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January 22, 1982 - Image 61

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1982-01-22

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The Maturing of the American Jewish Press:
The Editor Portrayed as Its Symbol of Growth


Former Executive Editor,
Jewish Telegraphic Agency
(Copyright 1982, JTA, Inc.)

Was Franklin Delano
Roosevelt the "Jew Rosen-
feld" as the Nazis and his
most rabid detractors (then
and now) allege?
President Roosevelt him-
self said in a letter to Philip
Slomovitz, editor and pub-
lisher of The Detroit Jewish
News, that he had never
traced his ancestry further
back than the Roosevelt
who came to this country
from Holland around 1648.
But his ancestors in the dis-
tant past, he said, "may
have been Jews or Catholics
or Protestants — what I am
more interested in is
whether they were good
citizens and believers in
God — I hope they were
Publication of the FDR
letter in The Jewish News
in 1935 was a national news
sensation at the time. It has
been republished with
background correspondence
now in a little volume,
"Purely Commentary," a
selection of Slomovitz's col-
umns by that name pub-
lished by the Wayne State
University Press in honor of
the Jewish editor's 85th
birthday and 60th anniver-
sary as a newspaperman.
With it appears, for the first
time, a letter written by
Rabbi Stephen S. Wise quot-
ing Eleanor Roosevelt as
declaring that the
Roosevelts had a Jewish
Rabbi Wise marked the
letter "strictly personal
and confidential" and
Slomovitz observed that
confidence for 45 years.
"I have until now refused
to release this material,"
he writes in a preface,
"but there is an historical
tradition that such a
document can be re-
leased after almost
half-a-century of
In his letter, Wise re-
ported on a luncheon held at
his home in honor of the
President's wife. Wise was
not present but said his
wife, "who is very accurate,"
reported the conversation to
"Mrs. Franklin D.
Roosevelt said: 'Often
Cousin Alice and I say that
all the brains in the
Roosevelt family come
from our Jewish great-
grandmother.' She added a
name which, as I recall it,
was Esther Levy. Then she
said, 'Whenever mention is
made of our Jewish great-
grandmother by Cousin
Alice or myself, Franklin's
mother gets very angry and
says, 'You know that is not
so. Why do you say it?',' Mrs.
Roosevelt spoke as with
knowledge, conviction and
authority," Wise added.
"You must not, however,
make use of this. I think it is
best to let the matter die
down now."
And then Wise, who had
had a long and often stormy
relationship with FDR,

