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September 06, 1985 - Image 25

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-09-06

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

■ ^ ■

'THE DETROINEWISH NEWS Fridaw, September 6, 1985


The final chapter addresses the
Another complication that delayed
publication of the book was that
more and riiore statistical and anec-
dotal proof for his thesis that
American Jews are in a better state
than they know kept on pouring in.
Silberman even added a last-minute
"Afterword" about the recent Bit-
burg affair just as the book was final-
ly going to press. He argued that Bit-
burg was "surely the most
remarkable moment in the annals of
American Jewry," one that
demonstrated "that for American
Jews, the United States is now home
as well as haven; once characterized
as `eternal strangers,' Jews are now
natives, free to assert their pain and
anger — able and willing `to speak
truth to power.' "
Charles Silberman lives with his
wife Arlene, also an author and
editor, in a comfortable apartment on
Manhattan's fashionable Upper East
Side. The Silbermans have four
grown sons. Trained as an economist
at Columbia University — but well
versed in history and philosophy, and
with a solid background in Talmud
(which he quotes easily) — Silberman
joined the editorial staff of Fortune
in 1953, eventually becoming
associate editor. He directed a study
of American education for the
Carnegie Corporation during his
tenure at Fortune, and he was
seconded for a year to the magazine's
parent corporation, Time Inc:, for a
research and development project.
He took leaves of absence to write his
• two bestselling "Crisis" books, the
first on race, the second on education.
Both were extensions of earlier For-
tune articles.
After the "Crisis" books, Silber-
man left Fortune to do fulltime
writing. His other books are Crim-

inal Violence, Criminal Justice;
The Open. Classroom Reader and
The Myths of Automation. Turning -

to a Jewish subject was not the
least bit out of character, Silber-
man comments. He was raised in
an Orthodox home, "and the Jewish
preoccupation has been constant."
Critics have consistently praised
Silberman's books for clear, suc-
cinct — and, especially, readable ---
handling of complex problems. His
earlier books proved particularly
timely, provoking the rethinking of
crucial "givens" in race relations,
education, the criminal justice sys-
tem and business just as national
debafes on those issues were heat-
ing up. Silberman, who has been
called both a "scholar" and a "jour-
nalist," prefers to be known just as •
"an author." In any 'event, his

Continued'on next page

A Silberman

...America really is different -- differ-
ent in kind, not just in degree — from any
other society in which Jews have lived.
The critical difference...is that in the
United States anti-Semitism never has
been an instrument of government or
church policy: On the contrary, powerful
forces built into the marrow of American
society confine anti-Jewish attitudes to
the private domain, thereby preventing
anti-Semitism from becoming the official,
policy of the government or of other ma-
jor institutions in American life...Short
of changes so profound as to transform'
the entire society, it is hard to imagine
American Jews being pushed out of the
positions they now occupy, individually
or collectively.

...Jewishness no longer is a significant
handicap in running for any office except
that of president and, perhaps, vice-presi-
dent. Although fear of anti-Semitism
makes it unlikely that a Jew could gain
the Republican or Dernscraticpreeiden
tial nomination in the near future, some
younger politicians believe that that bar-
rier too will fall...The fact is that Jews are
being elected to every position by every,
kind of constituency in every part of the

...Some critics of American Jewish life
dismiss the growth in observance of Cha-
nukah and Passover as a trivialization.
Many of those who light Chanukah can-
dles, they point out, do not recite (or
know) the blessings that are supposed to
accompany the ceremony, and many a
Passover seder is little more than a par
tictilarly warm family dinner party at
which matzoh-ball soup is served and a
prayer or two recited...The observations
are true enough; they also happen to be
beside the point, for they reflect a pro-
found misunderstanding of the nature of
the change that has occurred...Despite
the frequent forecasts of Judaism's im-
minent demise, secular Jews are tuning
to religious rituals to affirm their Jew-
ish identity...

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