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September 04, 1981 - Image 68

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1981-09-04

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it Fridiy, WNW 4,151


'Moved by Love' Looks At Jewish Values and the Lower East Side



(Editor's note: Sharon
Panush Hochman is a
graduate student in clini-
cal social work at the
University of Michigan.)
They live in our dreams
where we are still their
children. Faces whose lines
blur, shadowy images
grown dim with memory's
failing eyes. Inside of us
they burn. Their warmth
comforts; their glow guides
our judgments. Like the
Shabat candles, they are
Shomrim, and we are secure
in the presence of their
flame ...
"Moved By Love," a novel
by William Gellin (Shen-
gold Publishers), houses the
grandparents and parents
of a world gone by — the
world of the Jewish immig-
rant, who came from East-
ern Europe at the turn of the
century and settled in New
The story centers around

a six-year-old boy, David
Paley. At the beginning of
the book, he is sitting on the
stoop of his lower East Side
tenement. It is before the.
start of the Sabbath, and
David is a fascinated ob-
server of the drama before
Pushcarts pack the
streets and the
cacophpny of peddlers'
voices, hoping to sell one
last item, and sharp-eyed
women, hoping to,find a
bargain, create a Aense-
ness in the air.
But all this changes. The
coming of the Sabbath
Queen brings a stillness.
Her peaceful veil descends
upon troubled souls, and
bids them rest. Max Paley
holds David's hand. He is
filled with love for his small
son but saddened at the re-
serve that exists between
Max recalls the moments
he has wished to take the
child in his arms and hold



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him close. Perhaps, it is the
years of Torah study that
have instilled a discipline,
controlling his action, in-
sulating him against self-
indulgence as well as pain.
Max Paley works the long
and arduous hours of a
presser in a garment fac-
tory, barely earning a living
for his family. The factory is
a hard master and it de-
mands the sacrifice of
health and safety.
Life is grim and times
are unsettled, but the
voice of the worker is be-
ginning to rise above the
din of machinery. Words
"freedom" gather into
phrases to be chanted by
workers of different
nationalities: "Humanity
is indivisible" —
"L'Umanita E Indivisi-
"Moved By Love" flows on
two levels. It is a novel of
social history and human
behavior. The movement of
unionization in America
provides the skeletal
structure of the story. The
author focuses, however, on
the interactions of the char-
acters, on the small acts of
daily living, so decent and
compassionate in scope,
that they are alipost heroic.
Unable to devote himself
to study as he had in Poland,
Max Paley lived the princi-
ples of Torah. His spirit
spoke to those he touched in
ways of mercy and kind-
As a learned man, and a
Tzadik, his interpretations -
of Talmud brought honor in
the Old Country. Here, in
America, his deeds were his
tongue, a universal lan-
guage understood by Jew
and. Gentile alike.
It is the language of
Rabbi Wolfson, principal
of the Yeshiva Etz Chaim,
who grants David a
scholarship and trusts
that "G-d will provide the
It is the language of Sam
Rubin, who understands the


The scene is set. David
stands in between his
parents. Rachel counts
out six pennies, each a
blessing for a year that
has passed since David's
birth. One by one, he
drops them into the tin
box and then impulsively
embraces his parents.
Our hearts are joyful. Our
eyes fill with tears as we
share in the poignancy of
the moment, and whisper
"Amen" with Max and
This is not a novel for
those looking for intricate
plot or complex character
analyses. Too many major
events scatter throughout
the 267 pages to allow for
such detailed development.
Gellin's book is more like
a tale, replete with images
of the Old World. These are
the shtetl figures, people

