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May 27, 1983 - Image 4

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1983-05-27

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THE JEWISH NEWS

(LISPS 275-•5201

Incorporating The Detroit Jewish Chronicle commencing with the issue of July 20, 1951

Copyright © The Jewish News Publishing Co.

Member of American Association of English-Jewish Newspapers, National Editorial Association and
National Newspaper Association and its Capital Club.
Published every Friday by The Jewish News Publishing Co., 17515 W. Nine Mile, Suite 865, Southfield, Mich. 48075
Postmaster: Send address changes to The Jewish News, 17515 W. Nine Mile, Suite 865, Southfield, Mich. 48075
Second-Class Postage Paid at Southfield, Michigan and Additional Mailing Offices. Subscription $15 a year.

PHILIP SLOMOVITZ
Editor and Publisher

ALAN HITSKY
News Editor

CARMI M. SLOMOVITZ
Business Manager

HEIDI PRESS
Associate News Editor

DREW LIEBERWITZ
Advertising Manager

Sabbath Scriptural Selections

This Sabbath, the 16th day of Sivan, 5743,
the following scriptural selections will be read in our synagogues.

° Pentateuchal portion, Numbers 8;1-12:16.
Prophetical portion, Zechariah 2:14-4:7.

Candlelighting, Friday, May 27, 8:40 p.m.

VOL. LXXXIII, No. 13

Page Four

Friday, May 27, 1983

GUILT AND SELF-SCRUTINY

In an era marked by painful reminders of
the barbarities under Nazism, the continuing
emphasis on truth and of the historic impor-
tance of retaining the factual records -are ac-
companied by renewal of indictments and chal-
lenges as well as soul-searching. The many as-
pects of guilt play important roles in the re-
capitulation of the tragic events. It has two as-
pects that are remote from each other: One is
the guilt of participation in or endorsement of
the crimes. The other is the self-scrutiny and
self-judgment in the challenge to both those
who resisted and the protesters, whether they
had exerted sufficient forcefulness in the battles
against Nazism.
This is where the sensationalism accom-
panying the claimed discovery of Hitler diaries
fits in, even if to a minor degree. The doubts
about the authenticity of the alleged diaries
invite greater consideration. The fully-
authenticated record of atrocities is of vaster
importance. No matter how much or how little
proof can be attached to the diaries, whether or
not they are forgeries as seems apparent after
the extensive discussions, the horrors that were
committed were Adolf Hitler's. The mass mur-
ders were the inhumanities of the Nazis. The
Holocaust was the making of Germany of the ,
Nazi period in the blood-stained history of that
country.
That aspect of guilt is inerasable and can-
not be denuded in any fashion. It was an un-
forgettable and inerasable stain on the peoptes
who both committed the crimes and encouraged
them by their silence.
- Therefore, the searching of the Jewish
hearts and those in the Christian world who
were either the victims or the protesters attains
-importance in civilized- ranks. Jewish self-
testers, who are now conducting an inquiry into
the reactions during the Nazi era, are attesting
to high moral standards among people who are
willing to admit guilt in shortcomings of actions
that were demanded in exposing the Nazi
crimes. Thus the challenge to silence emerges

on a high level of humanism.
Was there too much silence even when the
totality of Nazi criminality was placed on the
record? Was there too little resistance?
Primarily, the question of guilt related to
silence is addressed to American Jewry. Was
there too much submission to the State De-
partment's inactivity, the slowness of White
House action, the submission of Jewish leader-
ship to the demands from high government
quarters that there should be what was de-
scribed as "caution" when this nation was
engaged in a war with Nazi Germany?
Much has been discussed and written about
these issues. The Holocaust is on the record and
its horrid history is of human concern. Few re-
views of the events, of the actions of U.S. offi-
cials, of American Jewish leaders, are as
thorough as the account provided in the
analysis of the events in the 1930s and 1940s
that are provided in the special essay in this
issue by the distinguished scholar .Dr. Israel
Goldstein.
Familiar with the responsibilities of that
era, as one of the most eminent American
Jewish leaders who later, on aliya, assumed a
top role in Zionist ranks, Dr. Goldstein writes
with authority. He shows clearly that there was
some action in Jewish ranks, that men like Dr.
Stephe • S. Wise were not silent, that there was
anti-Semitism in top American ranks and they
influenced. the State Department policies.
Sumner Welles is absolved; others are accused
and are deservedly damned .
Dr. Goldstein's essay provides the desired
data in the self-searching over the guilt. It adds
one thing effectively and efficiently — that si-
lence is wrong, that as in the instance of the
Nazi curse it becomes criminal.
There was guilt. There also was courage
and fearlessness. The fact that such a self-study
is now being conducted, to delve into the records
of history during one of its most tragic periodS,
is another tribute to the morality of Jewish
ethics.

.

