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February 20, 1987 - Image 2

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-02-20

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

PURELY COMMENTARY

PHILIP SLOMOVITZ

Israel-In-Limelight Remarkably Dramatized

New York Times Magazine, Feb. 1,
frontpaged that issue's major feature
essay with these introductory words of its
author, Thomas Friedman:
In seven years of reporting
from the Middle East, I have
faced no question more fre-
quently than this: Why the fasci-
nation with Israel? Sometimes it
comes from angry readers de-
manding to know why Israel oc-
cupies almost as much news
space as the Soviet Union. Some-
times I find myself reporting on
some minor incident on the West
Bank and wondering why editors

`Respect And Suspect':
Cardinal O'Connor And
`Evenhanded Friends'

Jews, especially Zionist spokes-
people, had many experiences with the
"dear friends" who made pledges, sang
Hossanas in support of major Jewish
movements, and then made an about-
face. If enemies of Zionism were angered
by their supporting statements made to
Jews, they issued supplementary dec-
larations that negated their "flattery" to
Jews.
That's when "evenhandedness"
gained an important spot in treatment of
Jews. State Department officials, and
often the White House, were guilty of it.
That's when we, at our end, were re-
minded of a famous admonition:Kabdehu
v'hashdehu – "Respect and Suspect."
Should John Cardinal O'Connor and
the Vatican be advised about it? The Car-
dinal, whose Jerusalem visit became a
Vatican-interjected fiasco, followed up
his blunders by hosting an evenhanded-
ness to Arabs in an antagonism-to-Israel
fashion.
Should it be ignored, or should it

Continued on Page 32

define it as news. And sometimes,
as in the Iran affair, I realize it is
Israel that, by its own actions, has
involved itself in global politics.
This commencement of an invitation
to participate in the study of a most il-
luminating, internationally-intrigued
subject, together with the very title of the
Friedman article, "The Focus on Israel,"
immediately emphasize the approach to a
most exciting subject on the calendar of
human concerns.
Friedman's seven years as New York
Times correspondent in Israel are re-
markably descriptive in this essay. The
very able foreign correspondent emerges
as a brilliant student of history. In all his
responsibilities as the representative of
his newspaper he never shunned facts.
He did not hide the negatives, while re-
cording the positives. In this essay he is
the student of the Jewish character, of the
Jewish ethos, of the ethics and moralities.
He proves, as he should have, the
influence of the Bible, of the Prophetic
dreams and their aspirations to fulfill-
ment of them.
The role of the media in Israel is ex-
plained and the reader becomes aware of
the magnetism of the nation and the land,
and therefore the allusion to the fascina-
tion.
Perhaps the answer to questions
posed could be provided in three words. In
the bitter years of Hitlerism and
Coughlinism, when many years were
saddened by the over-use of the word Jew
in news reports and headlines, we com-
forted them with "Jews ARE News."

True or false? Thomas Friedman
proves its truth. He shows why a
thousand reporters, foreign correspon-
dents, converge upon Israel, cover its
Jewish scene, delve into history, prove —
consciously or not — the universality of
their mission and of the people Israel —

and Jewry! — who become their topics to
be covered.
Young Jews should read Friedman's
analyses and they will surely become
enthusiasts over the fascination on the
agenda.
They will surely conclude that there
is the fascination in Jewish continuity, in
the uninterrupted image, from the very
beginning of time. They will find it in the
Bible, which is not ignored by Friedman,
and the endlessness of it all.
The endlessness and continuity need
emphasis.
There is the tradition, in the syna-
gogue, with its influence on the home,
that when the year's reading portions of
the Holy Scriptures are concluded, there
is an immediate recommencement of the
beginning, of Genesis. Thus, the com-
mitment never ends.
Therefore the power of the Hazak
Hazak at the conclusion of the reading
and story of each portion in the Scrip-
tures.
Our favorite interpreter of this fas-
cinating commitment, Dr. Philip
Birnbaum, in his Jewish Concepts,
enriched us with this definition:

Hazak Hazak! !piri

7.7

At the completion of any of
the Five Books of Moses, read
publicly in the synagogue, the
congregation stands up and
exclaims: Hazak, Hazak v'nit-
zhazak ("Be strong, be strong, and
let us take courage!". This
unanimous response on the part
of the congregation is reminis-
cent of the expressionHazak v'nit-
zhazak voad omanu ("Be strong,
and let us be of good courage for
our people!") in II Samuel 10:12
and I Chronicles 19:13. This is un-
derstood to mean: Let us gather