who have found their way
into the public heart and
conscience, in such prod-
uctions as "Fiddler on the
Roof' and "Lies My Father
Told Me."
There is the Tzadik,
whose piety shines above
the grind of the factory,
and the traditional
Jewish Mother, whose
love embraces her family
and household: There is
the son, who watches
with eyes that record the
essence of parental love,
and plant the seeds of
wisdom for future har-
vesting. These are not
real people, but pieces of
memories and fragments
of dreams, made whole.
William Gellin was born
in Slonim, Poland, and he
came to the United States in
1906, at the age of six. He
lived with his family on the
lower East Side of New
York, on a street that bears
the same name as David
Paley's in the novel.
Gellin earned his BA
from College of the City of
New York and his Juris
Doctorate at New York
University, in 1924. He is
both a certified public ac-
countant and an attorney,
and has "served as counsel
to a manufacturer's asgocia-
don which has contractural
relations with the Interna-
tional Garment Workers
Gellin's book was pub-
lished last year, after many

re-writings of the work. The
author was 80-years old,
and "Moved By Love" be-
came his first published -
work of fiction. It is a tribute
to him that the focus of the
story is on the small act.9 of
decency and compassion in
human interactions.
After decades of
worldly experience and
professional acclaim,
Gellin reminds us that in
the end these are the real
treasures of a lifetime.
"Moved By Love" is a
"working through" process
for Gellin. It is a psychologi-
cal journey of spiritual di-
mension. The sub-title of
the work belies the motive,
for this is "A Novel of Re-
membrance." To open the
cover and read the dedica-
tion is -to experience the jar-
ring of personal emotions.
Gellin inscribes, "To the
memory of my grandfather,
Reb Solomon of Slonim.
"TQ the memory of my
own grandfathers, • Ab-
raham — a scholar, and
Johnny — a tailor, whose
deeds spoke the language of
Torah and whose lives
blessed my family saying:
Justice, justice shalt thou
follow, that thou mayest live,
and inherit the land.
—Deuteronomy 16:20.

Let us have a care not to
disclose our hearts to those-
who shut up theirs against

ZOD Plans Balfour Celebration

Old World and the New. A

successful merchant with
an American wife, no less,
Sam wishes to give his son
the Hebrew name of Yosef.
He is also an anonymous
benefactor for Max, speak-
ing in his defense when
Max's job is threatened.
Then there is Mr.
Judelowitz, the junkman,
who transforms his cart into
a royal carriage to carry
Max to work. Because of his
trade, he is familiar with
the route, and he bursts
with pride pointing out the
streets to the revered Max
Always there is David's
mother, Rachel. Perhaps, it
is she who is most fluent in
the language of good deeds.
Preparing her son for his
first day of school, she
searches for a way to mark
the special occasion. Should
it be a blessing, a new swea-
ter, a party?
"No, none of these would
leave a lasting impression.
And then it came to her.
Tzedaka. An act of charity."

The Zionist Organization of Detroit's annual Balfour Celebration will be held
7:30 p.m. Oct. 25 at Ford Auditorium. Shown are the committees for the event, from
left, top row, Leah Hoffman, Dori Kiken, Esther Sperber, Sarah Gordon, Doris
Glut, Eleanor Hack and Beverly Laker- second row, Rose Shur, Helen Atler, Helen
Ring, Leah Field, Mollie Weston, Anng.Brand and Joni Feldman; third row, Anne
Silver, Marion Leib, Bella Leikin, Norma Hudosh, Pauline Klein, Sarah Laker,
Lillian Silverman, Eileen Friedlaender, Tillie Panush and Johanna Eisenberg;
fourth row, Sidney Brand, James Hack, Dr. Gerald Sherman, Hymie Cutler, Wal-
ter Field, Dr. Alan Feldman and Max Nosanchuk; fifth row, Louis Panush, Dr. I.
Walter Silver, Herzl Shur, Dr. Lester Zeff, Dr. Alex Friedlaender, Ezekiel Leikin
and Dr. Maxwell Hoffman; sixth row, Julius Ring, A. J. Cutler, Irving Laker, Dr.
Harold Maxmen, Dr. Bernard Weston and Julian Cohen; bottom row, Sidney
Silverman, Rabbi Leon Fram, Harry Laker, Dr. Sidney Leib and Dr. Sion Sol-

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