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October 19, 1984 - Image 2

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1984-10-19

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rida ,-October t4, A84.

THE OETOOIT JEWISH NEWS

PURELY COMMENTARY

■1•1•11■1,..

PHILIP SLOMOVITZ

Eichmann interrogation:
Less factual_record,
revealing Nazi tyrannies

i Der

Kundes' redivivus:
Humor on a traditional
scale in Ter Shmaiser'

Eichmann n court

Toward the end of the historically un-
forgettable Adolf Eichmann case in
Jerusalem in 1961, the hundreds of corre-
spondents who covered the sessions that
drew worldwide interest were presented
with two heavy volumes, each about three
inches thick, containing Eichmann's tes-
timony. Every page carried notations and
corrections made by Eichmann himself.
The interrogations were conducted by
Avner W. Less, the captain of the Israeli
police.
The original collection of interrogated
data, in its multigraphed and stiched texts
with the Eichmann changes, corrections,
comments, had a total of 3,564 pages.
The government of Israel cooperated
with the correspondents, including this
writer and reviewer, by wrapping and
mailing the heavily-packaged texts to
their home addresses.
This writer's copy went to the Univer-
sity of Michigan Library and was im-
mediately judged among the library's most
prized possessions.
The late S.L.A. (General SLAM)
Marshal, the eminent military authority
who became a strong advocate of just rights
for Israel, was with this reporter in the
Jerusalem courtroom for the Eichmann
trial. He beamed when Israeli officials of-
fered to wrap his Eichmann books and this
writers's. He, too, considered the legal re-
cords a most cherished gift from Israel.
Now, approximately ten percent of the
original texts are provided for renewed
study of the case in Eichmann Interrogated
by Avner W. Less (Vintage Books, a di-
vision of Random House).
The 315 pages of the Less compilation
of the carefully selected portions of the
Eichmann testimony emerge among the
most important available data on the
Holocaust and the Nazi horror.
Less' interrogations, the scrupulous-
ness with which he pursued his task, the
expertness of his approach to the trial in
his capacity as a police official, render this
book most important significance in guid-
lining the procedures and in revealing the
sense of loyalty to the Nazi cult and to
Fuehrer Adolf Hitler by Eichmann.
Throughout the trial, Eichmann held
fast to his views on Nazism, reiterated he
would again follow orders, and maintained
he had a duty to follow dictations from Hit-
ler and the Nazi chiefs.
He is quoted by Less: "I obeyed. Re-
gardless of what I was ordered to do, I
would have obeyed. I obeyed. I obeyed."
This is how the Nazi ideology is ex-
posed, how the criminals emerge in their
brutality.
The Less record has many aspects of
excellent reporting and exposing crimes
and criminals. The introduction by Less,
becoming acquainted with the inter-
rogator as a policeman of great skill, gives
this volume supreme importance in the
study of the Holocaust and its perpetrators.

Jews are known to have poked fun at
themselves. Sigmund Freud had an expla-
nation for it when he explained his own
verbal and written self-flagellation by
stating in his Wit and Its Relation to the
Unconscious:
This determination of self-
criticism may make clear why it is
that a number of the most excellent
jokes ... should have sprung into
existence from the soil of Jewish
national life . . . I do not know
whether one often finds a people
that makes so merry unreservedly
over its own shortcomings.
Self-needling has been like a common
denominator, and sarcasm a partial way of
life.
Now it is frequently heard that Jews
lack a sense of humor, that Israelis espe-
cially are weak in poking fun at them-
selves, their families and neighbors, even
their "enemies" who surround them.
The Jewish press suffers the most from
the indictment. It is accused of being to-
tally lacking in the lighter aspects of
Jewish life and its confrontations with
manifoldly differing views and those of
neighbors.
There is this to be said about the Yid-
dish press. When there were seven daily

Yiddish newspapers and a few additional
ones, like a shortlived one in Detroit, they
all had regular humor columns. The For-
ward, the former Yiddish daily Vorverts
that now continues as a weekly bilingual
(Yiddish and English) publication s, retains
that tradition.
Something has just happened to revive
interest in the question of published
Jewish humor and to take into account the
indictment that Jews have become or are
in danger of becoming humorless. A new
publication has appeared in Montreal
under the name Der Shamiser — The
Spanker.
There is an explanatory note with this
definition about the new publication: "A
Yiddish humorist-satirist daily which ap-
pears once in a Blue Moon." In the Yiddish
equivalent of the definition, it is annonced
that the "daily" appearance of this unique
periodical is "every third month after the
Eclipse of the Sun (Lkui Hama).
The reason for this lengthy explana-
tion is that this type of periodical is the
first after the long-defunct Der Kundes.
The latter was among the gems in world
humor. It was a relished Yiddish monthly
magazine and it was like a reference book
in the treatment of confrontations of all the
agonies, as well as the blessings, that
stemmed from the Jewish experience when
there were 18,000,000 Jews in the world,
half of them speaking and most of them
reading the Yiddish language.
Der Shmaiser is unique in many ways.
It is a very large-sized, eight-column,

