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April 19, 1985 - Image 47

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-04-19

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

-M DETROIT JEWISH NEWS-

We Fence Everything

bruce m. weiss

M 1:la

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bership moved five times until
the congregation built its own
building in Farmington Hills
in 1971.
In 1979, the temple became
the center of a communal con-
troversy when it sponsored a
talk by Palestinian sym-
pathizer I. F. Stone. The Rab-
binical Commission of the
Jewish Community Council,
then headed by Rabbi Israel
Halpern, former spiritual
leader of Cong. Beth Abraham
Hillel Moses, sent Rabbi Wine
a letter of censure "for provid-
ing I. F. Stone a platform from
which to espouse his pro-PLO,
anti-Israel views. We believe
that the congregation and its
rabbi owe an apology to the
Jewish community." At the
same time, Halpern wrote that
the commission respects "the
right of organizations and in-
dividuals to espouse any view-
point."
Wine and then president
Lynne Silverberg responded
strongly:
"Our congregation is com-
posed of members whose opin-
ions on political and Zionist is-
sues cover a wide spectrum.

We are willing to listen to
ideas we may ultimately dis-
agree with, because we firmly
believe in the value of open in-
quiry and free speech. Jewish
survival and dignity are as
important to us as to you. We
would never sponsor any
speaker who would harm the
Jewish people or the state of
Israel.
"We believe that the Detroit
Jewish community should
enjoy the same liberties as the
citizens of Israel. They par-
ticipate in a free and open de-
bate on all political issues.
They do not choose to muzzle
opponents of the government.
They do not confuse honest
disagreement with treason.
"We believe that you owe an
apology to I. F. Stone and to
the Birmingham Temple for
your intemperate action. For-
bidding dissent is a dangerous
precedent, which does you lit-
tle honor."
There were no further com-
munications between the local
rabbinical commission and the
Birmingham Temple and the
issue was dropped.
The philosophy or ideology

Friday, April li:ib85 47

of the congregation is based on
man's potential, on reason, on
reality, on that which can be
proved. Rather than denying
outright the existence of God,
Humanistic Jews question
that existence. Wine doesn't
see himself as an agnostic but
as ignostic, "someone who will
only accept the truth of state-
ments that can be empirically
proved."
With this declaration in the
1960s, a virtual explosion
rocked the religious world,
drawing ire from the Jewish
clergy and the non-Jewish
clergy as well. In a Detroit
News column in 1965, The Rt.
Rev. Richard S. Emrich, Epis-
copal Bishop of Michigan,
criticized Wine, not for preach-
ing a God-less religion, but for
preaching under the title of
rabbi his own "traditions"
rather than those which have
come down through the ages.
At the same time, Rabbi
Solomon B. Freehof, one of the
earliest Reform rabbis to be
ordained at the Hebrew Union
College and a pioneer as a Re-
form Jewish author of Re-

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Zev Katz

and thirdly in the research
aspect, whereby materials
are prepared, theoretical
foundations are examined
and study conducted on the
humanistic elements of the
Talmud.
Like its American coun-
terpart, Humanistic
Judaism in Israel was met
with much opposition from
the Orthodox establish-
ment.
According to Katz, the
Orthodox made efforts to
prevent the movement from
gaining recognition. As an

example he cited an inci-
dent regarding religious
programming on the state
radio. 'Although Humanis-
tic Jews appear on many
non-religious radio pro-
grams, they "never got a
mention that the group
exists" on religious pro-
grams, Katz said. Yet, the
society's president,. Prof.
Yehudah Bauer of Hebrew
University, has appeared
on many Israeli TV pro-
grams.
Wine said the Orthodox
oppose the movement be-
cause they see no lasting
value in it. However, Katz
said that the society does
not want to create friction
or offend the Orthodox.
Rather, he would like to see
an effort "to break the
monotony of the Orthodox
rabbinate," whereby there
would be equality and
recognition of the non-
Orthodox. How would he
achieve that aim? At the in-
itiative of the secular
humanists, a coalition has
been established on pre-
venting further legislation
which would be a detriment
to such groups as academic
organizations, a r-
ch eol ogists , civil rights

women's
movements,
groups, the Reform, Con-
servative and humanist
groups and others.
"We have to . work to-
gether against the
monolithic Orthodox rab-
binate in Israel. We have to
fight for the future, not just
for survival. Survival is not
enough. We want to survive
in the light of the great
moral-spiritual tradition of
the Jews.
Currently, the humanist
movement is most popular
in the kibbutzim. Wine said
he hopes to see a greater
participation from the
urban centers. Katz would
like to create a section corn-
prised of "creative people,"
artists, writers, musicians
and actors.
In addition, Katz said he
would like to see a re-
evaluation of Judaism.
"Judaism has to be reinter-
preted in a modern
humanistic way. This is es-
sential for the survival of
the Jewish people, for Is-
rael, and this is essential as
part of the progress in man-
kind together. All religions
will have to move to what is
a humanistic interpreta-
tion . ."

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