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April 27, 1984 - Image 2

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1984-04-27

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2

Friday, April 27, 1984

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

PURELY COMMENTARY

PHILIP SLOMOVITZ

Linguistic attachments as sources of patriotism . . . preserving the records

During World War II, a puzzle emerged.
How is patriotism to be measured? What causes people
to be deeply devoted to the loyalties they acquired as a
heritage from grandparents and great-grandparents?
The question puzzled many who heard and witnessed
German Jews, even as exiles under Nazism, speaking
passionately about German culture, the German language
and its literature.
Many retained those loves even as escapees from Hit-
lerism in Israel. In the United States and elsewhere, refu-
gees from the barbarism that was proclaimed in German
retained a love for the language and what it represented in
literature and music.
Is there an explanation for it? One emerges in a report
from East Germany, marked by most interesting revela-
tions about the patriotic love now being tested and those
promulgating it. The current status of Jews in East Ger-
many is described in an article from East Berlin, in theNew
York Times, April 11, entitled Two Berlins and Two
Worlds of Jews" by the well known NYTimes correspon-
dent James M. Markham.
While it was generally believed that there were only
450 Jews left in East Berlin, Markham states that there are
at least 14 times as many, and he gives a 6,500 figure. The
disparity may be considered as explaining the remoteness
3f East Berlin Jews from Jews and Judaism.
Attention also should be given to the fact that East
Germany does not give reparations to sufferers from
Nazism.
Markham points out in his study of the contrasting
situations in the two Berlins:

The East German state takes good care of its
dwindling population of Jews — which official
figures put at about 400 people in the whole coun-
try — and provides an annual $65,000 subsidy to
the East Berlin group. Even so, this has not been
enough to maintain the sprawling 118-acre Weis-
sensee cemetery and its 115,000 graves or to re-
build the shattered synagogue on Oranien-
burgerstrasse .
Where does the loyalty of German Jews, in either or
both states, enter into this discussion? Markham's
NYTimes article includes this case history:
"The day of German Jewry is over," said Yit-
zhak Pruschnowski, a television producer at
Radio Free Berlin in the western side of the di-
vided city. "What we have today is simply Jews in
Germany."
Born in Berlin in 1926, Mr, Pruschnowski
outlasted the war in the Polish forests around
Lublin before making his way to Israel. "But in
the Jewish State of Israel, I, as a Jew, felt like a
stranger," he said, explaining his return to a Ger-
many where he still does not "feel good in my
skin."
"There is, despite everything, a feeling of
something like homeland here," he said. "I am
rooted to the language and culture here — not to
the people.
Such are the loyalties and they cannot be ignored.
The euphemism can be stretched into many spheres
and many lands. It explains the loyalty to Yiddish that is
unconquerable even under the most tragic conditions
under which the language of the Jewish masses is suffer-
ing.
Tragically, Germans may never have appreciated how
much Jews had done for the German language. They took it
with them wherever they traveled and made it compulsory
in many areas, even under conditions of horror. They
helped perpetuate it in the Germanized functions of Yid-
dish.
Philology has an interesting lesson in the devotions
thus defined. A love for music and literary qualities lends
power to patriotism as well.
Perhaps Yiddish will continue to benefit from similar
cultural and linguistic patriotism.

Preserving the records:
American Jewish Archives
forefronting the needs

Commendable labors are being exerted in the urgent
task of preserving the historic records of American Jewry.
The current impressive achievements evident in the
accumulation of data about Michigan Jewry, exhibited at
the Detroit Historical Museum, emphasize recognition of
the need to assure the chronicling of the events that were
e kperienced during more than a century of activities, and
i 1 assuring that the personalities who formed the cast of