Thomas Friedman

courage to live in accordance
with the teachings contained in
each of the five books of the To-
rah. The Sephardim are accus-
tomed to greet the person who is
honored with being called up to
the Torah by saying Hazak ovrod.
Thomas G. Friedman introduced
queries about "fascination." Implied are
the intrigues and enthusiasms that make
Israel, and the Jewish people, the people
with a world character. Even the
explanatory three words "Jews ARE
News" do not sufficiently define the his-
toric role of the People Israel. Neverthe-
less, Friedman suggested the basic factor.
It is the Jewish commitment. That's the
emphasis that makes the fascination a
reality.

Immensely Creative Hadassah Retold In Szold Tradition

All the enthusiastic celebrations
marking the 75th anniversary of Hadas-
sah, the American women's Zionist
organization, do not begin to portray the
immensity of the movement and its crea-
tive record.
A great lady created it, and it never
failed to live up to the image she
envisioned, to the needs adhered to, to the
inspiration with which the obligations
were carried out during the decades
which demanded responses, always on
the highest level.
When the movement first was set
into motion, the Yishuv in Palestine
needed nursing services, impoverished
Jewish children were to be cared for,
there were diseases to be overcome. Hen-
rietta Szold brought their messages to
American motherhood. Later she settled
in Palestine and personally supervised
the activities under the name of Hadas-
sah.
In pre-Israel Palestine there was
even more to be done. There was a com-
munity to be protected and generations to
be trained in adherence to the ideals
promulgated by the Zionist aspirations.
Miss Szold was there in a leadership role.
Then came the decades of many
tragedies, and she and her movement
came to the rescue for tens of thousands of
children who were brought to the Jewish
National Home under the appealing

The spirit of Youth Aliyah and the
response to the great duties undertaken
by Hadassah elevated the women's
movement to the highest ranks of
humanism and Jewish moral, ethical and
social achievements.

Henrietta Szold

name of Youth Aliyah. This achieving
rescue effort remains indelibly recorded
in Jewish history as one of the greatest
achievements in saving children from the
impending tragedies that struck a mil-
lion more Jewish children who perished
in the Hitler death camps.

They all began and continued as a
product of the idealism of Henrietta
Szold. She was a remarkably accom-
plished woman. She began as a teacher
and in reality she always taught the gen-
erations under her influence. She had
great literary skills and will always be
remembered as the translator of the
Heinrich Graetz History of the Jewish
People that was published by the Jewish
Publication Society in six volumes. She
was the first editor of the initial volumes
of the Jewish Publication Society's
American Jewish Year Books. Such
achievements were and remain un-
matched in literary devotion and ability.
My personal recollection of the great
lady was when I was active nationally as
well as locally in the early and formative
years of the Young Judaea movement
with David deSola Pool, David
Schneeberg, Emanuel Neumann, Israel
Goldstein and others who left their mark
on Zionist and Jewish history. I was with
Henrietta Szold when Na Emanuel
Neumann was her associate and secre-
tary on Zionist cultural committees. They

were memorable days, to share the
enthusiasm of the dedicated to a great
ideal.
There is a local aspect to the Hen-
rietta Szold aspect in Hadassah and
Zionism. The Detroit Hadassah begin-
nings were as immediate as the national.
The first local president was Miriam Her-
shman, the wife of Rabbi A.M. Her-
shman. A native of Eretz Israel from the
historically famous Lewin-Epstein fam-
ily, she gave to the idea the strength that
came from pioneers. The second president
was Mrs. Noah E. Aronstam, whose home
was a constant gathering place for schol-
ars and authors. Her husband, Dr. N.E.
Aronstam, performed in the Jewish tra-
dition as physician and author of many
scholarly works, novels and poetry. He
was the second president of the Detroit
District of the Zionist Organization of
America, Rabbi Abraham M. Hershman
having preceded him as the first.
This community, paying respect to
the Hadassah pioneers and its founder,
has reason to be proud of a continuity that
has earned admiration for the women's
Zionist movement. Hadassah accom-
plishments are accounted for by a dedi-
cated leadership. While serving Hadas-
sah, they have given and continue to give
much of their efforts to Israel, this com-
munity and the nation. That's something
to boast about.

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