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August 30, 1985 - Image 2

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Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-08-30

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2

Friday, August 30, 1985

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

PURELY COMMENTARY

PHILIP SLOMOVITZ

A Festival Season For The Newest In Jewish Calendars

A French scholar, Joseph Justus
Scaliger (1540-1609), writing in 1583,
made the interesting comment: "The
Jewish calendar is the most brilliant
achievement of its kind." One would have
to know the French language and delve
into Scaliger's book De Emendatione Tem-
porum for a fuller understanding of his
compliment, written in an age when there
was more prejudice than appreciation of
Jewish values. Even without extended re-
search of that viewpoint, the definition
merits application to the current interest
in calendars generally and the Jewish in
particular.
This is, indeed, the Jewish season for
calendars and for an interest in them.
There will be many Jewish calendars
drawing special attention to their contents
in the approaching month of the High Holy
Days. One such calendar already received
special attention on this page in an earlier
issue' It is My Very Own Jewish Calendar:
Phe Luach With Ruach, the Calendar with
Character ( Kar-Ben Copies).
Another special one just off the press is
a splendidly illustrated and informative
one entitled plainly The Jewish Calendar
1986, published by High Lauter Levin
Associates. The notable paintings and
religious ceremonial art collected for the
illustrative section were secured from the
Jewish Museum of the Jewish Theological
Seminary. While the publishers of this
calendar are based in New York, it is in-
teresting to note that it was printed in Ja-
pan. Is it because the very expensive re-
productions, multicolored, can be repro-
duced more cheaply in the Japanese print-
ing establishment'?
The fascinating illustrations include
religiously-motivated paintings such as an
ancient Israeli Basalt Double Altar and
19th Century rimonim (pomegranates)
from Hakofot. Each month in the calendar
has an illustration related to it.
Candle lighting, a chart listing the
holidays for a five-year period, the civic
and other holidays are among the standard
facts included here.
The illustrative portion in itself is so
enriching that this calendar immediately
attracts specific attention as a product that
will enrich the home wall on which it is
hung.
Much has been written and published
on the subject of the Jewish calendar. Vol-
umes are availble on the subject. Notably,
the subject is treated with simplicity, yet
with thoroughness in a book for young
readers. Dr. Azriel Eisenberg, the well
known educator who has a record of nearly
five decades of leadership in Jewish educa-
tional spheres, covered the subject, relat-
ing to the civic, lunar and solar calendorial
aspects, in The Story of the Jewish Calen-
dar, which was published in 1958.
Dr. Eisenberg's book lends itself for
study by all peoples, all faiths, while the
emphasis is primarily on the Jewish calen-
dar. Written for children, readers of all
ages will benefit from the information pre-
sented in this volume.

Season For
Calendars

On the subject of the Jewish calendar,
Dr. Eisenberg wrote:

The Jewish calendar is a com-
bination of the moon and sun
calendars. According to it, the
months are fixed by the movement
of the moon, and the days of the
year by the movement of the sun. It
is regulated so that it keeps up with
the movement of the earth around
the sun which, you will remember,
determines the seasons of the year.

Dr. Eisenberg's The Story of the
Jewish Calendar invites wide attention
and readership. The entire subject of the
Jewish calendar is fascinating. As the
famous interpreter of Jewish traditions
and Halachah, Rabbi Samson Raphael
Hirsch (1808-1888) wrote in Bet-
rachtungen zum Judischen Kalendarjahr,
"The Cathechism of the Jew is his calen-
dar."

Downtown Treasures:
Sam's Cut Rate And
The Opera House

Dr. Azriel Eisenberg

Jewish holidays come about 11
days earlier each year, but this is
taken care of by the addition of a
whole extra month approximately
every third year. In this way, there
are 30 days extra in the Jewish
Leap Year to take care of the days
that have been "lost" in the three
years, just as there are 24 extra
hours in the general Leap Year to
take care of the time lost in the
previous four years.
By following this moon-sun
calendar, the Jews keep their holi-
days in the seasons called for by
the Bible. Passover is always in the
spring, even though it comes on a
different day each year according
to the general calendar.
Why did the early Hebrew and
Arabs base their calendar on the
moon rather than the sun? We can't
be sure, but it may have been be-
cause they were originally a desert
people who raised sheep for a liv-
ing. As shepherds, they did not
have to depend on the seasons
when planting and harvesting are
best, and when the sun is more im-
portant than the moon. The moon
changed regularly and often, and
made a natural "clock" by which
people could measure the passing
of time.
Farming people based their
work calendar on the sun, as they
still do (and that is why we have
"daylight saving" time in the sum-
mer). Hunting people, like the In-
dians, and herding people, like the
early Hebrews and Bedouins,
based their work calendars on the
moon.
Deserts are always very hot
during the daylight hours when
the sun is highest, so the people of
the desert usually move about dur-
ing the evening and the night, and
in the early morning hours. Both
Jewish and Moslem holidays begin
the night before (around sunset), per-

