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CARMI M. SLOMOVITZ
Associate News Editor
Sabbath Scriptural Selections
This Sabbath, the 13th day of Heshvan, 5743, the following scriptural selections will be read in our synagogues:
Pentateuchal portion, Genesis 12:1-17:27. Prophetical portion, Isaiah 40:27-41:16.
Candlelighting, Friday, Oct. 29, 6:11 p.m.
VOL. LXXXII, No 9
Friday, Oct. 29, 1982
PROPHECY AND PRAGMATISM
Is there an erosion that threatens the collec- tion," nevertheless refuses to judge the present
tive status of American Jewry, and is the
situation in JeWish family life as "bleak." He
prophecy correct that American Jewry may be
believes many Jewish accomplishments are
reduced numerically to a mere fraction in a cen- still evident. He sees vitality in the Jewish Day
School movement, an awareness of Jewish obli-
In the past few decades the Jews in the Free gations in Jewish leadership, "the growth of
World, whatever the extent of it, were con- Jewish commitment among the youth, "the
fronted with a challenge — whether they can growth of the Baal Teshuva (returnees to
survive in freedom. The liberties which enabled Judaism)."
Jews to enter all spheres, academic and politi-
Because Dr. Schiff struck at the very root of
cal, the social still remaining in doubt;- aroused the problem and the needs involved, that of
strengthening the home influence and involv-
Is it possible that American Jewry, now ad- ing parents in devotions to Jewish learning, Dr.
mittedly less than 5,000,000 — contrary to Schiff's challenging declarations assume spe-
many continuing claims of 6,000,000, will re- cial significance. Therefore it is necessary to
duce so drastically that it will be infinitesimal?
quote his challenge:
The great challenge has just come from Dr.
"It is unfortunate but true, that with the ex-
Alvin I. Schiff, the executive vice president of ception of some Jewish day schools and
the Board of Jewish Education of Greater New yeshivot, Jewish parental commitment to
York. In a kick-off for Jewish Family Month in
Jewish schooling is generally less than suppor-
Oceanside, N.Y., he discussed the predicted tive. The overwhelming majority of Jewish par-
"erosion of contemporary Jewish family life" ents do not really associate themselves with the
and he posed these anticipations:
goals of the Jewish schools which their children
One out of every three Jewish children attend, and do not provide the necessary home
will be brought up by only one natural par- reinforcement for Jewish schooling. Resear-
chers in public and private education have
One out of two Jews who marry in the demonstrated that academic effectiveness is
1980s will be divorced by 1990.
doomed without support from the home and the
One out of every three children born to a community, and that family background affects
Jewish mother or Jewish father will have a pupil achievement more than any school factor.
. non-Jewish parent.
"If Jewish studies and values are to be trans-
One out of every two Jewish college stu- mitted effectively, parents must become active
dents who marry in the 1980s will marry out partners in the education of their children.
of the faith.
Quite simply, without the involvement and
One out of every five married Jewish commitment of the Jewish family, Jewish edu-
couples will have no children.
cation is doomed."
One out of every three couples will have
The emphasis is well recorded here. The chal-
only one child.
lenge was uttered at a "Jewish Family Month"
Ohe out of every two Jewish families will observance. The response needs adherence, in
not be affiliated with a synagogue or with the family circles, to Jewish obligations to every
any Jewish organization.
moment of Jewish devotional identification.
Two out of every five Jewish children will
Predictions of disappearance of Jews are chal-
receive no Jewish education and will not lengeable. The world does not permit Jews to
have a Bar or Bat Mitzva.
disappear. Jewish idealism and respect for the
Approximately 40 percent of young legacies keep Jews intact. Numbers are truly
adults in missionary and cult groups will be reducing. The Jewish birth rate is perhaps the
Jewish by birth.
lowest on record. There are other factors that
Twenty-five percent of all Jewish chil- militate as interferences with Jewish con-
dren will have severe emotional difficulties tinuity. But the idealistic have overcome the
and school problems due to broken or un- negative and they surely will again.
