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April 12, 1985 - Image 15

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-04-12

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

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

val compilation will cost $35-40 mil-
lion. A final $15 million is targeted for
the endowment of six doctoral chairs
on Holocaust studies at major univer-
sities. Since August, $10 million has
been raised.
David Weinstein, national cam-
paign director for the Holocaust
Memorial Council, has steering com-
mittees in ten major cities. "Fifty
thousand dollars is the minimum gift
(required) from each person on a steer-
ing committee," Weinstein explains,
"and each committee has 20 mem-
bers." (That makes an even million per
committee.)
"Once a person is on the steering
committee," Weinstein continues, he
is asked to host an event for colleagues
and friends." In D.C., the banker,
Norman Bernstein, hosted an at-home
luncheon which reaped $1,200,000.
Gerald Segal, a figure in the construc-
tion industry, had a similar gathering
and raised over half a million dollars.
Expectations • are high for the June
dinner to be given by Rev. Timothy
Healy, president of Georgetown Uni-
versity. "So few people have turned me
down . . . it's unreal the kind of re-
sponse we're getting in every single
city," Weinstein glories.
Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean of the
Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los
Angeles, does not feel that his Center's
efforts will be hurt by the National
Holocaust Memorial Museum effort.
Hier feels that today's "sophisticated
donor" goes through an educational
process which broadens his or her
views of Jewish needs. "In most cases,"
Hier believes, "the donor increases his
donation as his views are broadened by
more and more people competing for
his attention." In this way, Hier rea-
sons, "each charity helps the other."
Abraham Foxman, associate na-
tional director of the B'nai B'rith
Anti-Defamation League, says he is
unaware of any impact that the Na-
tional Museum drive has had on fun-
draising efforts elsewhere. "Thank
God, the Jewish community is multi-
faceted," he says, adding that the Na-
tional Museum is asking for a "one
shot" contribution, which reduces
long-term competition.
Elton Kerness, vice president of
the national United Jewish Appeal,
also claims the UJA campaign is unaf-
fected. "I believe most of us have the
ability to give to things that are
priorities," Kerness remarks. Marc
Breslaw, campaign director for the
UJA Federation of Greater Washing-
ton, agrees that their campaign has
not suffered to date. "But it's too early
to tell," Breslaw notes, adding that
they are "trying to canvass our big
gifts as early in the year as possible
before their (the National Holocaust
Museum) campaign is in full swing."

Holocaust Musetim campaigners
say they have taken precautions to
avoid conflicts among fundraisers.
They met with national leaders of the
UJA and Council of Jewish Federa-
tions early on to "inform them about

I

The Holocaust Museum's symbol: the
eternal flame over barbed wire.

our plans and ask for their moral sup-
port and to tell them our intent in no
way was to disrupt their activities,"
says David Weinstein. He is delighted
by the amount of "networking" that
community fundraisers are providing.
Steve Solender, president of
timore's Associated Jewish Charities,
reports that the National Museum
campaigners "have been very coopera-
tive with us. They have not begun
their campaign here because they
are waiting for us to finish our obliga-
tions this year." Solender says that the
Associated will help the Museum drive
by providing names and other useful
information.
Those who back the Holocaust
Museum often describes it in terms
such as "unique," "awesome," or
"world class." They point out that only
one other country, Israel, has a na-
tional museum on the Holocaust. Sup-
port by non-Jews, (the Chicago effort is
led by Patrick Doyle, president of
McDade & Co. and the Boston steering
committee is headed by John Scully,
executive vice president of the Han-
cock Insurance Company), is given as
evidence of the project's broad-based
appeal.
But critics contend that,there has
been little if any public discussion of
such a major national effort and they
question the Jewish community's
priorities in investing so much money
into this project.
"I think it would be a far more
meaningful memorial to those who
died in the Holocaust if we put tens of
millions of dollars into Jewish educa-
tion," says Wayne Feinstein of the De-
troit Federation. He noted that Detroit
has a major Holocaust museum that
has cost about $3 million, 80 percent of
which was contributed by the Jewish
community.
Ted Kanner, executive vice
president of the Jewish Federation
Council of Greater Los Angeles, says
he is fully supportive of a national
Holocaust center "but that amount of

