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May 01, 1987 - Image 30

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-05-01

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

4

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30 . Friday, May 1, 1987

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

OP-ED

SPRING IS

Flint
Oak Brook Square
3192 Linden Road
Across (nun Genessee
Valley Mall
Mon . Fri & Sat 10-9
Tues Thurs 10-7
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Peace With Neighbors

Continued from Page 7

deaths of millions of Poles
and Ukrainians. True, not all
died in Nazi concentration
camps, but millions did, and
most suffered from the rav-
ages inflicted by the German
war machine during battles
and during times of occupa-
tion.
But I do not wish to discuss
Poles, Jews, and Ukrainians
at any length here. I do,
however, want to discuss the
relationship of American
Poles, American Jews, and
American Ukrainians. I
should best begin by recount-
ing the efforts that all three
communities have made to
work together in recent
years. In about 1977, Father
Ronald Modras and Father
Leonard Chrobot, through the
auspices of the Detroit
Jewish Community Council,
began to meet primarily to
enlist our help in dealing
with the defamatory nature
of the Polish jokes then being
circulated. These discussions
led to a meeting at which the
"Orchard Lake Statement"
was formulated. This declara-
tion, named after the locale
of the meeting, St. Mary's
College at Orchard Lake,
Michigan, was written
primarily by Rabbi Marc
Tannenbaum of the American
Jewish Committee with the
approval of all Polish Ameri-
can and Jewish American
leaders present. This docu-
ment, in essence, proclaims
the dedication of both com-
munities to the eradication of
ethnic and religious defama-
tion and stereotyping; to the
preservation of human rights
in all nations; and it ac-
knowledges the right of Israel
to exist in the hostile
environment of the Middle
East, and expresses the hope
that a free democratic society
be allowed to emerge in Po-
land.
The Orchard Lake meeting
led to the formation of the
National Polish American/
Jewish American Task Force
co-sponsored by the Polish
American Congress and the
American Jewish Committee.
This group, since 1979, has
met at leaSt trimestrally in
cities like Detroit, Washing-
ton, D.C., Cleveland,
Pittsburgh, Philadelphia,
New York, Buffalo, Chicago,
St. Louis and Milwaukee.
Our April meeting was -held
again in Pittsburg and the
next is scheduled for Los
Angeles in the fall. About 30
to 50 individuals usually
attend and are representative
of the business, academic,
civic, political, cultural, and

Harold D. Gales is co-chair
of the National
Polish-AmericanlJewish
American Task Force and a
member of the national
board of governors,
American Jewish Committee.

religious segments of both
communities. Our local De-
troit area group, known as
the Dialogue, was joined by
members of the Ukrainian
American community about
five years ago. This group
has sponsored a yearly obser-
vance of the September, 1939
German invasion of Poland
which is essentially a memo-
rial service for the victims of
the Holocaust and others
whose deaths resulted from
subsequent Nazi imposed re-
pression. Each of these pro-
grams has been recorded in
its, entirety by Radio Free
Europe and broadcast im-
mediately to its entire net-
work. The 1986 observance,
held in September, was pre-
ceeded by a tour of the
Holocaust Memorial Center,
and the program was con-
ducted in the Jewish Com-
munity Center.
Space does not permit a de-
lineation of the number of
agenda items discussed at all
of the task force meetings
held since 1979. In the main,
topics included the impact of
the movie Shoah and the
Demjanjuk trial in Israel and
means of preventing in-
creases in defamatory attacks
on Polish and Ukrainian
Americans; Holocaust study
curricula and the importance
of promoting their use in
both public and parochial
schools; as well as reports
from members of the national
Holocaust Memorial Council.
These meetings have also in-
cluded cultural events such
as concerts in which Polish
folk singers and Jewish
klezmer bands have per-
formed, and also a program
which featured Nobel
Laureate Czeslaw Milosz
reading his poetry, In the
main, a large number of
those from each of the com-
munities have worked to-
gether,- recognized the many
similarities in their cultural
backgrounds that exist, and
have come to understand
each other's sensitivities.
The question might legiti-
mately be asked, "Why all
this effort?" And it is, best
answered by stating that the
American Jewish Committee
has long recognized the cen-
trality of ethnic, cultural, and
religious pluralism to the
continued strength of Ameri-
can society. Pluralism is nur-
tured by understanding, and
by the acceptance of, dif-
ferences. This understanding
and acceptance is reached
through the process of effect-
ing coalitions. The security of
the American Jewish com-
munity not only lies in the
perpetuation of our democrat-
ive society, and, to an extent,
in the political and economic
influence which Jews can
engender, but also in the firm
alliances we can create. It is
to this goal that the task force
is dedicated.

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