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July 01, 1988 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-07-01

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

I UP FRONT

KIMBERLY LIFTON

Staff Writer

A

case pending in the Califor-
nia Supreme Court is prompt-
ing more rabbis here and
across the country to reevaluate the
need for malpractice insurance
policies.
A 1979 lawsuit which alleged that
a church was negligent in counseling
a man who committed suicide return-
ed to the national spotlight last
month when the California Supreme
Court heard arguments for the case.
It had been appealed after a judge
halted the trial in 1985, ruling that
a judicial attempt to set pastoral stan-
dards would violate the first
amendment.
Parents of the victim claim the
church should have referred their son
to a professional counselor.
"You have to protect yourself,"
said Congregation Beth Shalom Rab-
bi David Nelson, who does not have
malpractice insurance. "A rabbi is a
free ear. But what you get for free
often is not enough."
Rabbi Nelson said he has recent-
ly thought about purchasing in-
surance. He suspects it is necessary.
"Many people aren't taking this
issue seriously enough," he said.
"Eventually, there will be enough
frivolous lawsuits that rabbis will
have to protect themselves."
The California case — the first of
its kind to reach a state's high court
— has left some rabbis and congrega-
tion officials fearful that unhappy
worshippers might sue.
"Religion is a messy issue within

the American legal system — it's an
undefined area," said Rabbi Elliot
Pachter of Adat Shalom Synagogue,
whose congregation purchases
malpractice insurance for rabbis. "It
is an unfortunate thing that rabbis
need insurance, but we have to take
a realistic approach. We were advis-
ed to be be careful in rabbinical
school. We were told to get malprac-
tice insurance?'
Officials from the Reform, Conser-
vative and Orthodox movements um-
brella organizations said no clergy
malpractice claims are pending
against rabbis. Still, executives from
each group said their respective
boards have discussed providing
group malpractice insurance policies
to member rabbis.
"It used to be that you never sued
your place of worship," said insurance
agent Sy Warshawsky, who has writ-
ten policies for rabbis from four
metropolitan Detroit congregations.
"Those days are goner
Congregation officials would not
disclose information about individual
malpractice policies for covered rab-
bis in metropolitan Detroit, but said
policies average $500,000 a year.
About 20 national insurance car-
riers underwrite policies which give
financial protection to ministers and
other members of the clergy who do
marriage counseling, career advising
and psychological guidance.
Warshawsky said malpractice in-
surance for rabbis is relatively inex-
pensive. He said an average malprac-
tice rider can be attached to a
synagogue's insurance plan for $50 a

Continued to Page 28

C. Nu tkiew icz/Media

Rabbis Reevaluate Need
For Malpractice Insurance

Crews put out one of 60 suspicious fires in Israel that authorities believe have been set by
Palestinains.

Jewish Foster Care
Network Is Established

ALAN HITSKY

Associate Editor

S

ocial service officials and area
rabbis have formed a commit-
tee to guarantee Jewish foster
children in Michigan placement in
Jewish foster homes.
The group has been meeting mon-
thly as the Jewish Children's Foster
Home Project and has a commitment
from the state Department of Social
Services (DSS) to treat Jewish
children in the same way as native
American indians. Under that model,
officials will try to place Jewish
children through Jewish institutions
first.

Officials of the state and Oakland
County departments of social services
and Orchards Children's Services
have been working with Detroit area
rabbis since last year when two
Jewish children from Oak Park were
placed with a Christian family in
Flint.
Eight to 10 Jewish children are
believed to have been taken from
their families last year and placed in
foster care. According to Gerald Levin,
executive vice president of the Or-
chards, one-third of the 24 youngsters
in the Orchards' residential care pro-
grams are Jewish, and he forsees a
wider need for Jewish foster care.

Continued on Page 22

ROUND UP

Soviet Jews
Visit Israel

Tel Aviv (JTA) — The
number of Soviet Jews
visiting Israel is growing
rapidly.
The Soviet policy of allow-
ing Jewish citizens to visit
relatives in Israel has
brought more than 1,700
Jewish tourists from the
Soviet Union to Israel in the
first five months of 1988.
That compares to 183
Soviet Jewish tourists in all
of 1987.
Although - they come
primarily to see their
families, the visitors are
taken on organized tours of
the country.
Iburists from Moscow and
Leningrad report that the

visa offices in large Russian
cities are flooded with re-
quests for permits to visit
Israel.
They say the visas are given
freely, with no difficulties.
But there is a long wait, up to
four or five months, because
the clerks are hard pressed to
deal with the large number of
requests.

Attacks Alarm
French Jews

Paris (JTA) — Alarmed by
two incidents that occured
within a 24 hour period, the
Conference of French Rabbis
urged the authorities to take
all necessary measures to
halt the wave of attacks on
Jewish institutions in France.
They also urged Jewish

community leaders to be
more vigilant in protecting
Jewish property.
Last week in the first inci-
dent, a synagogue in the
Marseille suburb of Allauch
was burglarized. Ibrah scrolls
and prayer books were burned
and about $80,000 worth of
ornaments were stolen.
In the second incident, two
shrapnel grenades were
thrown at the Jewish com-
munity center at Epinay-Sur-
Seine, north of Paris. No one
was hurt and there was no
damage.
Another incident happened
earlier this month but was
just recently reported. The
grave of Alfred Dreyfus was
desecrated, according to his
grandson, Charles Dreyfus,
who said the tombstone in the
old cemetery in Montpar-

nasse was covered with swas-
tikas and anti-Semitic
graffiti.
Alfred Dreyfus was a cap-
tain in the French army in
the 1890s. He was falsely
accused and convicted of
treason in what was the worst
anti-Semitic scandal in
French history. He was even-
tually exonerated and freed
after years in' a penal colony.

Chabad Starts
Drug Program

Bais Chabad of Farmington
Hills on July 12 will begin
operating a drug information
and counseling center.
Rabbi Chaim Bergstein
recently participated in a
drug training seminar in Los

Angeles for 37 Lubavitch rab-
bis from across the country.
The Farmington Hills pro-
gram is part of Lubavitch's
Project PRIDE (Prevention
Resources: Information and
Drug Education).
The program will be open to
the public 7-9 p.m. on
Tuesdays and Thursdays, and
will provide drug prevention
literature, videotapes, profes-
sional counseling and local
referral. There will also be
community presentations and
workshops.
Directors of the local pro-
gram are Jerome Kaufman,
Dr. Julian Kutinsky and Et-
ta Landy. Speakers are
Edythe Franklin and Dr.
Michael- Fox, and founders
are Seymour Karbal, Dr. Ar-
thur Lieberman and Dr. Har-
ris Mainster.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

5

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