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August 02, 1985 - Image 63

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Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-08-02

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Friday, August 2, 1985 63

WYN & HAROLD •
CATERING SERVICE

PURELY COMMENTARY

A Perfect Party Anywhere

From

swain's Serious Self

"A Pocket Full Of
Party Pointers"
Timely Tip:

ontinued from. Page 2

elpful in all profitable ways;
e even financed crusades for
he rescue of the Sepulchre.
o wipe out his account with
he nation and restore busi-
est to its natural and incom-
etent channels, he had to be
anished from the realm.
For the like reasons, Spain
ad to banish him four
undred years ago, and Au-
Ina about a couple of cen-
iries later. In all the ages,
hristian Europe has been
bilged to curtail his activi-
es. If he entered upon a
i echanical trade, the Chris-
an had to retire from it. If he
e t up as a doctor, he was the
est one and he took the
usiness. If he exploited ag-
[ culture, the other farmers
ad to get at something else.
ince there was no way to
uccessfully compete with
im in any vocation, the law
ad to step in and save the
hristian from the poorhouse.
made after trade was taken
way from the Jew by statute
11 practically none was left.
le was forbidden to engage
1 agriculture; he was forbid-
e n to practice law; he was
rbidden the handicrafts.
yen the seats of learning and
e schools of science had to
closed against this tre-
endous antagonist.
Still, almost bereft of em-
oyments, he found ways to
ake money, even ways to get
h — also ways to invest his
kings well, for usury was
i t denied him. In the hard
nditions suggested, the Jew
thout brains could not sur-
e, and the Jew with brains
d to keep them in good
ining and well sharpened
, or starve. Ages of restric-
n to the one tool which the
w was not able to take from
his brain — have made that
of singularly competent;
es of compulsory disuse of
hands have atrophied
em, and he never uses them
w. This history has a very,
rycommercial look, a most
rdid and practical commer-
look, the business aspect
a Chinese cheap-labor
ade. Religious prejudices
y account for one part of it,
t not for the other nine.
t is necessary to read this
gthy portion of the Twain
wpoint to realize that he was
lly repeating an old interpre-
on of anti-Semitic causes. It
s the rich Jew, the enterpris-
one, the shrewd protector of
very existence who was
mphing against his enemies.
me, may squirm upon read.
this. The fact is that Mark
am was putting into strong
age a viewpoint that pre-
mated. He had not written
anger but rather in appre-
ion of a subdued, persecuted
up defying obstacles,
evertheless, there is
much in
erning the Jews that
could
eyebrows now, He did,
not
ore the negati ves , He touche
n the questions raised about d
luau tactics, won repeated
charges that had been
led about arsonists, etc.

His chief measure of praise

was about Jews as socially-
minded, as the charitable, and as
sanctifiers of the home spirit. It
was on these scores that he
wrote in his 1898 essay:

That the Jewish home is a
home in the truest sense is a
fact which no one will dis-
pute. The family is knitted to-
gether by the strongest affec-
tions; its members show each
other every due respect; and
reverence for the elders is an
inviolate law of the house.
The Jew is not a burden on
the charities of the state nor
of the city; these could cease
from their functions without
affecting him. When he is well
enough, he works; when he is
incapacitated, his own people
take care of him — and not in

"When he (the Jew)
is well enough, he
works; when he is
incapacitated, his
own people take care
of him — and not in a
poor and stingy way

• • •

a poor and stingy way, but
with a fine and large benevo-
lence. His race is entitled to
be called the most benevolent
of all the races of men. A
Jewish begger is not impossi-
ble, perhaps; such a thing
may exist, but there are few
men that can say they have
seen that spectacle. The Jew
has been staged in many un-
complimentary forms, but so
far as I know, no dramatist
has done him the injustice to
stage him as a begger.
Whenever a Jew has real
need to beg, his people save
him from the necessity of
doing it. The charitable in-
stitutions of the Jews are
supported by Jewish moeny,
and amply. The Jews make no
noise about it; it is done
quietly; they do not nag and
pester and harass us for con-
tributions; they give us peace

and set us an example — an
example which we have not
found ourselves able to fol-
low; for by nature we are not
free givers and have to be
patiently and persistently
hunted down in the interest of
the unfortunate.

It was on prejudice generally,
and because the charge was re-
peated recently — and power-
fully refuted — about his dislike
for the blacks that a comment on
the subject in Concerning the
Jews is meritorious. Twain thus
refuted racism:

I will begin by saying that if
I thought myself prejudiced
against the Jew, I should hold
it fairest to leave this subject
to a person not crippled in
that way. But I think I have
no such prejudice. A few
years ago, a Jew observed to
me that there was no un-
courteous reference to his
people in my books and asked
how it happened. It happened
because the disposition was
lacking. I am quite sure that
(bar one) I have no race prej-
udices and I think I have no
color prejudices, nor caste
prejudices, nor creed prej-
udices. Indeed, I know it., I
can stand any society. All that
I care to know is that a man is
a human being — that is
enough for me: he can't be
any worse.
Mark Twain thus left many
interesting memories in his
Jewish concerns, some on an in-
timate basis. He experienced a
literary-humorous association
with Sholem Aleichem, each
commending the other for their
contributions to the lighter side
of life.Theirs was a meeting that
left an indelible mark on their
most important contributions as
writers to two language entities.
As father-in-law of Ossip Gab-
rilowitsch, the famed pianist and
Detroit Symphony Orchestra
conductor, Mark Twain (Samuel
Clemens) always showed respect
for the Jewish people. Very criti-
cal of all religions, including his
own Christian legacy, there was
less condemnation for Judaism,
in his writings, than for religion
as such.
The reprinting of Concerning
the Jews adds to the Mark Twain
legacy nearly 90 years after the
publication of the Harper article.

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