readers and recognition by
the general press as an au-
thentic voice of the Ameri-
can Jewish community. It
became the exemplar for
editors seeking to establish
quality newspapers in other
Jewish communities
around the country.
In one of the col-
umns quoted in the book,
Slomovitz describes the
transformation of the
American Jewish press
from "schmuss gazettes"
to newspapers, largely
with the help of the JTA
without which, he wrote
in 1967, "the Jewish
asked Slomovitz: "Do you world would be a desert
not think that what lacking the basic cement
President Roosevelt wrote — the rapidly developing
to you is more or less the information through its
statement of a man who news cables -- that binds
knows what I have just Jews and Jewries to-
written to be true but deems - gether."
it wiser and more expedient
Jewish leadership has
not to make any public men- been notoriously prone to
tion of it at this time?"
neglect the vast importance
The Roosevelt story of communications al-
was one of many, many
episodes in the long
career of an enterprising,
courageous newspaper-
man. The "Purely Com-
Since 1963, membership
mentary" column was in the United Jewish Ap-
but one part of the for- peal Young Leadership
mula for producing a Cabinet has provided prom-
high-quality American ising leaders of American
Jewish newspaper, add- Jewish communities with
ing to a careful selection opportunities for increased
of world, national and responsibility, education,
local news a running travel and camaraderie,
commentary explaining, leading to a deepened com-
elucidating and clarify- mitment to service on be-
ing the major develop- half of the Jewish people.
ments of the day as they
Detroit has been particu-
impinged on American larly active in the program,
Jewry. The column, inci- providing chairmen for the
dentally, was one of the national-level UJA Young
best features developed Leadership Cabinet for two
in the American Jewish successive years. Jewish
press in the past half- Welfare Federation Trea-
surer Stanley Frankel was
Carol Altman Bromberg, chairman in 1979-1980, fol-
who edited the collection, lowed by Lawrence Jackier,
doubtlessly tried to make it a board member of Federa-
a sampler of 60 years of col- tion and the Jewish Com-
umns to show the breadth, munity Center, in 1980-
depth and scope of the 1981.
editor's interests in so many
Currently, four De-
areas of thought and action. troiters serve on the na-
My choice of columns would tional Cabinet's executive
have been somewhat differ- committee: Jackier; Dr.
ent, but then, I assume, Richard Krugel, national
every reader would have his campaign chairman; Peter
own set of preferences.
Alter, Detroit Area chair-
When Phil Slomovitz man; and Mark Hauser,
came into the Jewish press Region V chairman (cover-
field after an apprentice- ing YLC groups in Michi-
ship in the general press, gan, Ohio, Kentucky and
American Jewish jour- part of Indiana).
nalism (Anglo-Jewish was
The idea of a young
the term then in vogue) was
cabinet was
not held in high esteem. The leadership
conceived in the early
two great national week- 1960s by Rabbi Herbert
lies, the American Hebrew Friedman, - then the
and the Jewish Tribune,
both of which had been the executive director of the
reflection of powerful per- national UJA. He was
sonalities, were already in concerned that younger
their twilight and the
Jewish Telegraphic Hospice Grant
Agency, which was to revo-
lutionize the American The Brooklyn Hospice of the
Jewish press by providing Metropolitan Jewish
dependable Jewish news
Center has been
speedily, was still struggl- Geriatric
awarded a three-year
ing for a foothold.
$120,000 grant from the
Slomovitz created The New York Community
Detroit Jewish News and Trust to train hospital-
built in into a solid, sub- based professionals in its
stantial newspaper reflect- methods of meeting the
ing high journalistic physical and psychosocial
standards. It -earned the needs of terminal cancer
confidence and respect of its patients.

though, ironically, it is a
field in which Jews play a
great role and have been
prominent ever since a
German Jew, Paul Julius
Reuter, founded 'the great
British agency which still
bears his name. It is only
comparatively recently that
the American Jewish press
has been recognized as a
force in the community.
As a member of the JTA
board for more than 30
years, Slomovitz had a
major role in educating the
American Jewish leader-
ship to an appreciation of
the American Jewish press.
As a founder of the Ameri-
can Jewish Press Associa-
tion and by his own example
with The Detroit Jewish
News, Slomovitz has done
yeoman work in creating
American Jewish press
standards. It is fitting that
Bar-Ilan University, in set-
ting up a chair of communi-
cations as the start of a pro-

gram in journalism, should
name it after Slomovitz.
What is the role of the
American Jewish news-
paperman? Slomovitz an-
swers this question in a
footnote to one of the col-
umns reprinted in the col-
lection in words that liter-
ally describe the doyen of
American Jewish jour-
"The Jewish newspaper-
man must view himself as
the historian of his time. He
is the fact-finder whose duty
it is to speak the truth and
experience of this challeng-
ing period in history to Jews
and to non-Jews as well. His
efforts are the surest way to
bring about the good-will
and human decency for
which civilized man as-

The man who has not
learned to say "No" will be a
weak if not a wretched man
as long as he lives.