four-page newspaper. It doesn't mat'e:
that it is a temporary creation. The very
idea of publishing it is sensational. Its Titi1
lishers and editors are a father-son team,
David Botwinik and La Leybi (Leon) B.
winik.
The contents are what matters. They
poke fun at selves and people, at fund raise
ers and rabbis.
Perhaps the entire idea is one of in.
spiring an interest in Yiddish and not )er,
mitting it to flounder.
Thus, under a Montreal designation
there is a story about an impressive parad(
of well-dressed Jews who were on a march
designating some sort of community sol
idarity. Then the question is posed: where
are they bound for? And the explanathr'
they are on the way to a public arena tv be
spanked — tsu veren geshmiessen. It w?_:-
the voluntary appearance in public of a
quest for atonement for having neglected
the Yiddish language.
Der Shmaiser is packed full of joks;
many perhaps a bit corny but neverthelessj
indicating the Yiddish sense of humor;
quite a few with a good modicum of the
philosophical and a pleasant Yiddish
flavor.
As a reminder of the long-defunct
Kundes and a traditional devotionj;
Jewish humor, the new "periodical" is a
remarkable phenomenon in what has bee :I
accused of being a humorless generation.'
In its Yiddish text and approach it m :
well serve as a new inspiration for th-L.
present-day Jewish editors.

JARC — Symbol of a great human task to uplift
the Detroit community's many underprivileged

In the continuing struggle to assure
human rights for the handicapped, the
progress made in behalf of the retarded is
among the most noticeable in the past de-
cade. It was not so long ago that in-
stitutionalizing them was a result of the
inhuman judgment that almost listed the
retarded as criminals. The step forward in-
cluded legislation recognizing the validity
and the urgent necessity of creating a
home atmosphere for the retardates. The
movement has grown in respectability and
has become an obligation for the socially-
minded to pursue it.
JARC — Jewish Association for Re-
tarded Citizens — is the movement that
serves that purpose in this community. It
began with a mere handful of supporters
less than two decades ago, when the first of
the homes to be established, titled
Haverim Home — the Brotherly House-
hold — came into being. Since then the
movement has grown and several
thousand supporters have been enrolled,
with many more invited to join the move-
ment when the annual fundraiser takes
place on Nov. 1 with Ben Vereen as
entertainment attraction.
In the spirit of humanism, such an ap-
peal has multiple merits. No matter how
many supporters are recruited, or how
much money is raised, there is always the
long line of applicants for admission to
such homes.
Therefore, every human spark kindled
in support of JARC and all its kindred
movements must be given proper acclaim.
Such applause has been recorded in a re-
cent issue ofBeaumonitor, the house organ
of Beaumont Hospital.
Published by the hospital "for em-
ployees, medical staff and volunteers,"
here • are aspects involving social-
mindedness that merit special attention.
In one of the most recent issues of
Beaumonitor, one of its writers, Deb Mero,
recorded fascination over the experiences
of one of the employees who became a pro-

gram director in the first of the established
JARC homes. Deb Mero learned that
Beaumont employee Tom Schamante had
joined his wife, Sherry Schamante, in ac-
tivities aiding the retarded. Because both
Schmantes, observant Catholics, found it
necessary to become acquainted with
Jewish customs, with kashrut, with the
necessities of operating a Jewishly-
motivated home for retarded citizens, the
manner in which they became dedicated to
the cause represents a deeply-moving in-
terpretation of a great need and an impres-
sive judgment of the response to the call to
action. The deeply-moving article by Deb
Mero, splendidly illustrated with photo-
graphs by Camille H. McCoy, invites com-
munity interest. It tells an exciting story
that could be called high-rate ecumenism
as well as first-rate humanism:
For Tom Schamante, working
with mentally retarded men and
women isn't just a job to fill his time
when he's not busy driving trucks
for Beaumont Shared Services,
Inc. It's a way of life.
For the past five years, Tom
and his wife, Sherry, have served
as live-in managers of a foster
home for mentally retarded resi-
dents. Their family consists of their
own two children, five-year-old
Christina and five-month-old
Thomas, plus six mentally re-
tarded men ages 30 through 60.
Until nine years ago, the
Schamantes had had little expo-
sure to mentally impaired indi-
viduals. Then Sherry started
babysitting for a retarded child.
"The parents were so im-
pressed with the way I dealt with
their son that they told me I should
get into group homes," Sherry re-
members. Group homes, she
learned, are foster homes licensed
by the State of Michigan to house
mentally retarded residents who

would otherwise be living in in-
stitutions.
Since 1972, when the Michigan
legislature passed a law promoting
group homes, about 3,000 have
been established in the state. Many
are operated by private agencies
with state funding.
Sherry's employers referred
her to one of these private agen-
cies, the Jewish Association for
Retarded Citizens, located in
Southfield. Its director, Joyce Kel-
ler, explained to the Schamantes,
"We're seeing people who once --
were stagnating in institutions - '-`1)
now thriving in group homes." Ms.
Keller cited research showing the
benefits of a family-style environ-
ment for mentally retarded per-
sons.
Convinced of the program's
merits, Tom and Sherry started
working part-time at one of the
Jewish Association's group
homes. Meanwhile, Tom became a
full-time driver for Beaumont.
Soon a full-time resident man-
ager position became available at a
group home and Sherry agreed to
fill it temporarily. "What started
out as a two-week arranagment
has turned into a five-year com-
mitment," Sherry says. She and
Tom moved into an agency-owned,
six-bedroom group home in South- 7% -'
field in late 1979. They've been
there ever since, Sherry as the
resident manager and Tom as a _
program worker.
1 ,
Tom and Sherry provide food,
housing, medical care and recrea-
tion for the six mentally retarded
residents who have become mem-
bers of their family.
As part of this family, the

Continued on Page 12

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