haps because it is in the cool of the
evening that people in the desert
encampments wake up and start doing
things.
But the time came when the Jews
were no longer wanderers in the des-
ert. They settled down in the land of
Canaan, some as farmers, and some as
town-dwellers, doing the work that
people who live in cities usually do.
However, they had been following a
moon calendar and their religion and
festivals were based on it. But the
farmers couldn't work according to the
moon calendar, so the calendar was
"regulated" for the farmers, and by
catching up with the sun year they
were also able to keep their holidays
from shifting too far out of season, as
the holidays still do today for those
who follow the Moslem calendar.

Letters to the Editor are worth study-
ing. They often express viewpoints as in-
spiring as newspaper editorials. On occa-
sion, they revive interest in forgotten inci-
dents in local and world history.
One such reminder was incorporated
in a letter published in the Detroit Free

ily and their local leadership in business
and community makes for an interesting
story.
The letter in the Free Press mentioned
another Detroit landmark: the Detroit
Opera House, which shared the same
building as the Osnos' Cut Rate Store.
Scores of Jewish functions were held there.
One such gathering this writer recalls was
organized in honor of Vladimir Jabotinsky,
the mentor of Menachem Begin, whose
name is recorded in Jewish history as the
founder of the Revisionist Zionist move-
ment and the staunch opponent of Chaim
Weizmann. The meeting took place during
the 1920s, the active period of early Zionist
history when Jacob Miller, who later be-
came the director of the Judea Insurance
Company in Palestine, was executive di-
rector of the Detroit Zionist Organization
and the United Palestine Appeal.
Jabotinsky was introduced to the
gathering by another popular Detroit
name, the late Louis Cohane. One cannot
recall Cohane without including in this
chapter of Detroit Jewish history of his
widow, Regene Freund Cohane. Regene,
who is now in her 65th year as an active
law practitioner, in the beginning shared
law offices with Louis. She was among the
very active leaders in Jewish women's
ranks. For a generation she was listed
among the most talented women in Michi-
gan. That she is still active in law serves as
a welcome message for her many friends.
It may be of interest to recall also that
Louis Cohane became known as Michi-
gan's leading "four-minute speaker," for
his activites on behalf of the U.S. War
Bonds campaigns.
These historic events are recalled and
deservedly glorified by a letter writer to
the Detroit Free Press who is surely un-
aware of the sensation he created in his
invitation to recall a Downtown Detroit,
Campus Martius experience.

Max Osnos

Volume Documents
Mideast Conflict

Vladimir Jabotinsky

Press. Expressing chagrin over the
planned demolition of a building on Mon-
roe Street in Downtown Detroit, the letter
to the Free Press referred to the old Sam's
Cut Rate Store, with a comment that in the
49 years Sam's Cut Rate was functioning
"every child of this city has shopped there
at least once."
This is a compliment to the founder of
the firm, Sam Osnos; to his sons who were
active in the business. They included Max
Osnos, who was the first president of Sinai
Hospital and one of the first chairmen of
the Detroit Israel Bond Organization; and
Herman Osnos, who, among other activi-
ties, served as president of Pisgah Lodge of
B'nai B'rith.
This is one aspect of the letter that
should not be overlooked. The Osnos fam-

Co-edited by Walter Laqueur, the
noted authoritative author of numerous
works on the Middle East, and Barry Ru-
bin, Senior Fellow in Middle East Studies
at Georgetown University's Center for
Strategic and International Studies, the
Israel-Arab Reader (Facts on File Publica-
tions — Viking) retains its status as one of
the most important documentaries on the
Middle East. The fourth edition evidences
a continuing significance in the gathered
facts which provide the vitally needed in-
formative source for a proper evaluation of
what had occurred in the troubled area,
from the pogroms in Russia in the 1880s
and the founding of the Zionist movement
until the Lebanese crisis of 1982.
The fact that the documentaries he-
rein commence with the "Bilu" movement
in the 1880s and embrace every aspect of
international occurrences affecting
Zionism, the Jewish experiences during
the Nazi era, the founding of Israel ele-
vates The Israel-Arab Reader: A Documen-
tary History of the Middle East Conflict to
the status of a textbook for schools and
study groups as well as the provider of pro-
per information for statesmen of all calib-
ers.
The world's leading personalities,
commencing with Theodor Herzl, includ-
ing Winston Churchill, Gamal Abdel Nas-
ser, Menachem Begin, Andrei Gromyko
and many scores of others figure in the
collected data incorporated in this impres-
sive historiography.

Continued on Page 20

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