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June 10, 1983 - Image 64

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1983-06-10

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Int UtIKUll itWnti)ItW)

Jewish Legislators Have Important Roles in Congress



have previously noted the
increasing number of Jews
who have been elected to
Congress — currently some
30 House members out of
435 (hopefully 31 with Sala
Burton's special election
June 21) and eight Senators'
out of 100. But numbers
alone do not tell the entire
political story in evaluating
the growing influence and
seniority of Jewish mem-
bers of ,Congress on key
committees dealing with Is-
rael and major U.S. inter-
On issues of direct con-
cern to Israel's well-being
and security, the two most
vital committees are
Foreign Relations (Foreign
Affairs in the House) and
Appropriations. Of the total
of 38 members on the House
Committee no fewer than
seven Democrats and one
Republican are Jewish,
with Steve Solarz of Brook-
lyn fifth in seniority on the
panel and chairman of the
Asian and Pacific Affairs
Subcommittee. Also, the
chairman of the African
Subcommittee is Howard
Wolpe of Michigan.
They are joined by
second-termers Sam Gej-
denson of Connecticut and
Tom Lantos of California.
On the Republican
side, veteran Ben Gilman
of upstate New York has
been enormously helpful.


But it is the three Jewish
"freshmen" on the
Foreign Affairs Commit-
tee who have so far been
stealing the show with
their energy, political
acumen and commitment
to a strong Israel as being
in the best interests of the
United States:
Mel Levine of Los
Angeles is a former Senate
aide to Sen. Johr. Tunney
and a state legislator. Soci-
able and politically savvy,
Levine is acquiring many
important friends on
Capitol Hill, and teamed on
the Near East Subcommit-
tee with Larry Smith of
Florida, they have already
made vital contributions in
raising Israel's aid levels
above Administration re-
Smith, incidentially, who
despite his name is Jewish,

had to go to great lengths to
make his Jewish con-
stituents aware of his ethnic
Not on this subcommit-
tee, but always helpful, is
another Californian, How-
ard Berman, whose leader-
ship role in the California
state legislature sharpened
his political skills.
The vital Foreign Op-
erations Subcommittee
of the House has two
Jewish members. Sid
Yates, the dean of the
Jewish members with
over 30 years on the
Appropriations Commit-
tee, is a quiet powerhouse
in the House of Represen-
tatives. His influence
with the Democratic
leadership and the re-
spect in which he is held
is enormous. Serving
with him on the subcom-
mittee is Bill Lehman of
Florida who was first
elected in 1972, and who
has been a consistent and
active friend.
On the Senate side, there
are four Jewish Democrats
and four Republicans. The
chairman of the key Foreign
Relations Committee's Sub-
committee on Near Eastern
and South Asian Affairs is
Rudy Boschwitz, Republi-
can of Minnesota.' Rudy,
who has been tireless in his
efforts on behalf of Israel, is
up for re-election next year
and faces a tough fight. This
is the most important Se-

nate race as far as the
her needs and her value to
American Jewish commu-
the United States.
* * *
nity is concerned. (We pre-
viosly cited the Clarence
With the improvement
Long race in the House as
in U.S.-Israel relations
the number one priority
following the Lebanon
accord, it is not yet time
Also on the comittee (but
to become euphoric.
not up for re-election) is Ed
Some basic differences
Zorinsky. Following his
remain between the two
disappointing pro-AWACS
countries in their ap-
vote he has been trying to be
proach to attaining
more helpful lately. He is
peace. It Is only because
ranking Democratic
the Administration's atti-
member on the Western
tude toward Israel was so
Hemisphere Affairs Sub-
negative to begin with
that by contrast the situa-
Serving on the Armed
tion looks better now.
Services Committee which
Lifting the suspension of
is more indirectly involved ranking Democrat on F-16 deliveries to Israel
with Israel-related issues is Foreign Affairs; Rep. Clar- should be viewed in this
Carl Levin, Democrat of ence Long (D-Md.), chair- light. There is still a basic
Michigan. He is the only man, and Jack lack of coordination on mili-
other Jewish Senator up for Kemp (R-N.Y.), ranking on tary and political strategy,
re-election in 1984.
Foreign Operations; Sen. and fuzzy thinking in Wash-
On the Senate Foreign Joe Biden of Deleware and ington on the future of the
Operations Subcommit-
Paul Sarbanes of Maryland, West Bank.
tee there are two Jewish senior Democrats on
What has happened is the
Republicans — Warren Foreign Relations; and reality of Arab hostility
Rudman of New Hamp- Senator Bob Kasten (R- toward both the U.S. and Is-
shire (another pro- Wis.), chairman, and Dan rael has come up against the
AWACS voter!) and Arlen Inouye (D-Hawaii), ranking naive and wishful thinking
Specter of Pennsylvania. on Foreign Operations.
of the Reagan Plan. In ef-
The former has not been
fect, Soviet intervention,
particularly involved
who are pushing through Jordanian timidity, Syrian
with the Jewish commu-
this year for Israel threats and PLO radicalism
nity or its concerns, while
totaling $850 million in have caused the Reagan
Specter has been acces-
military aid, $850 Administration to readjust
sible and helpful.
in loans and $910 its policies — for now.
Interestingly, and more
It would have been far
million in grant economic
importantly, some of Is-
more beneficial if this
rael's most staunch and inf-
readjustment had been the
luential supporters on these
As long as these people product of conscious policy,
committees are not Jewish.
are in the Congress, Israel `rather than a reaction to the
They are such champions as
will continue to have strong implacable hostility of Is:
Rep. Dante Fascell (D-Fla.), friends who recognize both rael's adversaries.


