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September 12, 1986 - Image 2

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-09-12

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PURELY COMMENTARY

PHILIP SLOMOVITZ

Anniversaries Unlimited

Anniversaries are multiple on the
calendar of events. They are especially
numerous currently, with the Jewish
Welfare Federation dominating the
limelight; the Jewish Community Coun-
cil's 50th approaching, and many others.
As anniversaries go, there should be
no ignoring such as the Jewish National
Fund Council of Detroit. Federation an-
niversary celebrants will do well to re-
member and recognize such elders.
On the national and world scales it
requires the knowledge of Dr. Jacob R.
Marcus, the American Jewish Archives'
chief, to provide a complete or nearly
complete record of events of importance
and personalities who have enriched
them. "Jake" Marcus has been doing just
that for our readers annually for many
years. He will hopefully continue that
task in his archival capacity.
There is one anniversary he is un-
aware of. It is mine and Purely Com-
mentary's.
An exact count is very difficult; yet;
it is possible that this column, or one
approximating it, is the 3,500th. It com-
menced in 1920 and has been uninter-
rupted these 66 years, except for the two
weeks I sat shivah for my parents. Then
Psalms were substituted for continuing
contents.
Purely Commentary commenced
during my editorship of the Detroit
Jewish Chronicle, continuing in The De-
troit Jewish News, with many years of
syndication.
Does Number 3,500 or its approxi-
mation merit a newspaper column being
rated among acknowledged anniver-
saries?
In this Jewish Welfare Federation
year of jubilation there can be no ignor-
ing the fact that Purely Commentary is
six years older than Federation. It has
chronicled the major events in Federa-
tion programming. It has differed on
many issues and has also been, hopefully
continuing in that role, the inspiration
for the best there is in communal
creativity.
They were dramatic years, filled
with tensions and tragedies. There was a
measure of triumph. The challenges
were immense, some of the failures ag-
gravating in retrospect.
On the home front, mostly
Federation-wife, progress was being
made step-by-step. Sinai Hospital
emerged into the present great medical
facility. The Hebrew Hospital Associa-
tion with which I was associated, becom-
ing a life member of its board of direc-
tors, created the public endorsing senti-
ment that erased the opposition from
most of the leadership. It was a triumph
of the craving of the masses over the op-
position of the classes. The Home for the
Aged was moved from the old Edmond
Place shabbiness into its present im-
mense image. Many other needs were
and are being fulfilled, with an emphasis
on support for Israel. An atmosphere
that was partially antagonistic to the
movement has become favorable to the
Zionist ideal.
Supplementing the services of the
operating Federation agencies is the so-
cial service and Jewish Community Cen-
ter encouragement given to a very im-
portant movement that has gained com-
munal acclaim β€” that of the Jewish
Association for Retarded Citizens β€”
JARC. This important dignity-providing
cause can boast of leadership that has
fulfilled a great need by acquiring the
necessary finances without depending on
the dominant Federation. The coopera-

2

Friday, September 12, 1986

And One Editorially Personalized

tion in the social service function is
nevertheless commendable.
In another sphere, the ecumenical,
Federation lends a cooperative hand. It
does not finance the needs of the Detroit
Round Table but is always encouraging
it. It had a share in its start, which is
worth recalling. Dr. Everett Clinchy, the
organizing executive director of the Na-
tional Conference of Christians and
Jews, came to me as the then editor of
the Detroit Jewish Chronicle, some six
decades ago, and asked that I intercede
for financial aid. I went to Federation
and secured a $100 allocation. Dr. Clin-
chy proceeded to form the Detroit Round
Table of the National Conference of
Christians and Jews. β€’
Such were beginnings that in their
continuity assured Federated action that
leads to communal maturity.
It is on the national and world
fronts that the past seven decades have
recorded an historiography that is surely
reflected on commentaries that had to be
affected by the events that challenged
the world and therefore have their evi-
dences in these columns.
Chaim Weizmann's autobiography
was entitled Trial and Error. Because
there may have been as many failures as
there were successes, this is a title that
could apply to the historiography.
The chronicles of the decades are
marked by the glory of Israel's rebirth.
They are marked by the horrors that
were perpetrated by the Germans. There
were the years preceding both when
tyranny ruled for Jews in Poland and
Romania, when anti-Semitism often
emerged in its ugliness. The bigotry of
Henry Ford II was only one example of
hate, much of which has now fortunately
been erased. Much still remains to be ob-
literated. The Ford matter will be
treated here a bit later.
In the years under consideration,
there were important collaborations of
Jews and Christians in support of the
Zionist ideal. With very few exceptions
the Michigan Congressional Delegation
supported the U.S. endorsement of
Zionist aspirations for restored statehood
in Palestine. Congressman John D.
Dingell played an important part in
these tasks. Senators Arthur H. Van-
denberg, James Couzens, Homer Fergu-
son were in the forefront with
encouragement.
Symbolic in these tasks was this
telegraphic cheer from Senator Vanden-
berg, reproduced on these pages.