money is absurd, or worse." One of the
problems in voicing these concerns, he
says, is that there is no real forum for
discussion and "no one wants to ruffle
any feathers — how can you criticize a
national Holocaust memorial chaired
by Elie Wiesel?" But he is critical of
undertaking such an effort when Yad
Vashem in Jerusalem, 'Israel's na-
tional Holocaust memorial museum, is
"having a terrible time financially."
Another major city Federation
executive who preferred anonymity
said he opposes the national project on
practical and philosophical grounds.
"It's a grandiose plan that was neither
planned nor budgeted carefully," he
says. "The original idea was to get
most of the funding from large corpo-
rations but when that didn't work they
decided to fundraise in the Jewish
community."
He added that it was a serious
mistake for "our American Jewish le-
gacy to the United States to be one of
death and destruction — but that's the
statement we're making." He favored
an American Jewish history museum,
along the lines of the Diaspora
Museum in Tel Aviv, which would in-
clude a section on the Holocaust but
would primarily depict the Jewish ex-
perience in America.
Another major Jewish leader as-
serted that "corporate America has not
been tested or touched" for funds.
"This should be an American project,
and we make a serious mistake by
coveting it for Jewish America," he
said.
Perhaps the most outspoken critic is
Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg, past
president of the American Jewish
Congress and a faculty member of

Friday, April 12, 1985

15

Dartmouth and Columbia, who speaks
frankly of what he calls the "Holocaust
sacred cow" and the "Holocaust
`masher-ocracy.' " Concerning the
museum's proposed budget, Hertzberg
says, "$100 million is a scandal, a dis-
tortion and a desecration of the mem-
ory of the dead . . . We do not need more
Holocaust education, we need more
Jewish education."
Hertzberg, who was born in
Poland and lost family in the Holo-
caust, decries his belief that "being
Jewish has become equated with
demonstrating before a Russian con-
sulate, going to Israel and weeping
over the Holocaust, and the whole of
activity for Israel. But Jewish life is
devoid of cultural content and con-
tinuity . . . We have created a shallow,
anti-intellectual Jewish community.
You don't have to know Torah any-
more."
Hertzberg also feels that the U.S.
Government has gulled the Jewish
community by choosing to mark the
Holocaust with a project financed by
privately-raised donations.
In response to criticisms such as
this, David Weinstein responds that
the Holocaust Memorial Council re-
ceives $2 million annually in federal
funds and that the museum is being
funded exactly as was the Kennedy
Center for the Performing Arts. "The
property is worth $40 million, if you
could buy it," he adds. But in conclu-
sion Weinstein makes the kind of re-
mark about the National Holocaust
Memorial Museum that is heard more
frequently: "If through this noble ven-
ture we're able to touch even a few
individuals, it's worth more than $100
million." ❑

The Memorial Council's Mandate

Each year since 1979 the United
States has commemorated the victims
of the Holocaust and has honored the
survivors during the Days of Remem-
brance when ceremonies are held in
Washington, D.C. and in states and
cities throughout the country. The
United States • Memorial Council
coordinates these observances.
In 1985, which marks the fortieth
anniversary of liberation, the national
civic commemoration will be held on
Monday, April 15. The national cere-
monies have been addressed each year
by the President of the United States
and members of Congress from both
parties. This personal involvement of
the nation's leaders underscores a
national commitment to honoring the
memory of the victims.
The United States Holocaust Memo-
rial Council was established in October
1980 by a unanimous vote of Congress.
It is an independent government agen-
cy set up to create a living museum to

the victims of the Holocaust and to hon-
or their memories in annual Days of
Remembrance.
The Council was created at the rec-
ommendation of the President's Com-
mission on the Holocaust. Professor
Elie Wiesel is Chairman of the Council,
which consists of 55 members
appointed by the President and five
members each from the House of
Representatives and the Senate. In
addition, there are three non-voting ex
officio members, one each appointed by
the Secretaries of State, Interior and
Education.
The Council is carrying out its man-
date by coordinating Days of Remem-
brance each year and by raising funds
from private sources to build a national
memorial museum in the nation's
Capital. The keys to the museum site
assigned by the Government were
transferred to the Council by Vice Pres-
ident George Bush at a ceremony on
the Capitol steps.

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