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January 30, 1987 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-01-30

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The School And Its Students: Our Chief Concern

Dr. Alvin I. Schiff, executive vice
president of the New York Board of Educa-
tion, has made known the distressing facts
about the decline of enrollment of students
in the afternoon schools in the New York
metropolitan region.
The reported steady decline in
enrollments over a 20-year period has
dropped to half.
Enrollment was at its peak in 1965
when 96,000 were enrolled. Now there are
51,000 students in 22 supplementary
schools in New York City and in Westches-
ter, Nassau and Suffolk counties.
Dr. Schiff stated that national enroll-
ment has fallen from a high of 540,000 in
1962 to 220,000.
Detroit falls into the general pattern
of educational experiences and enrollment
declination. Local current figures are:
Afternoon schools, kindergarten
through grade 12, 8,991 in 1965; 4,910 in
1985; with another slight drop in 1986 to
Day schools: 756 in 1965, going up in
1985 to 1,292, with another increase in
1986 to 1,311.
Nursery schools of the United Hebrew
Schools, 732 in 1977 and 1,178 in 1986.
In a comment on the decline of Detroit
area enrollment from 11,617 in the years
under consideration to 7,617, Peter M. Al-
ter, chairman of the Jewish education
committee of the Jewish Welfare Federa-

Dr. Alvin Schiff

Peter Alter

tion, makes the realistic judgement that
the decline in the Jewish population of
Metropolitan Detroit and the transfer of
residences by many young people to the
South and Southwest is partly accountable
for the enrollment decline.
In consideration of the continuing
problem, Mr. Alter should be taken seri-
ously when he asserts that "the decline in

figures does not necessarily represent a de-
crease in commitments to Jewish educa-
tion on the part of the existing Jewish
The fact that the day school idea,
which was propagated as a solution to
existing educational needs in the past two
decades, is showing marked gains is impor-
tant in tackling the issues involved.

The commitment to Jewish educa-
tional needs as a priority in communal
planning is a most heartening assurance
from Mr. Alter who speaks authoritatively
on behalf of the organized community
when he states:
"Detroit Jewish Welfare Federation,
as well as many other constituent parts of
the Detroit Jewish community, is deeply
commited to examining and improving De-
troit's Jewish education programming."
It can be assumed that the problem
aroused by the difficulty of encouraging
young Jews to train as teachers in Jewish
schools also will be pursued.
There is, however, a more serious chal-
lenge that relates to the successes of
Jewish school systems in this country. It is
the concern of parents and the attitudes of
families toward the vital need for identifi-
cation. Shortly after issuing his distressing
report on the decline of Jewish school
enrollments, Dr. Schiff, speaking in
Pittsburgh during its annual Jewish Edu-
cation Week observance, made this equally
distressing declaration:
"Jewish children today bring little or
no Jewish baggage to school. It is the na-
ture of the clientelle. The homes of many of
these pupils are devoid of Jewish experi-
ence. Most of the parents do not fully asso-
ciate themselves with the philosophy and
purposes of the school programs, nor do

Continued on Page 28

Prof. Richard Ellmann As The Literary Authority

If "the history of the world is the his-
tory of great men" (Thomas Carlyle), then
the eminence of distinguished Detroit per-
sonalities lends significance to those in our
midst and in the writing of and in assemb1 7
ing Detroit Jewry's records.
A gallery of notables commenced with
the recognition of the Columbia University
honors accorded native Detroit Prof. Mar-
shall Shulman, who is widely acclaimed as
one of the most authoritative public figures
on Russian affairs.
This leads us to another eminent aca-
demic, the native Detroiter Prof. Richard
Recognized as the most authoritative
scholar on James Joyce and W.D. Yeats,
Prof. Ellmann has completed extensive
studies on Oscar Wilde and it is being
awaited with great ardor as a biography
that will match the earlier extensive
These are not the only men of emi-
nence who have attained increased recog-
nition thanks to the Ellmann writings.
There are others who have been dealt with
by him. The Library of Congress has just
reissued a volume by Prof. Ellmann,
entitled Four Dubliners. They include the
biographies under the titles "Oscar Wilde
at Oxford," "W.B. Yeats' Second Puberty,"
"James Joyce In and Out of Art" and
"Samuel Beckett: Layman of Noland."
Now Oscar Wilde will be "in the cards"
as a Richard Ellmann product, and this
creates a new sensation. It introduces the
noted scholar who has a sense of the artis-
tic, a degree to be judged also as a sense of
humor. Indeed, it all alludes to a card
game. His publicist, Hilary James, 331 E.
60th St., New York, issued this announce-

Designed and produced by ar-
tist and publisher, Rosita Fanto, in
collaboration with professor
Richard Ellmann, the renowned
authority on the Irish writers
James Joyce, W.B. Yeats, Samuel
Beckett and Oscar Wilde, a won-
derfully unique set of playing
cards and limited edition book of

original drawings and texts per-
taining to the life and works of
Oscar Wilde has been created.

