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July 23, 1982 - Image 64

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1982-07-23

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Friday, July 23, 1982


Reform Debates `Equality of Descent' in Judaism


President, Union of American
Hebrew Congregations

(Editor's note: Early
this month the Central
Conference of American
Rabbis deferred action
until its next annual
meeting on an historic
proposal made in 1979 by
Rabbi Schindler to con-
fer the status of Jew on
any child, either of whose
parents is Jewish, pro-
vided they both agree to
their child
Jewishly, and do so.
These are excerpts from
Rabbi Schindler's pre-
sentation in the debate at
the CCAR convention.)

I believe there are urgent
present-day needs that
summon us candidly and
clearly to declare what we
have long affirmed in prac-
tice: the we deem the pater-
nal line as valid a factor in
determining Jewishiness as
we do the maternal lide.
Our earlier affirmations
on the subject are not suffi-
cient for the need. Children
of Jewish mothers are
deemed Jewish no matter
what. But when the father
is Jewish, the parents are
required to declare their
willingness to rear their

children as Jews. The chil-
dren, in turn, must be
Jewishly educated and then
'Bar or Bat Mitzva or Con-
firmed and only then are
they to be regarded as fully
Jewish. None of this is re-
quired in the case of a
Jewish mother.
Why is it so important
that we speak now, when we
have lived without such a
statement for the past 40 or
more years?
To begin with, I think it
is vital for us as Reform
Jews always to say what
we believe and to assert
what we do. This indeed
is a hallmark of Reform.
To be honest, never to
pretend what we are not,
always proudly to proc-
laim what in fact we prac-
Secondly, we need to
speak up in order to help
those fathers who wish to
maintain the Jewishness of
their children. I speak of
those instances where the
intermarriage has failed
and a divorce occurs. In-
creasingly, rabbis and lay
leaders throughout the land
have shared with me the
anguish of Jewish parents
whose non-Jewish spouses
have been given custody of
the children and then refuse

to continue to raise them as
If we are silent, the
hitherto normative position
of Judiasm holds sway and
could be invoked by the
court. Indeed, it often is.
Remember that the inter-
marriage rate now exceeds
40 percent and that the pre-
ponderant majority of in-


Jewish men. Their right to
determine the religious
character of their children
must also be secured.
Lastly, we must consider
the deep-felt feelings of the
many children of intermar-
riages — the sons and
daughters of Jewish fathers

and non-Jewish mothers —
who, barring a forthright
declaration on our part that
they are fully Jewish, are
bound to feel that somehow
they are not really Jewish.
Of course, we don't suggest
this to them, but they feel it
nonetheless. Their parents
and their teachers have told
me they do.
And when they grow up,
some of them find the
strength to speak of their si-
lent pain. Thus Adrienne
Gorman wrote me not too
long ago:
"I was raised to be
aware that some part of
me was Jewish, and that
with that birthright came
the responsibility to re-
member' the six million
victims of the Holocaust
— to remember them not
as a detached humanita-
rian who abhors exter-
mination but on a far
more fundamental level,
where the soul of the wit-
ness resides ...
"At some point over the
years I did decide that
where my father's faith —
or more precisely, heritage
— was an issue I would
without reservation take
my stand as a Jew. Jews
consider me a non-Jew,
non-Jews consider me a Jew

. . . and with a despair
tinged with as much humor
as I could muster, I began to
consider myself nothing."
How can we fail to re-
spond to such people? Why
shoud we demand that they
undergo conversion — from
what to what? Why can we
not say to the Adriennes of
this world: by God, you are a
Jew. You are the daughter
of a Jewish parent, you have
resolved to share our fate.
You are therefore, the flesh
of our flesh, the bone of our
bone. You are in all truth
precisely what you feel
yourself to be — a Jew.
The denial of such recog-
nition has caused far too
many people far too much
suffering and so we must
find a way to offer it.
I am not at all persuaded
that our actions will some-
how shatter the unity of the
Jewish people. That argu-
ment could have been made
and doubtlessly was made
at every single step in our
development as a distinc-
tive movement within
Judaism. Still our spiritual
progenitors did not wilt, the
imprecations were forgot-
ten and the Jewish world
still is whole.
Similarly, I do not
tremble that the Law of

Return will be amended
if we act as is proposed.
Its passage depends not
so much on what we do
but rather on the political
balance in Israel.
In any event, these are
really practical arguments
that have no proper place in
such a debate. Change made
to make us more acceptable
to others is alien to the
spirit of Reform. It substi-
tutes political for religious
judgments and thus does
violence to our essential na-
Our fathers and mot'-
did not forge Re a
Judaism to have us trade "it
in for a tinsel imitation of
Orthodoxy. We owe ourse-
lves that self-respect and in-
tegrity which holds fast to
our finest values and our
most cherished beliefs.
We live in a period of
crisis. We are wrestling
with our Jewish soul. The
community that can bring
forth the new passions, the
new ideas, that community
will prevail. The others
that fix themselves in old
ideas will perish, with the
new life strangled unborn
within them.
Let us have the courage
for the new, and let us
strengthen one another.

