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July 02, 1982 - Image 22

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1982-07-02

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

22 Friday, July 2, 1982

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Electronic Golem Aids Hebrew U. in Compiling a Yiddish Lexicon

JERUSALEM — The ac-
counts of the demise of the

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Yiddish language are pre-
mature. "It is not dying and
it is not dead," says Chone
Shmeruk, professor of Yid-
dish at the Hebrew Univer-
sity of Jerusalem. "It is
alive and will live a long
time, despite what the
doomsters think."
The story of the Hebrew

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University's Department of
Yiddish Studies is to a large
extent also the story of
Chone Shmeruk. In 1951,
when the university
launched its first course in
Yiddish studies, Shmeruk
was one of three students in
the department. Polish-
born, he fled that country on
the eve of World War II and
enlisted in the Russian
army. It was not until 1949
that he was able to immig-
rate to Israel.
In 1953, Shmeruk was the
only student to be awarded
a BA in Yiddish studies. By
the end of the 1960s he was
head of the department, a
post he held until 1980
(though he is currently act-
ing department head for one
year).
Research of East
European Jewry, the
publication of well-
received books in Yid-
dish, and the compilation
of a major Yiddish - He-
brew dictionary are only
a few of the department's
current projects.

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The idea of a comprehen-
sive Yiddish - Hebrew dic-
tionary dates back to the
beginning of the century.
But it is only now, with the
advanced means at the uni-
versity's disposal, that it
has come to fruition. It is the
university's electronic
"golem" — more commonly
known as a computer —
that is providing the ability
to complete the vast
classification work invovled
in a reasonable period of
time.
"We estimate that one
volume will be published
every two years," says Dr.
Meir Wolff, who is in charge
of the project. At this stage,
the work is being planned
for the next 10 years."
In addition to the
Jerusalem end of the proj-
ect, work is also under way
on it in New York, where
the dictionary's chief editor,
Prof. Marvin Herzog, is
based. Jerusalem is work-
ing on the second letter of
the alphabet, beis, while
New York is engaged in
compiling the entries for the
third letter, gimmel.
Entries for the first let-
ter, aleph, have filled four
published volumes, or
about one-third of the

entire dictionary.
The study of Yiddish ois
inseparable from the study
of the Holocaust according
to Dr. Yehiel Szeintuch, a
lecturer in the Yiddish de-
partment. Dr. Szeintuch,
whose area of expertise is
Jewish cultural activism in
Europe before and during
the Holocaust, was the
originator of a project
undertaken jointly with
Yad Vashem, the Holocaust
Memorial Authority in
Jerusalem. Its subject:
Jewish creativity in the
ghettos and concentration
camps.
The result of the under-
taking was a mobile exhibi-

tion which was first held at
Yad Vashem and then at
the Jewish National and
University Library on the
Hebrew University's Givat
Ram campus. The exhibi-
tion is to be the first step in
the comprehensive
documentation of the his-
tory of the Jews in the ghet-
tos and camps, Dr. Szein-
tuch notes.

Among the courses of-
fered by the Yiddish De-
partment are Holocaust re-
search, semantics, litera-
ture, and folklore — all in
Yiddish, of course. The de-,-
partment currently has 4 1:
students at all levies.

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Chief-of-Staff Lieut. -
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soldiers at the front that it
would not be fair to let them
go now while reservists
were still on duty.

Officials feel that reser-
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jobs within the economy,
should be released as soon
as possible.
The men doing their na-
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bably right in one instance, guilty of
fuzzy thinking in another, and
tragically in error on a third.
He was correct in stating that there
is more religious freedom in the
Soviet Union "than most Americans
believe there is. - But that is more a
statement about us than it is about
the situation there. Most Americans
probably believe that all churches,

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B

made several
statements about religious
freedom in Russia at the close of his
recent visit to Moscow. He was pro-

illy Graham

R.

* 0000000000000000000000000000000as

religion which remains in Russia is
outlawed and underground. Not so.
There are religious institutions which
are open (though restricted) and peo-
ple do attend (though always under
surveillance.) The most crowded
church I have ever seen was a Baptist
Church in Moscow on a Sunday mor-
ning two years ago. Of course, on the
same Sunday morning in Atlanta or
Dallas there were probably 100 Bap-
tist congregations with that many in
attendance, instead of just one. But
there is more religious freedom than
most Americans know about.
Graham's fuzziness was in accep-
ting the Russian definition of
religious freedom. Over there it
means that a state licensed, officially
approved, religious organization can
gather for worship. Period! That's
all. No social application of the
religious message is permitted. No

religious education of children is
allowed. No Bibles, hymn books, or
religious tracts can be printed or
distributed. 'You can pray and then
go home. If Billy Graham considers
that religious freedom then his inter-
pretation of that treasured right is
poles apart from mine.
His tragic error was in suggesting
that he saw no evidence of religious
persecution. This absolutely boggles
my mind. Graham visited. the
Vashchcinko and Chmykhalova
families in the American Embassy.
They have been there in the 'protec-

tive custody of the United States for
nearly four years after a quarter cen-
tury of effort to receive permission to
emigrate to a place where they could
practice their Pentacostal faith in

freedom. How he could have talked
with them and observed no evidence
of religious persecution is beyond
understanding.
Does he know nothing of Ida
Nudel, and Viktor Brailowsky, and
Ilya Essas, and Evgeny Lein, and
Anatoly Scharansky, and hundreds of
thousands of other Soviet Jews whose
fundamental religious and human
rights are denied daily?
Open your eyes, Dr. Graham.
There are none so blind as those who
will not see.

(Don McEvoy is Senior Vice President of
the National Conference of Christians and
Jews. The opinions expressed are his own.)

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