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February 17, 1984 - Image 2

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1984-02-17

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2

Friday, Feburary 17, 1984

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Purely Commentary

Recalling Wendell Willkie,
Applying His Idealism
to Principled Americanism

Wendell Willkie advocated a "One World" principle as
an aspiration for a cooperative universalism. He expressed
it when he was a candidate for President as the Republican
opponent of Franklin)/ Roosevelt. He defined it in a book
under that title.
It has not materialized. That does not make "One
World" a failure. It remains an American ideal. The aspira-
tion continues for a kind of amity that spells humanism on
the highest level.
Now the world is almost totally at war, and what is
happening in the Middle East tears hearts asunder. Yet the
aspiration for peace is an obligation. The quest for goodwill
is uppermost and demands adherence and never turning
rancorous.
The many roles this nation has in foreign involve-
ments also have their effects on the sentiments among
many Americans. That's where the necessity arises that
acrimony should not add to a divisiveness harmful to the
aims for a better world.
The Middle East is a most serious factor in the foreign
involvements and it would be tragic if hatreds here were to
supplement whatever discords call for solutions.
Monthly Detroit magazine, in its current issue, carries
a lengthy article on the Arab communities_in our midst.
There are several among them. Whatever unpleasant situ-
ations may have arisen, there is little, fortunately, to indi-
cate that the trend is toward an "Arab-Jewish war." There
are differing views, and since there have been efforts for
dignified discussions, permitting differing views, such a
situation will hopefully be experienced as a continuity.
A lesson in cooperative living and in responsible
treatment of national and foreign affairs with an aim to
create the associative rather than the disruptive is pro-
vided in a Michigan experience.
With an allusion to the establishment by Wayne State
University of an Arabic Studies Center, The Jewish News,
editorially, urged caution in the treatment of human rela-
tions, with a major objective of avoiding submission to
rumors and suspicions which lead to hatred. The editorial
concluded: "The American ideal remains rooted in the de-
termination that there shall never be comfort here for
bigotry." The support this received from the president of
Wayne State University, Dr. David Adamany, is hearten-
ing. In an impressive comment on this editorial appeal, Dr.
Adamany wrote:
To the representatives of Arab governments
who have visited me, I have carefully explained
that Wayne State University is a constitutionally
autonomous university. Funds given to us, cur-
riculum, and faculty appointments remain wholly
within the jurisdiction of our Boards of Gover-
nors, and we do not accept funds with conditions
relating to these matters, to matters of faith, na-
tionality or race, or to political belief or activity.
This has been well understood by those represen-
tatives.
To members of
both the Jewish and
Arab communities in
this area, I have ex-
pressed the view that
cultural studies cen-
ters are important for
both students and our
community. Such pro-
grams re-enforce the
opportunities for stu-
dents to become
aware of their own
culture and traditions;
and for students out-
side those traditions,
there is an opportunity
to learn about them.
DAVID ADAMANY
In addition, how-
ever, I have stressed that in this community, as
your editorial points out, 70,000 Jews and 200,000
Arabs will live together, side by side, hopefully in
peace, for generations to come. It would be enor-
mously constructive if Wayne State University
could provide outreach programs which would
explain these cultures to all people in the met-
ropolitan area, thereby to foster understanding
and acceptance.
Your editorial demonstrates so well the
willingness of both Arabs and Jews in this com-
munity to appreciate and respect one another's
cultures. And your editorial, by diminishing fear
of an Arab Studies Center at Wayne State Univer-
sity, has advanced that openness a long step.
These assertions are of more than passing interest.
They are the views of a noted academician who takes into
account important community realities, ascribing them to
the human experiences that spell responsibilities in the

`One World' Dream That Stemmed from the Wendell
Willkie Idealism Continues as an Obligatory Legacy
for Americans, Especially in Traditional Pluralism

treatment of the cultural values of the American commu-
nity.
Simply evaluated, what Dr. Adamany calls attention
to is a basic fact that in an area where an overwhelming
Arab settlement can live in harmony with a much smaller
Jewish neighborhood, their roles are applicable to the vas-
tly larger community, whose pluralism can and must spell
the vaster basis for an Americanism that should defy divi-
siveness.
Such experiences can and must apply to mankind at
large. Tragically, it is a lesson difficult to learn. Therefore,
the tragedy that is the Middle East with an emphasis on
Beirut, the Caribbean, the intrusions of foreignism and
hatreds.
Are the experiences in Michigan the lessons for man-
kind? If they could only be properly applied!