A Magen David Adorn gift
and a lesson in good will

Dr. Jacob Marcus
Guiding spirit of the American Jewish Archives

characters in this process is on the scene again, in memory
as well as in recorded history.
The Detroit Historical Society has an act in this
dramatic task, and the American Jewish Historical Society
is major in the tracing of the records.
Therefore, the pioneers in the total undertaking gain
recognition that leads toward the totality that is vital in
writing history.
On the agenda in such projected labors is the aim
eventually to witness the completion of history-writing
about Detroit Jewry and the related facts about all Michi-
gan Jewish communities.
Playing a leading role in achieving these aims is the
American Jewish Archives, the movement's functions hav-
ing been assured by Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati
(now having the merged name of Hebrew Union College-
Jewish Institute of Religion) and the Union of Atmierican
Hebrew Congregations. Its guiding spirit as a creative force
for the Archives, Dr. Jacob R. Marcus, has several decades
of achievements, and the historic treasures he has
preserved continue as a lasting tribute to his genius as
historian, author and one of the nation's most brilliant
lecturers. He now has as his associate in directing the
American Jewish Archives the able scholar and chronicler
Dr. Abraham J. Peck.
Attention to those aims and aspirations is inspired by
another very vital joint Marcus-Peck literary product just
issued by University Press of America under the title
Studies in the American Jewish Experience.
In the second volume in
this series appear recollec-
tions about the most notable
in American Jewish ranks.
East European immigra-
tion records, the Jewish as-
pects in the Scopes Trial,
the effects of the World War
I crisis in the then well
known Kuhn-Loeb finan-
cial force, are among the
over-all subjects under
scrutiny. Then there are the
famous personalities under
review. Horace Kallen,
Ludwig Lewisohn, as well
as the two dominant factors
in Labor Zionism and sub-
Dr. Abraham Peck
sequently Israel — David
Ben-Gurion and Yitzhak Ben-Zvi — emerge anew in
American Jewish history.
These facts are so vital for an understanding of Ameri-
can Jewish developments that the volume that calls atten-
tion to such factors has great significance.
Therefore, the need to give emphasis to the American
Jewish Archives as a major force in history writing and
preservation. To Jake Marcus goes a special acclaim for an
inerasable role in Jewish history. The inspiration thus
provided for Jewish scholarship invites gratitude from the
generations.

A fairly generous gift to the Magen David Adom, the
Israel equivalent of the Red Cross, was accompanied this
week by an interesting story about a lawsuit and how it was
resolved, the contribution to the American Red Magen
David emerging as the gainee.
Dr. Milton Steinhardt, the local psychiatrist who had
leadership in Zionist movements and as president of the
Detroit Zionist Federation, is also a letter writer. He had
written to one of the local newspapers protesting a number
of derogatory articles which he condemned as harmful to
American-Israel relations. Thereupon he began to receive
threatening phone calls. They were endless and the an-
tagonist even gave his name, making it a personal dispute.
They became so aggravating that the police were asked to
intervene and a libel suit ensued.
The court action brought in the sons of the antagonized
and the antagonizer, both lawyers. They not only tackled
the case but became good friends. The suit was resolved
with the gift from the nuisance phone caller, which this
week brought the gift to Magen David Adorn, while erasing
from the records the lawsuit.
Dr'. Steinhardt, in his dual role as psychiatrist and
Zionist activist, has a double view of the outcome of this
interesting incident: First, that it allows for free expression
of differing views, as long as it is not leading to violence;
and, second, perhaps the second generation, as was indi-
cated in the resolution of the incident, will covet friend-
ships. If time cures, it also teaches, and the ultimate is yet
to be learned.

Jerusalem .. .
. . . Washington . . .
intruding stupidities



Amazing how stupidities can intrude — even in diplo-
macy!
When it is coupled with vengeance, stemming from
anger, lack of good judgment becomes even more ridicul-
ous.
This is regrettable, ascribably to the silly suggestion
by a member of the Israel Knesset that his government
abandon Washington and make New York the headquar-
ters of the Israel Embassy in the United States.
That would accomplish exactly what Israel's enemies
advocate: adherence to the injustice in U.S, diplomatic
policies of making Israel an exception in the established
policies of setting up embassies in the capitals of each
nation's choice. By abandoning Washington, ISrael would
adopt a policy of setting up an embassy in a non-capital
setting of the nation with which it establishes diplomatic
relations.
Such statesmanship equates with the bigotries which
Israel presently resents and conducts diplomatic battle
with.

Joseph G. Weisberg
and the Jewish Advocate:
a respected editor's affiliations

The English-Jewish press lost a distinguished person-
ality in the death of Joseph G. Weisberg, editor-publisher of
the Boston Jewish Advocate.
Abandoning the practice of law to enter the family's
newspaper business, he was a dynamic leader in growing
efforts to keep raising the standards of Jewish journalism.

His uncles, Alexander and Joseph Brin, pursued pro-
gressive policies as editors of the Jewish Advocate by in-
fluencing the generations. Their readers in the early years
of their activities included Supreme Court Justice Louis D.
Brandeis. The prominent Zionist leader in the early years
of this century, Jacob de Haas, was one of the Advocate's
early editors, and Brandeis became interested in the news-
paper through his influence.

Joseph Weisberg's affiliations, in civic as well as
Jewish movements, included leadership as a newspaper-
man as well as in tasks in support of civic protective move-
ments and Israel.
He leaves a record of noteworthy creativity and the
nationwide tributes to his memory are meritoriously
earned.

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