Friday, January 22, 1982


a vy

have a joint meeting 8 p.m.
Tuesday in the Jewish War
Veterans Memorial Home.
Lipshaw-Hoberman and
Green Auxiliaries also will
participate. Dr. Lawrence
Silverman of Wayne State
University will be the guest
speaker in the program
entitled, "Doctors on Call."
Prospective members are
invited. For details, call
Dorothy Goldberg, 548-
6850; or the JWV office,

Rates Going Up

New immigrants to Israel
over age 60 may have trou-
ble finding inexpensive
health insurance.
Private health insurance
plans have been increasing
their rates. The Absorption
Ministry's health plan pro-
vides full coverage for three
years for a monthly fee.

Young Leaders Cabinet Prepares for Future

people were not being certain priorities," said velopment of the national
brought in to replace the Jackier. The men are Hadracha young leadership
leaders who had been called upon to travel to program, run by the local
serving the Jewish com- meetings, participate in Federations. In Detroit, the
first, Hadracha mission to
munities since World War study missions overseas,
represent the Cabinet as
Israel was led by Dr. Krugel
"Rabbi Friedman saw a speakers and work to- and Alter. The YLC con-
ducts its own missions sev-
need for a vehicle through gether to improve them-
eral times a year.
which to train and educate a selves as Jews and as re-
Dr. Krugel said Cabinet
new generation of Jewish source persons for the
organized Jewish com- members give talks about
leaders," said Frankel.
the group, Campaign or
The group of 46 men who munity.
Formal and informal other areas of expertise
cqmprised the first Cabinet
included such later- meetings for members and as requested. They may
prominent leaders as their wives are held be asked to appear at
Herschel Blumberg and throughout the year by the meetings locally or in the
region, usually requiring
Irwin Field, the present-and local YLC groups, often in
a maximum time com-
former UJA national connection with leadership
mitment of one day per
chairmen. Three current development and education.
Detroit chairman Alter month.
Federation vice presidents
Finding new members for
are former Cabinet mem- said an important event
Cabinet is an on-going
bers as well: Dr. Conrad
Giles, Thomas Klein and the third National Young responsibility for all cur-
Joel Tauber, general Leadership Conference, rent participants. Alter said
chairman of the 1982 Cam- March 14-16 in Washing- the next leadership de-
paign. Other Cabinet toh, D.C. Expected to at- velopment meeting, 8 p.m.
alumni represented on the tract over 2,000 young ,Saturday at Cong. Shaarey
Federation Board of Gover- Jewish leaders nationwide, Zedek, will feature a talk by
nors are Joel Gershenson, the biennial event will Senator Carl Levin on
David Hermelin, Michael again include panel dis- "Jews and the American
Maddin, Allan Nachman, cussions, workshop and Political Process." Details
and Robert Slatkin. Today, study sessions on issues of on the upcoming National
there are some 350 Cabinet concern to the Jewish com- Young Leadership Confer-
members from communities munity. The topics will in- ence in Washington will be
clude Energy and the World presented. Persons in-
across the country.
Soviet and South terested in attending the
In the early days of the
YLC, it was usually the sons American Jewy, U.S. Mid- s March event are invited to
of prominent Jewish leaders dle East Policy and Ter- attend this meeting. They
are asked to contact Sandra
who were invited to partici- rorism and the PLO. -
Cabinet members were Feuer at Federation, 965-
pate, and members could
remain in the group from responsible for the de- 3939.
age 25 to 40. Frankel said
participants invited today
may be any young Jewish
man who has demonstrated
an active commitment to
Jewish service, most often
through involvement in his
local Jewish Federation and
Since 1975, the Cabinet
has limited members to four
one-year terms, and the in-
dividuals must re-apply for
acceptance each year.
Members serving on the
executive committee are
allowed an additional two-
Members of Detroit's United Jewish Appeal
Young Leadership Cabinet include, from left, seated:
year term.
Cabinet members are Dr. Richard Krugel, Peter Alter, Michael Feldman,
expected to "re-organize Mark Hauser and Norman Pappas; and standing,
their lives according to Lawrence Jackier, Dr. Dan Guyer and Dr. Mark Diem.


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