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March 26, 1982 - Image 59

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1982-03-26

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

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS'

Committee 'Acculturates' Soviet Immigrants

By BEVERLY WOLKIND

Jewish Welfare Federation

,

For the first time since
arriving in Detroit, many
Russian Jews gathered
around a Seder table will, be
led in a community service
by a fellow Russian.
At the Jimmy Prentis
Morris Branch of the Jewish
Community Center, they
will enjoy the beauty of an
ancient tradition without
any barrier. Using Russian
anguage haggadot, Leonid
—.Nlakarov-Limanov will
conduct the entire service in
Russian.
It's one of the Russian Ac-
culturation Committee suc-
cess stories. How do people
who have been denied ex-
pression of their Jewishness
— while being persecuted
solely because they are
Jews — feel about their
heritage after -they emig-
rate? Once resettled, do
Russian Jews help each
other in the same spirit of
tzedaka extended to them
by the Jewish community?
Questions like these
prompted the formation
two years ago of the Rus-
sian Acculturation
Committee, a joint ven-
ture of the Jewish Com-

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munity Center and the
Jewish Welfare Federa-
tion. Beyond the im-
mediate needs of housing
and jobs, the more than
500 newcomer families
from the USSR settling
here since 1973 have
other kinds of needs.
Spearheaded by Stuart E.
Hertzberg, a member of
Federation's Board of Gov-
ernors and former president
of the Jewish Vocational
Service and Community
Workshop, the committee
has been instrumental in
helping the immigrants un-
derstand their Jewish
heritage and the network of
communal activities avail-
able to them, while also en-
couraging them to help each
other in moving toward
greater self-sufficiency. •
Coordinator Dr. Luba
Berton, who speaks fluent
Russian, is a staff member
of the Jewish Community
Center where she also coor-
dinates the Center's En-
glish language program.
In helping initiate many
activities, the Accultura-
tion Committee has become
something of a model.
Hertzberg has noted that
Detroit's program is attract-
ing the interest of other
Jewish communities.
Among the activities
the Russians themselves
have asked for and
worked to implement is a
new young people's
group. As the teen-age
and college-age Russians
have dealt with the chal-
lenge of learning the
ways of their American
counterparts, they have
also felt the need for a so-
cial group of their own.
Helping answer that
need is 28-year old Sam
Valk who emigrated just
over three years ago and
who has established his
own insurance agency.
Valk says he is concerned
about the young people, few
of whoth were able to attend
a synagogue in Russia. He
believes that whether or not
he is religious, "my heart
tells me it is important to
live as a Jew, and I'm trying
to give this feeling to the
younger generation."
To this end, Valk is plan-
ning programs about Israeli
arts, political and cultural
life. The group also hopes to
obtain stereo equipment for
upcoming social events,
such as a disco dance plan-

ned for April 3.
There are a number of
other groups the immig-
rants have established. One
is the New World Club, 100
senior citizens who have
learned about their new
country through monthly
meetings, newsletters and
outings. Working with Dr.
Berton, Russians Zina Kar-
donskaya and Alicia
Klemptner have provided
the impetus for such ac-
tivities as a trip to the De-
troit Institute of Arts,
where they were greeted by
a Russian-speaking guide.
Another way in which
the immigrants are work-
ing together to become
part of the community is
the Soviet army veterans
group, headed by Joseph
Ayzin. The 50 members
meet monthly and have
planned a number of ac-
tivities, including a pic-
nic sponsored jointly
with the Jewish War Vet-
erans of the U.S.A.
Others help in other
ways. Vladimir Kovner
emigrated from his native
Russia about four years ago.
A professional worker
within the auto industry, he
writes a column for
"Fonarik" (Little Lantern),
the Jewish Community
Center's monthly Russian
language newspaper that
enjoys national readership.
In the "Cultural Life in De-
troit" column, Kovner keeps
other immigrants informed
of local art, music and film
events.
Immigrants
Tanya
Polsky and Shayna Ehrlich
participated in the
Phonogift pledge drive
sponsored this month by the
Women's Division of Feder-
ation. As Dr. Berton
explained, these women
come from a country where
this kind of community
spirit is unheard of.
It is precisely what the
Acculturation Committee
set out to accomplish . . .

Correction

The item appearing in
last week's Jewish News
about Soviet prisoner of
conscience Ida Nudel was
in error. It should have
said that Miss Nudel will
be released from siberian
exile, but there is no word
on her being allowed to
migrate to Israel.

helping Russian Jews un-
derstand and take pride in
their Jewishness as they
meld with the community.
Funding for the accultu-
ration programs is provided
by the Jewish Welfare Fed-
eration, out of a direct grant
from the United Jewish
Charities. The committee
consists of representatives
from JWF member agencies
like United Hebrew Schools
and the Jewish Community
Council, as well as the
Synagogue Council of De-
troit, Bnai Brith and other
organizations.

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