THE JEWISH NEWS
A Weekly Review
Commentary, Page 2
of Jewish Events
Out of the
Rises a Renewed
Editorials, Page 4
Copyright © The Jewish News Publishing Co.
VOL. LXXXII, No. 22
17515 W. Nine Mile, Suite 865, Southfield, Mich. 48075 424-8833
$15 Per Year: This Issue 35c
January 28, 1983
Curbs on U.S. Aid for Israel
Denied by State Department
Blind Rabbi Gives Credit
to Jewish Braille Institute
By DAVID EVANIER
Jewish Braille Institute
NEW YORK — "We're fighting those thousands of years of his-
tory," said Rabbi Michael Levy, who was ordained by the Jewish
Theological Seminary in 1981 and is believed to be the first rabbi to
have been born blind. "And we're fighting the fact that blindness is the
second most feared condition, next to cancer, in the U.S.
"When a sighted person thinks about me, he thinks about what it
was like the first time the lights went out, and the panic he felt. Of
course, the first time you do anything, it's hard. So what? We have to
get beyond the panic that people associ-
ate with the life of blind persons."
Recalling his childhood, Rabbi Levy
said, " The first (Jewish incident) that I
remember happened to me when a very
old man came from the synagogue to
teach me the Shema. He spent an hour
and a half drilling it into me. The feeling I
got was that he felt this was all I would
ever be able to do in Judaism.
"But I was lucky. My parents
found out about the Jewish Braille
Institute. When I was five and just be-
ginning Hebrew school, they spoke to
the director. There was no question in
their minds that I was entitled to a
Jewish education, just like a sighted
"My parents got the assurance that there was no reason why I
shouldn't go to Hebrew school," Rabbi Levy continued. "Following that,
It was just a matter of different tools. I read Braille, they read print. I
wrote Braille, they wrote print. I learned my Haftorah in Braille. It's
really quite simple after you get over the initial hurdle of attitude. It's
common sense. If you're short, and there's a kitchen cabinet that's high,
you get a ladder and stand on it."
(Continued on Page 8)
WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Reagan Administration has rejected reports that it is consid-
ering cutting off aid to Israel in an effort to achieve a "speedier withdrawal" of Israeli forces from
Lebanon. "The U.S. remains extremely concerned over the slow pace of the negotiations
aimed at achieving the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Lebanon," State Department
spokesman John Hughes said.
But he stressed that Secretary of State George Shultz has "on a number of occasions
made it clear" that he opposes using threats of withholding aid. But the State Depart-
ment urged the postponement of Israel Prime Minister Menahem Begin's visit to Wash-
ington next month until after there is an Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon.
Hughes refused to comment directly on a report by syndicated columnists Rowland Evans
and Robert Novak in the Washington Post in which they said that the National Security Council
and the State and Defense departments have drafted a document, ready for the President's
signature, to cut off military aid as a means of forcing an Israeli withdrawal.
President Reagan vowed Tuesday night to continue his efforts for Mideast peace as outlined
in his Sept. 1 peace initiative. In his State of the Union address, devoted chiefly to economics,
Reagan noted, "I outlined principals to carry on the peace process begun so promisingly at Camp
(Continued on Page 5)
Fisher Seeks Apolitical Jewish Agency
Taking into account the discussions at the recent World Zionist Congress
of the role of the Jewish Agency in relation to the Zionist representation,
Detroiter Max M. Fisher, as chairman of the Agency Executive Committee,
announced that a review of the current status will be the aim of the meetings
scheduled in Jerusalem for June 19-24.
Fisher, speaking in behalf of the "New Zionists," as he termed the
non-Zionist representation in the Agency, asserted that unity remains a
main objective and he declared that it will be the continuing objective in
support of Israel and her needs.
Declaring that "history and Zionism have convinced me that
Jewish unity is the key to Jewish survival and I will not willingly see
our great affiance weakened in any way," Fisher stated: "If a change
would come about, because we have the moral courage to bring it
about, it might not be necessary to maintain, indefinitely, two separate
bodies within the reconstituted Jewish Agency."
Fisher's statement implies ,criticism of some of the events that occurred at
the World Zionist Congress in December. With "unity" as the chief objective,
(Cdntinued on Page 19)
Tu b'Shevat — The
New Year of Trees
By RABBI BERNARD RASKAS—Seven Arts Features
A beautiful Jewish festival begins tonight, bearing the
lovely_name "The New Year of the Trees." The reason for
this is that the. opening mishna, the very first passage in
the Talmud volume of Rosh Hashana, begins this way:
"There are four Rosh Hashanas and the Rosh Hashana for
trees is on the 15th day of Shevat."
So it is that this day came to be celebrated on the
Jewish calendar as a minor festival. Ashkenazic Jews
commemorated it by eating 15 kinds of fruit and reciting
15 pslams. The Sephardic community has a special set of
hymns and poems that deal with trees, fruit and the pro-
duce of the land and they are recited on this day. In Israel,
the celebration is more direct and practical. The children go
out into the fields and plant trees.
It is interesting that unique to the Jewish tradi-
tion is a sensitivity to trees as well as all nature. The
Bible in Deuteronomy 20:19 compares the life of a tree
to the life of a person. The tree, like a human being,
comes from a seed: it grows, it breaths, it lives and it
dies. Sometimes it lives out its alloted span and dies at
a ripe old age and sometimes through accident or
A citizen of Jerusalem prepares to plant a young
sapling on Tu b'Shevat.
disease it dies prematurely. Sometimes it-becomes ill
and the doctor — botanist — has to treat it medically.
The subject of trees occupies significant portions of the
Talmud. We are instructed on how to deal with the fruits of
(Continued on Page 64)
Saplings planted on past Tu b'Shevat holidays are
part of the JNF Jerusalem Forest.