transla-
tion should not be changed
in the revised translations.
Here is the story as he re-
lated it to his audience at
Temple Beth El Tuesday
evening:
"About-10 years ago I was
on the JPS board. The
society needed money to fi-
nance the new translation. I
was asked to prepare a cam-
paign to raise Detroit's fair
share. My plan worked and
was duplicated around the
country. The chairman of
the translation committee
of seven biblical scholars
was my friend, Dr. Harry
Orlinsky of the Hebrew
Union College, one of the
greatest Bible scholars
alive.
"Orlinsky and I kept in
contact with each other be-
cause we both knew there
was going to be more fund-
raising after the Torah por-
tion was completed. Harry
sent me typewritten copies
of the new translation as it
went along. The first page
he sent me showed that the
scholars had changed the
very first line of the Bible —
universally known as 'In
the beginning God created
the heaven and the earth.'

"I was shocked. To
change this best known
sentence in our Bible was
sacrilegious to me. I im-
mediately wrote Orlinsky
and pleaded with them
not to change it. We
corresponded all year. I
coaxed — I argued — I
tried my best powers of
persuasion . . . all to no
avail. I was very sad and
unhappy.
".Imagine my surprise
when I received my copy of
the new Torah book. They
did change the first line. It
now reads — 'In the begin-
ning when God began to
create the heaven and the
earth.' But they put a small
notation after the word
`Create' and at the bottom of
the page they put — 'Or, In
the beginning God created
the heaven and the earth.'
"I'm sure Dr. Orlinsky
would never admit that he
retained the postscript
wording because of my
year-long pleading with
them to save the original
time-immemorial transla-
tion of the first line of the
Bible. But, I like to think
that I personally did help
influence this change of
heart by the scholars and
that I helped save this first
line of the Bible for post-
erity. So — sue me — I'm
proud of the time and effort I
spent working on these 10
little words."

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The clothing drive for the
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and the American Associa-
tion for Ethiopian Jews.
For information on how to
send the clothing to Israel,
write AAEJ, Clothing
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Newport Beach, Calif.
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