Functioning Landmarks
in Judea and Samaria

On the calendar and in the record of accumulating
controversies in the Middle East, the question of settle-
ments continues to be a thorn for speculating media ad-
ministrators and manipulating "statesmen."
In the process, the matter relating to the much-abused
theories about "settlements" continue to irritate the con-
cerned.
There is no doubt that the issue is serious, yet it must
be acknowledged that it is also so confused. It must be
clarified, believing as the serious-minded must that a solu-
tion could be at hand and that a clarification is always vital.
Even if one must go back to November 1978, an

Gershom Scholem

authoritative statement must not be ignored. At that time,
Prof. William O'Brien of Georgetown University pointed
out:
The fact is that, while not strictly bound by
the traditional international law of belligerent
occupation, Israel has maintained an occupation
on the West Bank that is fully consonant with the
principles of international law and natural jus-
tice. The settlements on the West Bank are not
"illegal." The manner in which the lands for the
settlements have been acquired is violative
neither of international law nor of human rights.
What really is the status of land ownership in Judea-
Samaria, the area affected by the "settlements" dispute?
The actual figures are presented by the Israeli Ministry of
Foreign Affairs in the following chart:

LAND OWNERSHIP IN JUDEA-SAMARIA
Acres
Pct. of Total
Privately owned
975,000
70%
State lands
174,000
13%
No clear title
125,000
9%
Absentee landowners
107,000
8%
1,381,000
100%

"Looking at the record" is a duty, with emphasis on the
media. That's the source whence stems much of the trouble
that leads to distortions. From media to diplomacy and the
minds of people directed toward fairness — such is the road
leading to common sense and understanding obviating
animosities.

Revealing the Kabbala

By DVORA WAYSMAN

World Zionist Press Service

JERUSALEM — There
was a time when the word
"Kabbala" — Jewish mysti-
cism — was only whispered.
It was said that if you delved
into it without the proper
preparation, meaning
years, or even decades, of
scholarly study of the Bible
and Talmud, you could go
mad.
What was contained in
the Zohar, the Book of
Splendor or Radiance, be-
longed to the moonlit land-
scape of mysticism and the
occult, and its secrets —
rendered in difficult
Aramaic — could be learned
only within the confines of
certain sects of the Hasidic
movement.
Then along came a man
who was no mystic, in fact,
not even a religious Jew in
the accepted sense . . . but
who made the secrets of
Kabbala available to all
who wished to read them.
The late Prof. Gershom
Gerhard Scholem spent
63 years of his life con-
structing a history and
bibliography of Jewish
mysticism, translating
the Zohar and other
Kabbalistic works into
English. This year marks
the 50th anniversary of
his appointment as Pro-
fessor of Jewish Mysti-
cism at the Hebrew Uni-
versity of Jerusalem and
two years since his death,
Feb. 21, 1982.
During his lifetime he
published 40 volumes and
nearly 700 studies on this
subject. He saw himself as
an historian and studied the
mystic texts as historical
documents.
According to Prof. Joseph
Dan, his former student and
colleague, he once said: "All
I found were scattered,
shabby pages and I trans-
formed them into history."
One of his most important
achievements was the
translation into English of

By Philip L,
Slomovitz

GERSHOM SCHOLEM

the Zohar. Although it has
made it possible for anyone
with enough curiosity to
read it, it does not mean
that they will understand it.
It is actually a running
commentary on the Pen-
tateuch, but the Scriptural
words soar upwards in
esoteric fancy.
You read of worlds be-
yond worlds, hidden
meanings, numbers and
names that have super-
natural power, hosts of
both angels and demons.
Despite its accessibility
today because of Prof.
Scholem's work, it is still
a study for the few.
Jewish mysticism is out-
side the main line of our
tradition, and has no
bearing on Halakha —
Jewish law. Yet for its fol-
lowers, it has had a
marked influence on
thought and conduct.