Indeed, it is not all "bleak." But if the aim is to
About half of all Jewish children in sub- strengthen the family, to increase the parental
urban schools will need special guidance.
interest in the child and the Jewish needs, there
Two out of every 10 teenage Jews will he must again be the pride in Jewish indestructi-
alcoholics by age 30. Currently 27 percent bility.
of all Jewish college youth are involved in
MORALITY AND IMPACT
serious alcohol and/or drug problems.
Thirty-five perCent of the membership of
Israel is in the process of judging the tragic
Alcoholics Anonymous groups in New occurrences in Beirut which, irrefutably, were
York are Jewish. •
the result of Christians having killed Moslems.
Dr. Schiff emphasizes the dramatic factor,
Yigal Yadin, world famous archeologist and
"considering that the Jewish home has been author, who was Israel's first army chief of staff,
held up as a model of family togetherness and judged the matter as an emphasis on Israel's
generally thought to be impervious to negative moral commitments, because the investigation
was the result of Israeli demands for it. He em-
Referring to a prediction by Eliahu Bergman, phasized that it is not an impact from the out-
Harvard University sociologist, that in the year side. Let this be a judgment of Israel's morality:
2076 the U.S. Jewish population will either that Israel, pursuing a code of ethics that spells
have a top figure of 900,000 or a minimal one of morality, does not need the impacts from
9,000, Dr. Schiff, calling it "a shocking revela- strange sources.
Fascination in Folklore
Enhanced by Jewish Legacies
"Melting pot" may not be the term to be equated with "folklore,"
yet it has a relationship to a most fascinating book, "A Celebration of
American Family Folklore" (Pantheon).
Israel Zangwill, who coined the term "melting pot," would have
been fascinated by the approach of folklore and the evalutive anthol-
ogy provided in this volume which was edited by Steven Zeitlin, Amy
J. Kokin and Holly Cutting Baker.
Their collective effort relates to the tales about American.
families. They were accompanied by historic photos and were re-
, corded at the Smithsonian Institutions.
The editors of the volume explain their task and the results in
this explanatory note:
"This is a book about those stories, expressions, keepsakes, and
customs which characterize family life. It is a book about Uncle Velvl,
the horse thief, lynched according to one yarn in 'Lynchburg,' Vir-
ginia; about Max Blum, pictured in a photograph as 'One Gun Blum
the Jewish Cowboy'; about Ethel Mohamed who embroidered her
memories of great storms and her peddler husband's pushcart in
cloth; about the Janneys who invented their own holiday, 'St. Grunes
"But it is also a book about some prominent themes in American
culture. The interviews we conducted with more than two thousand
family members at the Smithsonian's Festival of American Folklife
from 1974 to 1977 can help us understand how Americans interpret
their history, the subjects they celebrate in their stories, photographs
In every respect, this folkloristic work defines the many aspects
of the multitudinous American populace. In every corner of this land
there are tales about the immigrants and their background which
have served to make America such a conglomerate of thrills.
Especially exciting is the essay "The Wedding Dance" in which
Steven Zeitlin draws upon memories of a past linked with the present.
The reader will dance the Kazatzka with the essayist. The Jewish
memories of the shtetl transplanted to Philadelphia, the locale for
the Zeitlin story, will thrill in the legacies depicted.
A bit of nostalgia quoted from that essay, herewith, gives em-
phasis to the wonderful reminiscences:
"Those small children who huddled around that pot of soup and
crossed the border in an oxcart came with far more than their meager
possessions piled in their arms. They brought with them a whole
Eastern European Jewish culture, yidishkayt, including tunes,
dances and customs which had sustained generations of rabbis and
merchants in Russian-Jewish towns. They brought along with them
religious observances, festivals, foodways, a culture that was to be far
more threatened by their soon-to-be-discovered progress and wealth
than it ever was by poverty and hardship."
This excerpt is exemplary: the entire folklore volume echoes with
acclaim for the universality of this land.
Poems by a Survivor
Mendek Ribin is a survivor from Nazism. Born in Poland, he was
separated from his family as a teenager and sent to a concentration
camp. Except for a sister, his family perished in the Nazi death camps.
His approach to life in his new American environment is a de-
fiance of depression and fear. It is one of optimism and it is expressed
in a fascinating collection entitled "Why Now Now?" (Philosophical
The entire collection is an encouraging aspect of one who faced
destruction yet acclaimed faith.