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September 13, 1985 - Image 2

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-09-13

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2

Friday, September 13, 1985

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

PURELY COMMENTARY

PHILIP SLOMOVITZ

Synagogue Centrality: Inspiration, Challenges Within Its Guideposts

The religion of
Torah learned to do
without the Temple, but it
never dreamed of doing
without the synagogue."
"The essence of the
Synagogue is congrega-
tional worship and edifi-
cation, conducted by the
congregation through
their own members, not
by priests on their behalf
. . . To have created the
Synagogue is perhaps the
greatest practical
achievement of the Jews
in all their history."

These are among the definitive dec-
larations about the synagogue, and they
are from the writings of one of the most
distinguished Christian theologians of
the early years of this century. Robert
Travers Herford, the famous British
scholar, wrote the first of these two quo-
tations in his Pharisaisrn published in
1912. The second is from his Judaism in
the New Testament written in 1928.
They are compliments replete with in-
spirations.
Had these been codes defined by
Jewish scholars for their congregants,
they would be treated as genuine com-
mitments. They are different in nature.
They are the acclamations of apprecia-
tion for Jewish legacies by a Christian of
great eminence. They are compliments
for Jewry, and for the recipients of the
tributes they also indicate obligations to
themselves, their communities, and hu-
manity.
Rosh Hashanah induces ever-
contiuing concern over the Jewish re-
sponsibilities and all that is related to
the human aspects that involve the citi-
zenship obligation and the democratic
way of life for self and neighbor. Ours is
not a resolution-making season that
limits the calendar change to a "ring out
the old, ring in the new." It is much
more. It is a continuum.
Historical experience alerts us to the
agonizing as well as the pleasant in the
year obout to commence. There will be
anti-Semitism as an endless curse. Who
was it who said, "Anti-Semitism will end
with the last Jew"? There will never be
a last Jew! Therefore, victims of the in-
evitable must face up to indignities with
dignity, and with a realization that the
victimizers are always treated with con-
tempt by their fellow citizens. In a
civilized society good neighborliness
must prevail. This applies to the racially
as well as religiously differing, and faith
in the best in human nature will remain
a guideline.
The years ahead demand seriousnes s
in spiritual-cultural planning and th e
strengthening of commitments to th e
educatioal systems that assure identifi
cations based on knowledge of th e
legacies that guarantee links with th e
generations. It is a major way o f
strengthening the communities, of assur -
ing loyalties, possibly reducing escape s
resulting from mixed marriages
eliminating indifference to Jewish need s
which always threatens calamities fo ✓
Jewry.
With these obligations in view
Diaspora Jewry has a duty to protect the
gains attained in Israel, and to strive for
the Jewish state's protection against
whatever obstacles presently emerge on
the road to security. There is a need for
retention of the idealism without which
sovereignty for redeemed Israel is
menaced.

Obstructions to Hurdle

However immense the economic
difficulties, there are more serious obsta-
cles to overcome. That which threatens
the democratic way of life must be con-
fronted and tackled courageously. The
extreme fanaticism that has struck Is-
rael must be viewed as a world Jewish
obligation. Attempts to add divisiveness
between Jews and the non-Jewish popu-
lation is cause for contempt to be shared
by all Jewry.
Every element of medievalism that
comes into evidence in Israel contributes
to despair and encourages the yerida, the
exodus of Jewish professionals from Is-
rael, and must therefore be fought to the
extreme. This becomes a matter for con-
cern when a leader who preaches hatred
for Arabs comes here to solicit funds to
aid him in the hatemongering. That's
how an Israeli problem becomes a world
Jewish problem, demanding rejection of
whatever causes dissension in the
Jewish state.
A mounting of fears and suspicions
have created a great need for serious
tackling of problems that can undermine
the very existence of the Jewish state.
Therefore, consideration of them is as
important, if not more important, than
philanthropy. The best minds in Jewry
and all who cooperate in Israel's behalf
must beddrawn into efforts to avoid
calamities.
Reports to the effect that as many as
42 percent of the youth of Israel are be-
ginning to support extremism to the ex-
tent of advocating the expulsion of Arabs
from Israel compel judging realisically
such a threat to the very soul of Israel,
to the very roots of the Zionist ideals
that have led to the rebirth of Israel
Such panic-inciting evidences should be
confronted with every available weapon
to prevent its spreading and the joint ef-
forts of Diaspora and Israel should be
pooled in that direction.
This is a responsibility not to be ig-
nored.

Yerida Strikes At Very
Roots Of Israel's Fate

Diaspora will not be absolved if
yerida, the exodus of Jews from Israel,
will not be resolved and if Israel does not
retain hold on as large and as loyal a
population as is needed for national
existence.
The hundreds of thousands who
have left Israel for large Diaspora cen-
ters are now the subjects of urgent appe-
als from the government they have
abandoned to return under very favora-
ble conditions.
The estimated 420,000 Israelis who
have left their homes for a more lucra-
tive life elsewhere are condidered a "b-
rain drain." Now the government is of-
fering them high-paying jobs and im-
proved housing conditions. Enticing the
yordim also are free air fares and ship-
ping of household goods.
Because the 420,000 represent 12
percent of Israel's population, the return
home by many of them becomes another
aliyah, resettlement in the form of set-
tlement, to be encouraged by world
Jewry in Israel's behalf.
Chicago Tribune correspondent
Jonathan Broder, writing to his news-
paper from Jerusalem, quotes Yosef Priel
who wrote in the daily Davar,
"Yerida
no longer evokes anything more than an
expression of sorrow," adding: "The fact
is that yerida is no longer considered an
abomination."

Ben Shahn's 1955 painting, "Third Allegory."

It is on this score that Broder turned
to a native Detroiter, Jewish history P ri-
fessor Robert Rockaway, for an explana-
tion of the reasons for the occurring es-
caping by so many Israelis from their
problems in their homeland. Dr. Rocka-
way, who has made aliyah and now re-
sides in Israel with his sabra wife and
two children, informed Broder;

It should come as no great
shock that so many Israelis opt
to leave the country. Jews have
traditionally abandoned lands
where they felt oppressed — eco-
nomically, politically and reli-
giously — for countries which of-
fered them economic opportu-
nity, freedom and hope.
Raging inflation destroys sav-
ings and makes planning for the
future impossible. It destroys in-
itiative and fosters unethical
practices.

The yerida problem th
must not be treated as merely exposed
s
an Irael
i
problem. It is a matter for serious
con-
sideration by the Diaspora that wel-
comes the "defectors" because the yordim
become part of the target population at
which aliyah is directed with appeals to

settle in Israel. The yordim become re-
settlers and the plea to them is from the
People Israel in behalf of the State of Is-
rael.
While Israel becomes a major con-
cern in the new year's planning, there
are many factors that will surely remain
paramount on the calendar of oncoming
events. One of them will be the media.
There was much to complain about in
the past few years. While Israel draws
understandable attention as an impor-
tant factor in international affairs, some
of the emphases that were given to con-
flicts involving Arab-Israel relations had
evidence of prejudice. Much of it was due
to the expectations that Israel would al-
ways be more ethical.
Yet, the media are vital and must
not be underrated. They are dealing with
Jewry and Israel as significant elements
in the religious, political and diplomatic
spheres and must be lived with on a
basis of amicability.
There is need for pragmatic
guidelines in living with the media, and
an eminent publisher helps provide
them. Warren Phillips, publisher of the
Wall Street Journal, upon being awarded

Continued on Page 7

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