In the Middle Ages, Safed
was the seat of Jewish mys-
ticism and the names of
many famous rabbis are
linked to Kabbalistic writ-
ing and study. While many
studied the Zohar with de-
light, others rejected it as
confusing and destructive.
It contains both great
poetry and vision and dark
parabolic allegories,
dynamically charged with
strange energy. The origin
of Kabbala is still obscure

although many scholars
attribute it to Rabbi Simeon
ben Yohai in the Second
Century, while others
maintain this was just a
compilation of even older
material.
In Prof. Scholem's intro-
duction to the Zohar, he
states that the Zohar estab-
lished itself for three cen-
turies (1500-1800 CE) as a
source of revelation equal in
authority to the Bible and
Talmud. It made its way out
of "an almost, complete,
hardly penetrable anonym-
ity and concealment."
Eventually it was regarded
as a sacred text supplement-
ing the more traditional
ones on a new level of reli-
gious consciousness.
Written as a series of
treatises, the Zohar
seems to be interpreta-
tions of biblical passages,
and in parts an ancient
Midrash. Sections are
called "Midrash ha-
Neelam" (The Secret
Midrash) and "Sitre To-
rah" (Secrets of the To-
rah).

This fascination with
Jewish mysticism was a
lifetime study for Gershom
Scholem, born in Berlin in
1897. He received his PhD
from the University of
Munich for his thesis on
Sefer ha-Bahir, the earliest
known Kabbalistic text. An
ardent Zionist, he came on
aliya in 1923. Ten years
later he was appointed pro-
fessor of Jewish mysticism

at the Hebrew University.
Mainly due to his work and
scholarship, a basic under-
standing of Kabbalistic
symbolism has become a
prerequisite for, any serious
study of Jewish theology.
He retired in 1965 after
many Israeli and foreign
honors had been heaped C) _
him, receiving the Israel
Prize for Jewish studies in
1958. After his death in
1982, the Hebrew Univer-
sity established the Ger-
shorn Scholem Center for
the study of Kabbala, which
maintains his unique li-
brary (23,000 volumes on
Jewish mysticism). There
are now three generations
of scholars working in this
field in Israel: Prof.
Scholem's own students; his
students' students; and now
their students.
A scholar and an histo-
rian, Prof. Scholem was
single-minded, never de-
viating from his study of
Kabbalistic texts. His pri-
vate library reflects the
same intensity '= every
book is connected to this
subject and .nothing else.
He has been an inspira-
tion to many (Chaim
Potok's best-selling novel
"The Book of Lights" pur-
portedly portrays him in fic-
tional form.) Even though,
for many of us, we are no
closer to understanding the
Kabbala he has bequeathed
to everyone the ability to
read from these once-secret
texts.

Plight of Syrian Jews Protested

NEW YORK — Cong.
Shaare Zion in Brooklyn
was the site of a city-wide
gathering last week to pro-
test the plight of the Syrian
Jewish community..

Sen. Daniel Patrick
Moynihan (D-N.Y.), Rep.
Stephen Solarz (D-N.Y.)
and Rep. Charles Schumer
(R-N.Y.) joined more than

1,500 members of Brook-
lyn's Syrian Jewish popula-
tion at the gathering. Rabbi
Abraham Hecht of Cong.
Shaare Zion called on the
United States government
to urge Syrian President
Hafez Assad to permit the
emigration of those Jews in
Syria who wish to leave the
country and to protect those
who wish to remain.

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