Friday, November 9, 1984
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
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Is new Jewish 'morality' harmful?
BY HEIDI PRESS
Local News Editor
Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis
says we're pressuring our kids too
much to excel. That, he said, is one
of the many results of what he
called the change in the moral
character of contemporary Jewry.
Speaking last week to nearly
250 women at the 37th annual In-
stitute Day of the Women's Di-
vision of the Jewish Welfare Fed-
eration, Schulweis enumerated
the changes that are affecting
Jewish life today.
Remarking on sobriety, Schul-
weis said alcoholism among Jews
was virtually unheard of years
ago. Today, in New York, he said
about 40 percent of the members
of Alcoholics Anonymous are
Schulweis said the divorce rate
is rising among world Jewry.
Worse, he said, in California
halfway houses have had to open
for battered Jewish wives.
The attractiveness of cults for
Jewish youngsters also was a
matter of serious concern, Schul-
weis said, estimating that about
40 percent of the Unification
Church's membership is Jewish.
"Something is happening to us
which is more serious than
whether we support Likud or not,
or go to synagogues or not," he
said. "The moral character of
Jews is changing."
He called the contemporary
Jewish family "pathogenic," ex-
debuts in December
"Singleseen," a new TV series
for single adults, will be broadcast
on WXON-TV20 at 11 p.m. Sun-
days starting Dec. 2.
The program's producers,
Cranium Company, Inc., an-
nounced that new "Singleseen"
shows will be videotaped in front
of a live audience at Yesterdays
lounge in the Sheraton-Southfield
Hotel. Auditions for "Singlesc-
reen" guests will be held at Yes-
terdays on Wednesday from 6 to
10 p.m. Auditions are open to all
Audition questionnaires are
available at Yesterdays any time
prior to audition night. The next
scheduled videotaping of "Single-
seen" is set for Nov. 19, from 6 to
Midnight at Yesterdays lounge.
Audience participation is open to
"Singlescreen" is hosted by T.
Allen Moore of WOMC radio.
for Jewish teenagers
Harry Teichert Strings
Joyce Klein, director of the
Jewish Repertory Theater for
Young Audiences, will conduct
workshops on Jewish identity and
problems faced by Jewish teena-
gers today at the United Hebrew
Begun in 1972 by two Israelis,
the Jewish Repertory Theater is
dedicated to producing plays by
Jewish authors with Jewish val-
ues and historical perspective.
The group uses puppets, stories
and songs to impart its message.
plaining that "today there is a
higher incidence of hostility
towards parents and institu-
One of the reasons for this hos-
tility toward parents, he said, is in
the pressure parents put on their
children to achieve academically.
He said that as the parents strive
to be assimilated by becoming
successful in the professions and
business they are similarly trying
to pressure their children to excel
in school, but for the wrong rea-
sons. Not because they will derive
a sense of achievement, but be-
cause if they achieve academic ex-
cellence they will win their par-
ents' love. That, Schulweis says, is
"It's more vicious than 'pres-
sure. Today to be a good child
means to bring home all A's."
Schulweis said that if a child
today is a success academically,
then he is a good child. If he is not,
then he is a failure in the parents'
eyes. The result, then, is if the
child is not successful he is made
to feel that to fail "is to betray (the
parents') confidence and risk the
love of the parent."
The problem, Schulweis says, is
one of "parental narcissism,"
where the parents press the child
to be a success for their own self-
esteem, and not for the child's own
sense of achievement.
"Kvelling (glowing with pride)
is one of the worst terms we have,"
Schulweis said. "Kvelling kills.
It's not the same as loving."
The "kid is frightened of the ul-
timate rejection," losing his par-
ents' love. Because of the fear of
this rejection "students have lost
the joy and purpose of it all," the
reason for studying, Schulweis
What can be done to change
what Schulweis called the
"hemorrhaging of the Jewish fam-
First, Schulweis says, parents
must realize that "your kids are
not an extension of your own am-
bitions and frustrations." He said
that the child, just as everyone
else, is created in the image of
God. "He is a co-responsible,
sanctifying agent to repair this
world. Respect this child."
Schulweis said he would have
sneaked in a footnote after the
Fifth Commandment — honor
your son and daughter. "It's never
too late to tell your kids you love
Secondly, Schulweis said the
child should be given "uncondi-
tional love. Don't love him for his
productivity but for what he is.
In the afternoon session, he
talked about ways to motivate a
child. One is by the "mallet," the
other by the "magnet."
"It's easier to be judgmental,.
condemn. It's easier to pull," he
said. Rather than use a mallet
style of conditioning, Schulweis
recommended the magnet.
"Through the magnet you
create a certain style of life. Kids
are behavioristic. It's important
that kids know where you are and
what you do.
"We are gods to odr children."
The best way to motivate, he
suggested, is by example.