'

'LET MY PEOPLE G- 0 9

Thousands who marched in New- York
on Sunday, demanding the release of pris-
oners of conscience who are held in Soviet jails
as punishment for their demands to be granted
the right to emigrate, represented the senti-
ments of the entire American people. It was not
merely a Jewish demonstration. Both U.S. Sen-
ators from New York and the U.S. chief delegate
to the United Nations were among the speakers
who joined in the repeated protest against Rus-
sian persecutions.
The demand was and continues for the
right of people, according to the United Nations
basic principles and in the spirit of the civilized
ideals of mankind, to choose their place of resi-
dence. In Russia, it is much more than that. It is
a demand to seek a haven from the oppressions
that are practiced and the bias that is rampant
against Jews as Jews. .

At the assembly that followed the New
York parade and demonstration in support of
the Russian Jewish applicants for exit visas and
in defense of the prisoners of conscience, there
was a reminder that in 1979 more than 51,000
Russian Jews were granted the right to leave
their native land for havens elsewhere. This
number dropped to 2,688 in 1982 and the depar-
tees from Russia in the first four months of 1983
was 484. This is evident proof of a growing bias
and of a menacing situation.
Therefore, the repeated demand, "Let My
People Go," retains the vitality that must be
given to an effort to enable the oppressed to find
escape and to establish homes in lands of their
choice.
There is an inheritance from Czarism that
demands unified action from Christians as well
as Jews against bias.

Book Fascinatingly Links
Stage, Language and History

Nostalgia linked with history, punctuated with historic recollec-
tions, attest fascinatingly to a most remarkable book about New
York's East Side.
"From Hester Street to Hollywood" (Indiana University Press)
combines recapitulation of notable stage sagas and the notables of the
theater with memorable acclaim for the role of Yiddish in an impor-
tant era in American Jewish life.
Sarah Blacher Cohen, the editor of this volume, associate profes-
sor of English at State University of New York at Albany, proves
highly qualified for his impressive effort. Her "Saul Bellow's
Enigmatic Laughter" has already earned wide recognition. Her ear-
lier "Comic Relief: Humor and Contemporary American Literature"
in a sense served as prediction of what was to be expected in a volume
entitled "From Hester Street to Hollywood." In this collective effort
she has included essays, in addition to her own, by Nahma Sandrow,
Mark Slobin, June Sochen, Jules Chametzky, Enoch Brater, Leslie
Field, Daniel Walden, Steven J. Whitfield, Keith Opdahl, Lawrence
L. Langer, Mark Shechner, Sanford Pinsker, Alan Spiegel, R. Baird
Shuman and Bonnie Lyons.
They dealt with such topics as "Yiddish Origins and Jewish
American Transformations," "Yiddish Theater and American Thea-
ter," "Fanny Brice and Sophie Tucker: Blending the Particular With
the Universal," "The Jew in Stand-Up Comedy" and essays about
Elmer Rice, Clifford Odets and Lillian Hellman.
Of special interest is the essay by former Detroiter Mark Slobin,
who wrote on the subject "Some Intersections of Jews, Music and
Theater."
Slobin, an associate professor of music at Wesleyan University, is
the author of "Tenement Songs: The Popular Music of the Jewish
Immigrant." A full page review of this book appeared in The Jewish
News, June 25, 1982. Subsequently, he was one of the 1982 Jewish
Book Fair guest speakers. He is the son of Judith and Norval Slobin,
welly known Detroiters.
He had specialized in Afghan music and switched to the Jewish
folklore themes.
In the Sarah Blacher Cohen-edited volume, Slobin reconstructs
early Yiddish theater influences upon the general theatrical sphere,
and this quotation from his essay emphasizes the important factor of
this theme:
"In 1916 Joseph Rumshinsky was writing the score for the
operetta 'Broken Violin' (Tsebrokhene Fidele), which was to help win
him the title of The Jewish Victor Herbert.' Eager to maintain com-
plete secrecy, he presented the score privately to Boris Thomashefsky,
superstar of Yiddish theater, at the latter's country estate. A teenager
sneaked in to listen — his name was George Gershwin.
"This piquant moment can stand for an intersection of two
overlapping worlds which encompass the relationship of Jewish-
American artists to musical theater. The world of a Rumshinsky is
group-specific: songs are in a European language, sensibilities have
been trained in Old World contexts; but the composer constantly
struggles to create an international style within ethnic boundaries.
"The world of Gershwin and his Jewish colleagues lies within the
American mainstream, but occasionally suggests the world of tradi-
tion through minor keys and turns of phrase. At the point of contact of
these two musical spheres we find many intersections: countless
mutual borrowings found on 78 rpm records like 'The Yiddish Yac-
kadula Hickadula,' an imitation of the Hawaiian sound, and the
Original Dixieland Jazz Band's Talesteena Fox Trot'; or messages
from one world to another, such as Irving Berlin and Al Jolson salut-
ing the creation of the state of Israel with new songs."
"From Hester Street to Hollywood" merits extensive study and
for Yiddishists its impact will be immeasurable. This is a very excel-
lent book.

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