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December 25, 1987 - Image 16

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-12-25

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

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Who Is A Jew?

Continued from Page 5

open' to Jews who would
otherwise be lost to the faith.
"Unfortunately," she said,
"I have worked with many
young couples (wishing to in-
termarry) who are in agony,
who ultimately are not
secular Jews, who really
belong in the theistic Jewish
community, who have come to
us because they have been
refused by every other stream
in Jewish life here in Detroit.
We have reached out and
helped them to celebrate
their marriage and to
acknowledge their Jewish
identity at this important
time, and kept them open to
that identity."
"While speaking to one
young man who I realized
would really have preferred a
traditional Jewish wedding,"
Jerris said, "I asked him if he
had spoken to anyone else in
the community, and his
response was, 'After what I've
heard from the rabbis in this.
community, I wouldn't let
them bury me, let alone
marry me,' That was really
distressing to me, because he
would have been lost to us?'
Jerris explained that a
Humanistic Jew considers a
Jew to be anyone who con-
siders him or herself a Jew.
The panelists agreed that
the acceptance of religious
plurality, both in the United
States and in Israel, is vital
to creating a more inclusive
Jewish community. The
Humanist movement is in-
volved with Chemdot, a coali-
tion of Conservative, Reform
and Humanistic Jews in
Israel who are working to fur-
ther the acceptance of
religious pluralism there.
Anti-semitism, the
panelists agreed, may force
Jews who do not practice
their faith the same way to
share the same fate.
"Mengele, when he was mak-
ing his selections, didn't ask
if you were Orthodox or
Reform," Gitelman said.
Each movement has made a
place in its service for a
prayer for the State of Israel,
although Gitelman qualified
the Orthodox position by say-
ing that some see the state as,
at best, a haven for the op-
pressed. He added that Or-
thodoxy is by no means a
homogeneous sect, and
criticized the reluctance of
Orthodox rabbis to recognize
the Dec. 6 Soviet Jewry rally
in Washington because of con-
cerns such as women singing
in public. "This is a perfect
example of a failure to
recognize that which is
crucial, that which is vital
and that which is secondary,"
he said.
Several of the speakers
mentioned the need to

educate Jewish children
Judaically as a common con-
cern, and there was a consen-
sus that the Jewish communi-
ty is reducing its concern
about civil, social and human
rights issues, with the excep-
tion of Soviet 'Jewry. A com-
mon history, sense of moral
ethics and memory of the
Holocaust were other things
cited as bonding the
movements together.
Jerris hopes her children
will one day share with the
children of all other Jews "a
concern and respect for the
dignity of all Jews, a committ-
ment to the State of Israel, a
feeling of pride toward their
heritage, and a respect for the
rights of Jews to express their
identities in a way which is
meaningful and significant to
them."
Gitelman stressed that the
Jewish population as a whole
must not become so inwardly
critical that it forgets to con-
cern itself with the plight of
others, both Jew and non-Jew,
who are oppressed and
deserve to be liberated.
Discussion moderator Lauren
Liss said after the meeting
that she received only
positive feedback from the
nearly 200 audience
members. "I would like to see
this be the beginning of more
discussion between the com-
munities and a start toward
working together on our com-
mon goals," she commented,
adding that this was the first
time locally a member of the
secular movement had sat in
discussion with the other
Jewish movements in an
event of this kind.
Audience member Annette
Chajes commented that each
of the four panelists were
moderates within their move-
ment. She credited their
open-mindedness with mak-
ing the discussion possible.

Education Needs

Continued from Page 5

tion at all levels. We are anx-
ious to pursue cooperative ef-
forts with temples and
synagogues."
He stressed that Federation
was not interested in opening
other schools under its
auspices.
The committee will attempt
to find an educational model
best suited to meet Detroit
Jewry's needs through "am-
ple use of consultants and
consultation with various
rabbinical groups," a c cording
to Dr. Giles.
He said he hoped the study
committee would present its
plan within the next 12 to 18
months.
Was he frustrated by the

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