Michael Checinski's 'Poland'

Poland's Post-World War II Anti-Semitism Evaluated


Michael Checinski's "Po-
land," subtitiled "Com-
munism, Nationalism,
Anti-Semitism," has been
published by Karz - Cohl
Publishing, Inc. Sanfold B.
Cohl, one of the publishers,
is a former Detroiter who
attended Mumford High
School and the University of
The author commences
his narrative by describing
Jewish life in Poland follow-
ing World War II. He notes
that between 25,000 and
50,000 Jews survived the
war in Poland and between
250,000 and 300,000 re-
turned from the Soviet
These Jews, Checinski
points out, tried to rebuild
their lives in the land "that
had been their homeland for
10 centuries." But from the
very beginning they
encountered insurmounta-
ble difficulties resulting
from Jew-baiting, including
physical assaults and mass
riots. Anti - Semitic out-
breaks occurred in Crakow,
Radom, Czestochowa,
Kielce and elsewhere.
The most serious pog-
rom took place in Kielce
in 1946. The Jews there
were accused of abduct-

ing Christian children
and keeping them in a
cellar in the Jewish
community building. But
the investigators found
neither children nor a
The Kielce pogrom, the
author maintains, "was a
turning point marking the
beginning of the end of an
organized Jewish commu-
nity in Poland."
As a consequence of the
Kielce pogrom, the majority
of Jews left Poland and only
60,000 remained. They in-
cluded the people who con-
sidered themselves "Poles of
Jewish extraction" and
those whom Jean Paul
Sartre characterized as
"people whom others regard
as Jews."
Incredibly, at the time
Stalin announced to the
world his libelous "Doctors'
Plot" as an excuse for his
planned deportation of the
Russian Jews to Siberia and
the Arctic regions, the
Polish government already
had prepared detailed plans
for interning the Polish
Jews in a concentration
camp. However not all Poles
approved of their govern-
ment's savage scheme.
Col. Franciszek Mroz,
for instance, who was

appointed commander of
"the special internment
camp for Zionists and
hostile elements" (mean-
ing all Jews), to his ever-
lasting credit, refused to
accept the assignment.
His "insubordination,"
Checinski notes, "was
never forgiven even after
Stalin's death."
It is simply inconceivable
that some of the worst per-
secutors were Jews whom
the author describes as
"Jews of a particular type."
They included Col. Anatol
Feigin and Roman Zam-
browski. The former headed
the Department for Protect-
ing the Government; the
latter was a member of the
Once, while Feigin was
interrogating a Jewish
Communist, he asked:
"How is it that you have so
many friends among those
Ostjuden?" Likewise when
interrogating Mrs.
Lachtman, "he taunted her
for returning from Pales-
tine after the war. He
mocked her Polish patriot-
ism and told her that she
would have done better to
stay among those Yids."
Similarly, Roman Zam-
browski, notorious for his
anti-Semitic expletives,

supervised the purge of
Jews from the armed forces,
security apparatus, party
and state administration.
browski and the other
Jewish "dignitaries"
were sometime later fired
unceremoniously from
their posts, and in addi-
tion, were accused of
plotting "Jewish seizure
of power in Poland."
According to a secret
document, supposedly
found in the archives of the
Ministry of Internal Affairs,
these leading Jewish Com-
munists, like the "Elders of
Zion," allegedly at a secret
meeting passed a resolution
containing "a detailed
blueprint for subordinating
Poland to Jewish control in
the interest of world
Thus, Hilary Mine, a
former Politboro member
and deputy prime minister
"was to win control over the
national economy"; Yakub
Berman, former Politboro
member and undersecre-
, tart' of state, was to assume
"control over security and
ideological matters; Zam-
browski, a member of the
Politboro, was to become
head of the party apparatus;
the others were to gain con-
trol over all other state af-
Checinski remarks that
the "discovered" document
"contained entire passages
reprinted verbatim from the
famous Protocols of the El-
ders of Zion."
In addition to promi-
nent Jewish Com-
munists, many other

Jews were dismissed
from their jobs. Curious
were the reasons given
for their dismissals:
Dr. Adam Bromberg was
fired, arrested and accused
of crimes against the state
for allowing the inclusion of
a reference to Jerusalem,
instead of Tel Aviv, in the
world atlas that was pub-
lished under his direction.
The nuclear physicist, Dr.
L. Leszczynski, was dis-
missed "for some anti-
Polish comments allegedly
made during a conversation
in English with another sci-
A former diplomat and
senior official in the Minis-
try of Shipping was fired
and "arraigned under
trumped-up charges for
causing a collision while
under the influence of alco-
It is important to keep
in mind that a principal
aim of.the Warsaw Pact
countries, on the Soviets'
insistance, was to rid
their armed forces of
Jewish personnel. As an-
ticipated, Poland fulfil-
led this objective first
and with great alacrity.
Shortly before the Six -
Day - War in 1967, Gen.
Teodor Kufel, chief of the
Military Internal Service,
summoned to a confidential
meeting high-ranking gen-
erals, including the chief of
the General Staff, Gen.
Wojciech Jaruzelski, the
present premier of Poland.
Kufel announced in great
secrecy "that Israel was
going to be annihilated
soon, or at least suffer a

widespread civilian mas-
sacre in the regions to be
occupied by the victorious
Arab armies."
"A few days before the
outbreak of hositilites in the
Middle East, officials of the
Soviet embassy in Tel Aviv
issued special armbands to
the staffs of other Corn-
munist diplomatic missions
in Israel: they were told that
such armbands would pro-
tect them against abuses by
`irresponsible' elements,
should Tel Aviv be captured
by the Arab armies. Polish
diplomats had therefore
been forewarned that a
mass pogrom might be ar-
ranged by the victorious
Arab - armies."
The Jewish exodus from
Poland begun , after the
Kielce pogrom in 1946,
culminated in 1968, a year
after the Six Day War.
Thus the Jewish commu-
nity in Poland that had its
inception 10 centuries ago is
no more.
Michael Checinski's
"Poland" is a com-
prehensive historic re-
cord of post-World War II
Poland. It analyzes the
deep-rooted Jew-hat,—d
of the Polish peop)
brings to light the
ries, jealousies and in-
trigues of its leaders; and
exposes the Polish Com-
munists' subservience to
their Soviet overlords.
Checinski served for 20
years in the Polish military
and 10 years in military
counterintelligence. He is
currently at the Harvard
Russian Research _Center.

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