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April 25, 1986 - Image 30

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-04-25

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

1111

-

4.4 Y

30 Friday, April 25, 1986

dra r,"'ilibeh artau

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

MEN'S CLUB of CONGREGATION SHAAREY ZEDEK

is proud to honor

OP-ED

REV. JAMES LYONS

Founder and Director of the Ecumenical Institute
for Jewi41-Christion Studies
• as our

Death Penalty

MAN OF THE YEAR

Continued from Page 4

at our Men's Club Shabbat Services May 3, 1986

Services 9 a m., Rabbi Groner's Sermon 11:40 a.m.
Luncheon honoring "Jim" at 12:30 p.m.
Adults - $10, Children - $5

(payment in advance - can't accept money on Shabbat)
Please send check to: Cong. Shaarey Zedek
27375 Bell Rd., Southfield, Ml. 48086
Phone: Selma Lerner 357-5544, Arnold Michlin 626-1570
Mark London 661-9091

rjr Over three generations of service, value
confidence & professionalism

The Finest Expressions of Love comes from

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There were several jurisdic- ing. The latter would include the
tions in ancient Israel adjudicat- modern category of limited men-
ing offenses. Minor transgres- tal capacity or temporary insan-
sions were judged by a tribunal of ity while the- crime was being
three experts. Major crimes came committed. A person convicted of
to the attention of a superior accidental slaying was permitted
court of 23 persons sitting in to reach a City of Refuge where
Jerusalem. The court of last re- he could remain safey away from
sort, with jurisdiction in rare of- the power of the avenger, until
fenses, was the Great Sanhedrin the death of the reigning High
of 71 judges also sitting in Priest. Upon the demise of that
Jerusalem. Only the most official, he would return, with
learned were appointed to the impunity, to his home and re-
courts of 23 and finally 71. Again, sume his former life.
If the court judges the slaying
no one was permitted to sit in
judgment of a person to whom he deliberate, sentence of death was
was related. The judges had to passed. There was great reluc-
tance to pass such judgment. A
treat all litigants alike.
Accuser and accused either Sanhedrin proclaiming the death
stood or sat in front of the judges. sentence once in seven years was
It was not permissible for the .called "destructive." Rabbi
litigants to influence the judges Eleazar ben Azaryah said: "Once
in any way; they had to wear in 70 years," The eminent schol-
similar clothes. Otherwise, the ars Tarphon and Akiva stated: "If
more opulent might have gained we had been members of a
an advantage over the poor. If 12 Sanhedrin, never would a person
judges acquit and 11 convict, the have been executed" (Mak.1, 10).
accused is innocent. If 12 convict A person put to death can never
and 11 acquit, judges are added to be restored. Exile or lifetime
secure a majority to declare him prison were alternatives.
innocent.
In all fairness, we must add the
The Talmud states (Sanhedrin statement made by Rabban
17a): "If a Sanhedrin is unanim- Simon ben Gamliel, a slightly
ous for conviction, the prisoner is younger contemporary of these
to be acquitted." Surely, prej- outstanding rabbis at the head of
udice against the accused must the Beth Din in his generation.
be at work, if no one can find He opined, "In that case they
mitigating circumstances and would have multipled the shed-
vote for acquittal.
ding of blood in Israel." Much of
Much depends on the motive of the attitude toward the death
the crime. The Law of Moses con-
penalty was influenced by the se-
tains the distinction between vere attitude of the Roman gov-
premediated and accidental slay- ernment toward imposing this

13 Area Rabbis Support
Death Penalty Opposition

A prayer service and rally
against the death penalty will be
held 3 p.m. Sunday on the Kern
Block, Woodward and Monroe.
The rally is sponsored by Reli-
gious Leaders Against the Death
Penalty (RLADP), the Michigan
Coalition for Human Rights and
the Michigan Coalition'. Against
the Death Penalty.
The Kern Block is in the area
where the last Michigan execu-
tion was held in 1830. Following
the rally, participants will walk
.six blocks to Central United
Methodist Church at Woodward
and Adams where a play, The
13-; Man, will be shown. Thirteen
cents is the cost of electricity used
to execute a person in an electric
chair.
Thirteen ant rabbis have
endorsed a statement by the
RLDAP against the death pen-
alty. The 13 are: .
Rabbi Kenneth Cohen, Cong.
Shaarey Zedek; Rabbi Ernst Con-
rad, Temple Kol Ami; Rabbi
Irwin Groner, Cong. Shaarey
Zedek; Rabbi Harold Loss, Tem-
ple ,Israel; Rabbi David Nelson,
Cong. Beth 'Shalom; Rabbi Nor-
man Roman, Temple Beth El;
Rabbi Gerald Schuster, Temple
Beth El (Flint); Rabbi Efry
Spectre, Adat Shalom
Synagogue; Rabbi Robert Syme,
Temple Israel; Rabbi Richard
Weiss, Temple Beth Jacob (Pon-
tiac); Rabbi Lane Steinger,.Tera-
ple Emann-El;-Rahbi Richard C. -

Hertz, Temple Beth-El; and
Rabbi Dannel Schwartz, Temple
Beth El.
The statement said in part:
"Both proponents and oppo-
nents of the death penalty can
find ample support for their re-
spective posijions in Jewish
sources.° We oppose capital
punishment. We do so on reli-
gious, 'spiritual sand theological
grounds. We believe that the di-
vine spirit is present in the world
acting through justice and
through mercy. We therefore de-
mand that justice be carried out
for all crimes, but that it ad-
ministered with compasion.
"We decry violence and sym-
pathize' with its victims, but we
insist that violence must not be
institutionalized. We revere life
and lament its lois or degrada-
tion through criminal acts, but
we adamantly oppose taking the
lives of criminals.
"We join with the American
Jewish Committee, the Central
Conference of American Rabbis
(Reform), the Jewish Peace Fel-
lowship, the National Jewish
Community Relations Advisory
Council, the Rabbinical Assem-
bly (Conservative), the
Synagogue Council of America
(interdenominational), the Union
of American Hebrew Congrega-
tions (Reform) in opposing the
death penalty and in calling for
its abolition in those places
where it exists . . " - , t ,

.rt; ty

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