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April 03, 1987 - Image 6

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-04-03

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HyprocisyT. .1n. ACtiOt! -

Israel's relationship with South Africa will be making headlines
this week, as the result of a Reagan Adnainistration report noting that
arms suppliers in: the Jewish state are providing weapons to Pretoria..
As the 'debate grows,.it is helpful to keep the facts in perspective by
noting the levels of moral hypocrisy at play here.
Israel is as strong as any country in its opposition to apartheid,
but she is skeptical about the real impact of economic sanctions on
' South Africa, especially in light of the fact that Pretoria produces 90
percent of its own military -arms. (See Op-Ed on Page 7.)
Still, in part due to pressure from Washington, the Jerusalem
government has decided not to enter into new military contracts with
South Africa.
, In all, Israel's trade with South Africa amounts to less than
one-half of one percent of South Africa's exports and three-quarters of
one percent of her imports. By comparison, the United States' trade
amounts to 8.2 percent of South Africa's trade export; Japan, 7.4
percent; Britain, 6.4 percent; and - Switzerland 8 percent.
Even on the military front, Israel's exports to South Africa do not
compare with a country like France, 'which sold Pretoria 860
surface-to-air missiles in 1980, and granted licenses for the production
of other missiles, Mirage fighter aircraft and armored cars.
Israel's total trade with South Africa is in volume lesa than 20
•percent of'that between Pretoria and Black Africa. Though there is an
Organization of African Unity (OAU) ban on trade with South Africa,
46 of the 52 OAU states have commercial ties with Pretoria.
. South Africa buys 84 percent of her oil from Saudi Arabia, the
United Arab Emirates and Oman, a prospering relationship that
amounted to just under $10 billion between 1980 and 1984 — despite a
1979 United Nations embargo on oil shipments to South Africa.
The fact is that in the real world, economic ties often transcend
political differences. America trades with the Soviet Union, Black
Africa trades with South Africa. Why, then, is it Israel that is
scrutinized and condemned?

needy. Detroit Jews. Thousands more have been raised through local
synagogues to be sent to the Jewish poor overseas and in Israel.
The Detroit Jewish'community prides itself on taking care of its
own and helping its neighbors. Our communal institutions have done
an enviable job in taking care of less fortunate Jews, and we have also
been generous in our support of community-wide causes. A fledgling
national organization, however,. has struck a spark in Detroit and it is
a spark that deserves to be fanned into a major fire.
Rabbi A. Irving Schnipper of Beth Abraham Hillel Moses is
heading up Mazon in Detroit (See Page 1). The Los Angeles-based
project is less than two years old, but it has already raised and
distributed more than $100,000 through existing feeding programs
throughout the 'country. In effect, Mazon asks Jews to tax themselves
by contributing three percent of the cost of any party to help feed the
In advance of Passover, a donation to Mo'ot Chitim will allow
needy Jews to celebrate the holiday with dignity. And at the time of a
family party or celebration, a self-imposed tax amounting to a small
percentage of the cost of the celebration will help fellow human beings.

Food For Thought

Several hundred demonstrators braved winter's return Monday night
to sleep out on the Kern block downtown to dramatize the plight of the
homeless. At the same time, thousands of dollars worth of Passover foods
are being distributed by the local Mo'ot Chititn.volunteers to hundreds of


II/hither The

The article by . Rabbi Price
regarding ordination of
women as cantors was very
thought provoking (Op-Ed,
March 6). Unfortunately; I
doubt that many Conserva-
tive JeVis read the article,
and I expect that most don't
even know or care what the
shouting is all about. That is
much sadder than the issues
Rabbi Price raised.
For many years, Conserva-
tive Judaism has claimed to
•be halachically devoted, al-
beit with an eye toward the
development, rather than of},
sification, of Halachah. This
is' a grand proposition from
which to operate.
However,-,and this is a big
however, the Conservative
rabbinate, from the seminary
outward,, has failed to main-
tain an interested, vital, well
educated "laity" (although
Jndaism really does not have
such a class of people).
Was there an emphasis on

kashrut? -Was there a split in
( the movement because many
Conservative Rabbis do not
insist upon the strictest
standards in or of their con-
gregations? No..Was there an
emphasis on Shabbat? Was
there a split in the 'movement
because there are Conser-
vatibe rabbis who almost go,
out of their-way to be inob-
servant of Shabbat, and who
lower themselves to the level
of observance of their congre-
gations rather than setting a
standard of observance? No.
Was there a split' in the
movement over tefillah,
wherein Conservative rabbis
demanded that officers and
board members, let alone
congregants, attend shul
rather than football games,
ancLdaven somehwere during
the week? Again. no.
Rather than educating
those Who belong to the
movement --- keeping up
with Halachah on a regular
basis inlerma which are not
phenomenally technical, the
-Conservative rabbinate chose


to do "scholar-in-residence"
weekends, or bursts of "adult
education classes." But for
decades there has been no
sustained effort at basic edu-
cation on matters of the ut-
most concern!
As a result, Conservative
Judaism has in many places
devolved to and centered it-
self on issues of secular con-
cern translating intethe reli-
gious arena. Are women in
the United States coming
into their own? Yes? Then
let's get on the bandwagon,
by all means! Many Orthodox
circles will face these issues
as well, as Orthodox women
become more a part of the
secular world, so Conserva-
tives are not alone in having
to deal with this. However,
the focus is different for 'the
Conservathie movements. It
orients itself toward the Re-
form movement and lets them
set its agenda, rather than
setting its own. They admit
women as rabbis; we admit
women' as rabbis. They dis-
cuss patrilineal descent; we


discuss patrilineal descent.
Getting back to the issue of
women as a trigger to my let-
ter ... I 'am not a scholar,
nor have I been ordained. I
have, because of my position
as ritual committee chairman
in a large synagogue, been
required to read and learn as
much as I could about
women's participation in
ritual in a short amount of
time. There are •no answers,
but there are a lot of complex
Over the ages, authorities'
have debated whether and
how women may participate
in ritual. There are many
good arguments on all sides.
But the fact of the matter is
that women have not gener-
ally been rabbis or cantors, or
participated ritually on an
equally obligated footing with
men, for hundreds of years.
To change that without a
serious, lengthy, process of
general debate and education
is to' once • more weaken the
Conservative movement. Not
because of the ultimate posi


tion reached; but because it is
reached without the enroll-
ment of those who make up
the movement.
I assert that all is not lost.
Even today, if the Conserva-
rn to its
tive rabbinate can tu
primary mission education
and supervision of the
spiritual well being of its
congregants the movement
can be revitalised'. If we can
focus again, on the "Conserva-
tive" portion of the move-
ment's , name; we can move
forward with pride. Many
may leave'the movement and
formally join the Reform or
Reconstructionist branches of
Judaisin. Many others may
not Thin(iii 'not to say ..that
Rabbi Price has' the answer.
Or even that he has the ques-
tion .: . Idon't believe he
hai raised .a
piiotal issue about where the
focus of 'our debates should
be For that, I thank him..
And I thank you for printing
his article,
Leenard L Wanetik
Lathrop Village


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