Frank Murphy, who rose from the
mayoralty of Detroit to the governorship
of Michigan and on to the U.S. Supreme
Court, was always responsible, both in
support of Congressional actions as. well
as the protests against British failures to
adhere to the principles embodied in the
Balfour Declaration and subsequent
pledges to Jewry. One of the most effec-
tive demonstrations that assumed na-
tional importance in demands that Brit-
ain honor the responsibilities to world
Jewry and its historic aims in the
Jewish National Home was the overflow
rally he addressed in the then Detroit
Opera House on Lafayette.
Support from some important Jews
was more difficult to secure than from
non-Jews. It was a difficult struggle. The
dedicated Zionist forces were unyielding
and the struggle continued.
The urgency to assure the rescue of
Jews from the Nazi threats created a
double duty: the continuing duty to st-
rive for an open door to Palestine by
Britain and the battle against Nazism
and the search for other havens of refuge
for the victims of Hitlerism. The priority

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

COPY OF TELEGRAM TO MR. SLOMOVITZ

Washington, D.C. May 19, 1939
5.16 P.M.

Philip Slomovitz,
Detroit, Mich.

I BELIEVE TODAY MORE THAN EVER IN THE ZIONIST HOME IN
PALESTINE. AS A MEMBER OF THE ORIGINAL CHRISTIAN PROP-
ALESTINE COMMITTEE I THOUGHT I SAW A GREAT VISION. IT IS
CLEARER THAN EVER TODAY AND THE INHUMANITY OF MAN
MAKES IT MORE LOGICAL AND MORE ESSENTIAL THAN EVER. I
EMPHATICALLY FAVOR EVERY COOPERATION THAT AMERICA
CAN GIVE TO THE PROMISED CULMINATION OF THIS PROMISED
JEWISH HOMELAND. THE BALFOUR ASSURANCES SHOULD NOT
DEFAULT. THE JEWS OF THE WORLD TOOK THEM IN GOOD
FAITH AND HAVE INVESTED HEART AND FORTUNE IN THEM.
THEY HAVE A RIGHT TO EVERY INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION
IN BEHALF OF THIS JEWISH HOMELAND. COUNT UPON MY
INTEREST TO THE LIMIT.

SENATOR A. H. VANDENBERG.

demanded by the Zionist forces for Pales-
tine created some disharmony. Now
there is the frequent charge that insuffi-
cient demands had been made for other
escape routes. Nevertheless, it was the
defiance of the British and the determi-
nation of the battlers for free access to
Palestine that at least assured escape for
the many thousands who secured homes
in Palestine under means the British
called "illegal."

Under wide discussion now is "the
guilt" in failures fully to facilitate what-
ever could be done to carry on rescue ac-
tivities and to prevent the information
about the concentration and death camps
from reaching public knowledge.
The guilt was so widespread that it
is appalling to recall it. When the press
of the free world was informed about the
mass murder it treated it as "atrocity
stories."

The U.S. Consular Corps have a
criminal record for their treatment of
applicants for visas from the hell created
by Hitler. The White House and State
Department share in the guilt.
And the Jewish communities and
especially the Jews of America? We
awoke to the danger but it got to be too
late. Too many of us slumbered. Too
many were not even sufficiently helpful
in the Zionist tasks to secure the dillapi-
dated boats to take escapees from the
Nazis to Palestine, in the heroic tasks to
evade the British authorities who tried
to stop the "illegal traffic." Too many
panicked when they were taunted in
their loyalties to our nation when the
inhumane consular actions were chal-
lenged.

There was an awakening and all of
us must admit possessing a share in the
guilt.
The compensation was in the rebirth
of Israel, and in that realization there
was a great measure of unity.
Should these recollections be judged
as confessionals? In any event, they are
part of an anniversary chronicle that
confronts my family of loyal readers of
this page every Friday. It is my Shabbat
Shalom to the community.

Nota Bene

Columnists who write regularly for
their newspapers often assume the lib-
erty to reveal matters of a personal na-
ture and experience, such as being hos-
pitalized, differing with relatives and
friends and intimacies the readers often
enjoy. Why can't I have a bit of such
freedom? Let me relate it by recalling a
ditty from sophomore days in Ann Arbor.
What we hummed included these lines:

In these days of indigestion .. .
Some little bug is gonna get you,
Some little bug will creep behind
you . . .
A "little bug" must have started in
my direction from then on, from '19 to
'86, catching up with me on Sinai Hospi-
tal's Fifth Floor. The medical term given
the culprit is "Positive Culture in the
Blood." The "little bug" was stopped in
its tracks by compassionate healers, Dr.
A. Martin Lerner and Dr. Raphael Kiel,
who worked together with Dr. Henry
Green and Dr. Robert Bloom and their
staffs: with the cooperation on Sinai
Hospital's Fifth Floor with Dr. Mark
Selitsky and a' friendly, cooperative and
responsive bevy of nurses.
The "little bug" has earned this
notoriety because it is responsible for
this Commentary column, and the two
previous ones (issue of Aug. 29 and Sept.
5) having been produced in hospital garb
on Sinai's fifth. This legendary "little
germ" also is an accomplisher: it caused
my resurrecting, for use after a lapse of
some 24 years, of the portable typewriter
I used in the Jerusalem press room to
report on the Adolf Eichmann trial for
myself (Detroit Jewish News) and the De-
troit Free Press.
Is this too much "I"β€”ing for one
who tried to avert the personal "I" and
most of his life used mainly the editorial
"We"? Would that I could blame every-
thing challenging on the "little bug."
Now let's try to get to the editorial "We!"
Many thanks to the numerous
well-wishers who provided cheers for me
and Anna with their heartening mes-
sages and contributions to worthy causes
during our hospitalizations.

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