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April 13, 1984 - Image 7

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1984-04-13

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Friday, April 13, 1984

7

********
INVITATIONS?
Hattie Schwartz

* * *
ENTERTAINMENT?
Seymour Schwartz

*
* ,

Of Course'
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356-8525

Purely Commentary

Continued from Page 2

fect of Luther's ministrations, he had asserted,
would be to give a voice to German revolu-
tionaries: "Liberty will be able to speak
everywhere, and its language will be Biblical."
Mendelssohn, who translated the Pentateuch
into German against rabbinical protest, but who
nevertheless remained an Orthodox Jew bound
by Talmudic precepts, is therefore presented,
with scant historical justification, as the Luther of
German Jewry.
This is not, it should be remembered, Heine's
own invention: the Protestant preacher Daniel
Jenisch, in a biographical sketch prefixed to a
collection of Moses Mendelssohn's writings in
c, 1789, had called him "the Luther of the Jews (for
what else was Mendelssohn for that nation but the
torch-bearer of the Enlightenment) . ."
Of the many caricatures in this volume, there are
Heinesque attitudes on the scores of personalities included
chronologically, as well as pawnbrokers, peddlers, old
clothes men, shopkeepers, rabbis, brothers, bankers,
speculators. They are not all complimentary, yet they por-
tray a gallery of Jews of all characterizations.
For a complete understanding and evaluation of
Heine's background and Jewish training, Prawer includes
, a lengthy excerpt from a biography of Heine by Jeffrey L.
Sammons. It is an illuminating account and needs to be
Heinrich Heine
- known by all who will surely question how Heine arrived at
such deep knowledge of Jewish history, traditions, per-
had a bar mitzvah or was even exposed to the rites
sonalities, confrontations. The excerpt from Sammons
and customs of the observant Jew. In fact he
r states:
makes errors in simple Jewish matters of a kind
(At the age of six, Heine) was placed in a com-
that would not be usual for one with a traditional
munal Hebrew school run by a distant relative of
upbringing.
the family named Rintelsohn. It is not easy to say
"During his student days he undertook an ex-
how much he learned in this school. One of the
tensive study of Jewish history and tradition, and
deepest students of his Jewish environment
it is likely that most of what he knew derived from
thinks it probably was not much and that the time
that experience rather than from his boyhood. It
would have been taken up largely by relating
is true that he was very firm in the Bible — in
midrashic legends, which would have suited
Luther's translation, of course — and that his
young Heine perfectly. In the greatest of his late
interest in it increased as the years went by. But
Hebrew Melodies he ascribes to the poet Jehuda
Luther's Bible has always been a fundamental
ha-Levi a youthful preference for the holiletic
resource for German writers, and Heine differs
and parabolic narratives of the Talmud to its legal
from the usual pattern perhaps only by a some-
disputation, which very likely reflects his own
what greater emphasis on the Old Testament."
boyhood inclination.
I hope that a chronological survey of Heine's
It is doubtful that he even learned to read
portrayal of Jews and Judaism will help to trace,
Hebrew with any facility. He knew some words
among other things, the evolution of his attitudes
and phrases, naturally; he could remember part
to a community to which his immediate family
of a verb paradigm, which he built into a joke in
never ceased to belong, and to throw some light
The Book of LeGrand, and he could write the cur-
on the way in which Jewishness remained a sig-
sive script, which he employs very occasionally
nificant factor in his thought and feeling even
for a word or two in his letters. But his translitera-
after his formal acceptance into the Protestant
tions of Hebrew phrases are often wildly faulty
Church.
and,- when he needed a translation of sections
So much remains to be alluded to and analyzed in the
from the Passover service, he had to ask a friend
Prawer
biography that this reviewer must terminate it
to do it for him.
here with an apology. Even the drama of the popular Heine
This raises, for Professor Sammons and for
song, Die Lorelei, which had become like a national anthem
us, the question of the quality of Jewish life in
for the Germans and from which the Nazis had erased the
Heine's paternal home. His mother had become
poet's name, retaining its authorship as "Anonymous,"
hostile to Orthodox Judaism after early clashes
must be left for another consideration.
with the Jewish community in Dusseldorf, though
Suffice to say that the Prawer biography, 800 pages,
she never formally abandoned the faith into
selling for $84, is worth every penny. It is a great, great
which she had been born. Her son soon found
book, marked by unmatched scholarship.
himself, to quote Professor Sammons yet again,
"on one side of a rather rapid generational transi-
tion."
"His father appears to have been conven-
tionally if sincerely pious, though at the end of his
memoir-fragrgent Heine tells us that his father
advised him against the appearance of atheism
New York (JTA) — At the seeking to file a formal ap-
because it would be bad for business; further ,
more, Samson Heine was apparently a Freema-
initiative of Rep. Mel plication with the IOC for
son, which he certainly could not have been if this
Levine (D-Calif.), the Inter- participation in the Sum-
orthodoxy had still been intact. Uncle Salamon
national Olympic Commit- mer Games. Israel will be
was certainly strongly committed to the Jewish
tee (IOC) has been urged in fielding a team of at least 25
community, which he supported generously and
a letter signed by 54 mem- athletes in Los Angeles.
The head of the PLO's
to which he left a variety of significant legacies in
bers of the House to reject
his will. But in that same document he excused his
any application by the sports and youth organiza-
son from all memorial rituals, including the
Palestine Liberation tion, Ahmed Khoudoua,
`kadish' which, of course, he had no right in
Organization to participate was quoted last month in
Jewish law to do. The ambitious social climbing of
in the 1984 Summer Olym- media reports as saying the
the PLO's intention is to en-
the family naturally presupposed conversion to
pic Games in Los Angeles.
Christianity by all hands, and Salamon must have
Declaring that "recogni- able the participation of a
regarded this circumstance with equanimity,
tion of the PLO" by the IOC Palestinian team through
though in fact his own son resisted it.
"would be morally repug- sports organizations that
"There are anecdotes indicating that Heine
nant and inconsistent with already recognize the PLO.
A team representing
the International Olympic
was raised to keep the Sabbath, and his evident
Committee's charter," the "Palestine" was allowed to
familiarity with the Passover 'Seder,' so effec-
letter, released Monday in participate last August in
tively described in The Rabbi of Bacherach,
suggests the probability that it was celebrated in
Washington stated: "The the Helsinki world athletics
PLO represents neither a championship. A qualifica-
his home. Heine remarked there that even re-
geographical area nor the tion for IOC membership is
negade Jews are moved in their hearts when they
recognition by five different
Palestinian people."
hear the melody of the Passover ritual; very likely
The California Represen- and independent interna-
he was thinking of himself. There is no other evi-
tative was reportedly "very tional sports federations, a
dence that the family was observant.
upset" following media re- qualification which Ander-
"Heine nowhere mentions celebrating any
sen said the PLO has met.
ports that the .
PLO was
holy days and there is no indication that he ever
. ,
`. ; •
:‘ _

Reps urge IOC to reject
PLO team at '84 Games

— Of Course!







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