Kaplan: Young Israel, Reconstructionist Founder Marks 102nd


World Zionist Press Service


"Judaism is a civilization
that has evolved through
different stages, whose
common denominator is
neither belief, nor tenet, nor
practice, but rather the con-
tinuous life of the Jewish
This description by Prof.
Charles Liebman of the phi-
losophy of Reconstruc-
tionism captures one of the
focal points in the thought
of Dr. Mordecai M. Ka-plan.
His personal concern with
"the continuous life of the
Jewish people" has been one
of the hallmarks of Kaplan's
On June 11, Dr. Kaplan
will celebrate his 102nd
birthday. Many of the key
developments in Jewish life
today are based on concepts
which he formulated during
his long and productive
career — concepts like
Judaism as a civilization,
the organic Jewish commu-
nity, the synagogue center
and summer camp move-
ments and the public cele-
bration of Bat Mitzva.
Born in Lithuania, he

came to America with his
parents at the age of 8
when his father, Rabbi
Israel Kaplan, was
selected to be one of the-
dayanim for the chief
rabbi of New York,
Yaakov Yosef. A student
at the Jewish Theological
Seminary from the age of
12, Mordecai Kaplan was
ordained in 1902 and
began to serve as "minis-
ter" of Cong. Kehilath
Jeshurun in New York.
Later he became the rabbi
there after receiving his
semikha on a trip to Europe
in 1908. Appointed dean of
the Teachers' Institute of
the Jewish Theological
Seminary in 1909 by Sol-
omon Scheeter, Dr. Kaplan
worked there for half-a-
century, retiring in 1963.
An intellectual giant, he
was one of the key figures,
along with Judah Magnes,
Prof. Israel Friedlander and
Samson Benderly, in the
development of the various
Jewish intellectual circles
in New York before World
War I. One of his earliest
acts was the founding of the
Young Israel movement.
Wrestling with the chal-

lenge of living in "two civili-
zations," the Jewish and the
American, Kaplan began to
develop a new philosophy of
Judaism which came to be
known as Reconstruc-
tionism. He founded the
Society for the Advance-
ment. of Judaism in New
York and served as its first
rabbi. To this day it remains
the fountainhead of the Re-
construction movement.
With the publication in
the 1930s of his major
work, "Judaism as a
Civilization," Kaplan de-
lineated the basic
structure of his position,
in which he carefully de-
fines what are the ele-
ments of an "evolving
religious civilization."
This was to be developed
in his prolific writing
over many decades — a
bibliography of his
printed works on the oc-
casion of his 100th birth-
day included over 700
The Reconstructionist
Movement has for the last
15 years had its own rabbin-
ical school in Philadelphia
and a network of congrega-
tions in the U.S. and

achieved in terms dictated
by Jewish life itself." For
Kaplan, this is how "the
best of modern thought can
be fused with the perma-
nent values of the Jewish
heritage through the living
needs of collective Jewish
life." He believes in "the
power to rise above mere
passivity and subjection to
outer forces and to be, so to
speak, an unmoved mover,
self determining and crea-
With these glowing
hopes, Kaplan spent two
productive years in
Jerusalem at the Hebrew
Canada as well as the University, teaching the
Mevakshei Derekh principles of education
synagogue in Jerusalem, and helping to get the
field of education recog-
and its own journal.
In preparing for his trip to nized at the university as
Eretz Yisrael in 1937, Kap- one worthy of academic
lan wrote -an article that study. He lectured all
spring about the "Resurrec- over the country and was
tion of the Jewish Spirit." noted - for going on foot
He suggested that the "re- from his house in Re-
vival of the Jewish people" khavia to the campus on
in its own land is based on a Mount Scopus.
On his return to the U.S.
"will to life physical" and a
"will to life spiritual." The in the summer of 1939, he
Hebrew University of presented a report on
Jerusalem, of course, fell "Palestine Jewry: Its
into the second category and Achievements and
was "the instrument for Shortcomings." He noted
(Jewish) intellectual, cul- that Palestine was "begin-
tural and spiritual de- ning to give the Jews new
history, history that is not
merely cause for lamenta-
Viewing the university as tion birt one that is an epic of
facilitating "the process of creation." After stressing
synthesizing the Jewish the significance of the re-
heritage with the best in the newed Hebrew language, he
civilizations of mankind," praised the new folkways, a
Kaplan believed that only continuation of the old "tra-
in Eretz Yisrael (Palestine) ditional -legalism."
could such "a synthesis be
He referred to efforts,

especially in rural settle-
ments, by those who did not
observe the Shabat in a tra-
ditional fashion, to make
the day more than just a
cessation from work.
Still Kaplan stressed:
"The real problem is how to
create a genuine spirit of
religion that will be unmis-
takably identified as being -
in line with the highest
manifestations of that spirit
in the Jewish past."
As to the shortcomings
in the country, he noted
that he felt that Palestine
had not succeeded in re-
taining the distinctively
religious character of
Jewish civilization
through the ages. He also
regretted that Jewish law
was not evolving in a `-
modern sense (four legal
systems existed at the
time — the rabbinical, the
general Zionist courts,
the workers' courts and
the British courts).
Kaplan was also critical
of the educational structure
which had three strands to
it: the workers; the general
Zionists; and the Mizrachi.
Kaplan went on to stress
what the educational cur-
riculum should really con-
tain. "One misses in Pales-
tine education," he wrote,
"anything that would give
the child an awareness of a
Jewish people that is dis-
persed throughout the
world, and that must some-
how find a way of maintain-
ing its unity and vitality de-
spite the mighty forces of

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