As a master of indolence and
hedonism both in his writings and
life, Oscar Wilde is a colorfully
appropriate subject for such an
unusual and intriguing deck of
playing cards, his ascent to literary
prominence and subsequent col-
lapse of fortune providing one of
the most brilliant and tragic se-
quences in the history of literature.
The Oscar Wilde playing cards
condense Wilde into pictorial form.
Three suits are based upon his
writings: Hearts are Instigations,
Clubs are Images and Diamonds
are Complications; the fourth,
Spades, are Happenings in Wilde's
life. Although Richard Ellmann,
Oscar Wilde's biographer, has de-
vised this fascinatingly provaca-
tive and intricate scheme, the
cards may be used as would any
ordinary deck.
This first, limited edition book
has been printed on an especially
made "Vergata Antique" paper in
Italy and the luxury boxed sets,
which comprise the book and two
decks of playing cards, are avail-
able in black, lilac, grey, green and
burgundy. Single and double
decks of the cards are also avail-
able in attractive, unusually de-
signed boxes.
Thus, Prof. Richard Ellmann the
famous author and academic becomes a
creator of playing cards.
His family background is noteworthy.
His father, the late James I. Ellmann, was
a Highland Park municipal judge. He was
an early Jewish Community Council
president and was a leader in local Zionist
tasks. He held the presidency of the Zionist
Organization of Detroit and traveled to
pre-Israel Palestine on study missions.
His mother, Jean Ellmann, had liter-
ary and artistic skills. She wrote poetry,

reviewed stage plays and operas for local
newspapers and was an encouragement for
the pursuit of literary efforts, thus in-
fluencing her sons.

Prof. Ellmann's brothers, Erwin and
William, are practicing law in Detroit.
The impressive career of Prof.
Ellmann has thus been assembled by his
fellow creators of the Oscar Wilde Card
Richard Ellmann was

Goldsmiths' Professor of English
Literature at Oxford from 1970 to
1984 and is now Woodruff Profes-
sor at Emory University. He is an
honorary fellow of New College
and an extraordinary fellow of
Wolfson College, Oxford. Born in
Highland Park, Michigan, he was
educated at Yale and at Trinity
College, Dublin. During the Sec-
ond World War he served in the

Continued on Page 28

`Exile, Enlightenment' Festschrift

When a scholar is accorded the honor
of having a festschrift compiled in his
honor, it afforms his recognition for honors
by his associates in academia.
This is the distinction to be accorded at
a festive occasion tomorrow at Oakland
University, marking a festschrift pre-
sentation to Prof. Guy Stern, presently
Wayne State University distinguished

There were occasions, very recently, to
take into account other such honors to dis-
tinguished scholars. Dr. Jacob R. Marcus of
Cincinnati and Prof. Sol Liptzin, who now
resides in Jerusalem, were given added
recognition in this column for festschrift
honors accorded them. Now it is an added
delight to treat a similar honor accorded a
fellow Detroiter.

In a festschrift, fellow scholars of the
academic honored deal with important
subjects of historic and human interest. In
the Stern festschrift, this established pol-
icy is pursued. It echoes sentiments that
take into account the background of the
honoree, his distinction as linguist, his de-
votion to music, his mastering of pedagogy.
The title of the volume in his honor has
special significance. Added to the
"Enlightenment" tribute is the reminder
that Dr. Stern is an "Exile." This is of great
importance in treating the experiences of
the scholar.

Guy (named Guenther at birth) Stern
attended Jewish schools in Hildesheim,
Germany, and at 15 he was brought to St.
Louis, Mo. by an uncle and aunt and by the
Childr9n's Committee on affidavits then
demanded by the U. S Tmmigration and
Justice departments. This is the symbol of
the "Exile" who rose to academic heights in
his pursuance of scholarship.
He became a self-made and self-
protecting aspirant for U. S. citizenship. In
a typical fashion of earning his way —
Nothing was too difficult for him — he was
bus boy, waiter, and from dining room to
classroom was his way of attaining success.
Inducted into the U.S. Army, he
served in military intelligence and as an
interrogator of prisoners of war, and
earned the Bronze Star.
It is the fact that he never forgot his
"Exilic" role that lends importance to the
honor now accorded him. He has kept ac-
count of the Holocaust as it struck others
who did not escape from Nazi Germany,
wrote about the tragedies, helped in keep-
ing reminders of it so that the "Never
Again" should symbolize his life's aims.
That is why in the ranks of those hon-
oring him is Wayne State University and
WSU Press, University of Cincinnati,
other state universities and their scholars
and the Leo Baeck Institute.
All honor to Prof. Guy Stern upon
being acclaimed in a festschrift.

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