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October 26, 1984 - Image 21

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1984-10-26

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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THE DETROIT „IEWISH NEWS

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Friday, October 26, 1984

21

BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN

ABBE A. LEVI

GOOD GLASSES

OPTICIAN

"This particular congrega-
tion has suffered more than
any other even though we're
actually about half-a-mile
away from the expressway,"
he continued. One congrega-
tion on Ten Mile Road
(Shaarey Shomayim), right on
the route of the expressway,
was the beneficiary of com-
pensation from the state. We
filed for consideration too, but
were told that we're too far
away, even though we've suf-
fered the most.
"Those synagogues along
the route that can hold off
until they receive considera7
tions from the state can be

saved. But ours, which served
people along Ten Mile Road,
across from the golf course,
and in Huntington Woods, up
the east side of Coolidge, we've
lost a lot of these people and
we've been affected the most."
Does Gordon think his con-
gregation will survive?
Somewhat optimistically, he
replies, "We have a vibrant
congregation, certainly still a
vibrant one. It is just not as big
as it was. We have a large
building which places even a
greater burden upon our small
congregation to maintain.
Yes, things have become tight
and they won't get any better

unless there's a turnaround.
An effort is being made to
bring more young people into
the area and something could
happen to revive the congre-
gation. Maybe, once the ex-
pressway ,is completed, the
community will stabilize. But
whether people will wait the
five, eight, nine years is a very
serious question. It (the ex-
pressway construction) is
going to be a tremendous in-
convenience. The Orthodox
people .will probably stay the
longest. But if the others
move, it weakens the whole
structure, and then they
would have to move as well."

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BY CARL ALPERT
Special to The Jewish News

Haifa — Statistics reveal that
from 2Q to 25 percent of all mar-
riages performed in Israel today
are inter-communal, that is, be-
tween Ashkenazi and Sephardi
partners. If that trend continues,
say sociologists, within two or
three generations much of the
tension which is sometimes artifi-
cially whipped up between the
two communities will have disap-
peared completely.
How does it work in practice?
What is the human element be-
hind the cold statistics? We de-
cided to interview 62-year-old
Rina Ben-Simhon, born in the
small town of Sefrou in Morocco,
who has made her own major con-
tribution to the process of com-
munal integration. All six of her
children married Ashkenazi
spouses, two from Polish families,
two German, one Russian and one
Romanian.
Discrimination,
prejudice
against Sephardim? Mrs. Ben-
Simhon, who has been in Israel
since she came here with her fam-
ily in 1948, said that neither she
nor her late husband had ever
been conscious of such. She said
she believes that in most cases
such feelings are created by those
who complain about them. She did
not use the words, but the impli-
cation is that they suffer from an
inferiority complex. She is a proud
"Sephardia."
She had gone to school in
Morocco until she was 14, at
which age she was married.
Hence she was considered "edu-
cated." After she had been in Is-
rael for a while she felt the need to
know Hebrew, epecially when her
eldest son, Gabi, wrote letters
home from the Israel army. She
could not wait until someone
came to read them to her, and so
she enrolled at an ulpan.
Her husband had always been a
Zionist. Indeed, he studied car-
pentry in Morocco because she

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was advised that would be a use-
ful occupation in the Jewish state.
All of their children bear Biblical
names: Gabriel, Amos, Eli,
Ruhama, Yeruham and
Yehoshua. The Ben-Simhons
were one of the first families to
leave Morocco in 1947, but they
ended up in Cyprus with their
first three children.

Orphans got priority in going to
Israel, so they sent two of their
boys ahead on the grounds that
they had no parents. The family
was, of course, reunited later. Her

They accepted the
mates their children
had chosen, even
though they were
Ashkenazim.

fourth, a daughter, was born in
Cyprus, and that gave the family
its own priority for departure.
Life was not easy at first. They
lived in a maabara, a transit
camp, and then in a tiny flat into
which were crowded also her
brother-in-law and her husband's
parents. She liked cooking, and so
she got a job in the kitchen of in-
stitutions to help put her two old-
est boys through university, while
her husband "carpentered" away.
He died a year ago.
He had been disappointed, she
admits, that their children had
not married Moroccans. But she
hastened to add that neither she
nor her husband had any prej-
udices. They accepted the mates
their children had chosen, even
though they were Ashkenazim.
Five daughters-in-law, Ilana,

Ora, Nili, Ophira and Varda, all of
whom came to visit frequently,
became interested in her cooking,
especially when their husbands
asked for dishes like ima used to
make. She would give them re-
cipes, but the bits of paper would
get mislaid. Thus was born the
idea of putting everythig down in
black and white, and her book was
born, Moroccan Cooking, which
has attracted considerable atten-
tion in Israel. As yet it is only in
Hebrew.
The compilation was not easy,
since everything had to be re-
duced to precise measurements
and quantities. Her recipes had
always turned out well with just a
"pinch" of this or a "handful" of
that.

And the 20 grandchildren, what
do they consider themselves, we
asked, Ashkenazi or Sephardi?
Was there a note of pride in her
voice when she replied, "Moroc-
cans," quickly adding, "Israelis."
The rest of her family is run-
ning pretty well ahead of statisti-
cal form. Two of her sister's four
children in Tivon wed
Ashkenazim. Her niece in
Jerusalem married a New York
boy, very religious.
Mrs. Ben-Simhon fills her time
with interests other than cooking,
too. Her walls are lined with gobe-
lins (tapestry) and other hang-
ings, all designed and executed by
her. No, she has not considered
marketing them commercially,
though they certainly looked
highly professional to us.
Much could be written about
her children as well, some of
whom have achieved notable suc-
cess in their professions and occu-
pations, but this is the story of
Rina Ben-Simhon, Israeli mother.
Little wonder that last year she
was chosen Outstanding Woman
of. the Western Carmel neighbor-
hood.

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