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September 10, 1982 - Image 17

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1982-09-10

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Boris Smolar's

Between You
. . . and Me'

Emeritus, JTA

(Copyright 1982, JTA, Inc.)
A DRAMATIC STORY: A dramatic story is told by a
prominent Jewish leader of how he courageously fought for
life, for several years, with an incurable form of leukemia
and triumphed over this cancerous disease which the medi-
cal world considers fatal.
The leader is Morris A. Abram, former president of the
American Jewish Committee and of Brandeis University,
and former U.S. representative to the United Nations
Commission on Human Rights. He is highly esteemed not
only in the Jewish world but also among non-Jews in this
country as one who is in the vanguard of the liberal wing of
the Democratic Party. He tells his story in a book just
published under the title "The Day is Short" (Harcourt
Brace Jovanovich).
His remarkable battle in
facing a killer, and his vic-
tory, is now considered an
important part of medical
history. It is attributed by
medical experts to a great
extent to his strong will to
live. The Jewish leader de-
scribes frankly and
meticulously the complex
treatment he has under-
gone, and the feelings of a
man who was told by medi-
cal experts that his death
was imminent. He speaks
candidly of his confronta-
tion in order to stimulate
courage and hope for the many thousands of people afflicted
with this malady.
Most interesting in his book is the review of his life. He
started to look into his past when he was told that he was a
dying man. He begins his memoirs with the years of his
boyhood in the small town of Fitzgerald, Ga., where he was
Young Abram — who later became one of the leading
figures fighting for the rights of the Black population in the
South — grew up at odds with life around him in Fitzgerald,
a community where the atmosphere was entirely Baptist.
CREDO FOR JEWISHNESS: From his book we
learn that it was Dr. John Slawson, now executive vice
president emeritus of the American Jewish Committee,
who developed Abram's interest in matters Jewish.
It was Dr. Slawson who "discovered" him in Atlanta
where he was a practicing lawyer who took an interest in
the activities of the local branch of the AJCommittee. A
psychologist, one of the most prominent Jewish social,
workers, Dr. Slawson saw in Dr. Abram "good timber" for a
coming national president of the AJCommittee. He in-
spired Abram to move to New York City where he became a
partner in a prominent law firm and served for more than
four years as AJCommittee president.
Abram asserts that under Dr. Slawson the word'
"Jewish" received equal emphasis with the word "Ameri-
can," and that the AJCommittee became "a redemptive
movement" in Jewish life for many such as himself. He
points out that the organization's programs made identifi-
cation possible for the Jew who was integrated into
America but not necessarily drawn to a religious obser-
vance. He makes it clear that he is not a religious man and
has been officially known as a non-Zionist, but he adds that
since the mid-1940s he had been fully committed to the
importance and necessity of the Jewish state.
MAKING JEWISH HISTORY: with his philosophy
of Jewishness, Abram played no small role in making con-
temporary Jewish history. He reveals in his book details on
the role he played in the negotiations with the Vatican for
securing the momentous declaration absolving Jews from
guilt of deicide. He relates how he and Dr. Slawson met in
Rome with Pope Paul VI and in New York with Cardinal
Spellman, and was told by the latter — in the presence of
Dean Rusk, who was then U.S. Secretary of State — that he
considers the deicide charge as "absurd."
"The Day is Short" — the title of Abram's book — is
taken by the author from saying of the Hebrew sages: "The
day is short and the work is great, it is not your duty to
complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from
it." This remains Abram's credo for the rest of his life in-his
fight for liberal ideas, for human rights and against racial
and religious prejudice in any form. The book is contempor-
ary Jewish history, in addition to stimulating hope and
courage among the many thousands afflicted with fatal

* * *

Correction: In 'Between You and Me" on Sept. 3, there
were two references to United Jewish Appeal meetings for
contributors of $1 million. The meetings are for contribu-
tions of $100,000 and more.

Israel's Tactics May Aid
U.S. Against Soviet Union

Strategic cooperation be-
tween Israel and the U.S.
could counter Soviet
supremacy in Central
Europe and contribute to
Western security, according
to Joseph Churba, head of
the U.S.-based Center for
International Security.

"Were Israel's technolog-
ical innovations and tactics
grafted onto our own capa-
bility, it is conceivable that
the U.S. and the West could
neutralize Soviet supre-
macy on the central front by
conventional means alone,
reducing the need for tacti-
cal nuclear weapons in
Europe," Churba told re-
porters in Tel Aviv recently.
Churba, who recently res-
igned from a senior post in
the State Department's
Arms Control and Dis-
armament Agency, said
Operation Peace for
Galilee's contribution to

Friday, September 10, 1982 11

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