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November 25, 1988 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-11-25

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Torah Message From Students, Authors


Editor Emeritus


he Chanukah account of Mac-
cabean valor enthuses us. But
this enthusiasm has never been
limited to military glories. There is also
the linkage with the spiritual and
Therefore Chanukah was always
utilized by communal leaders, and
cultural movements for encouraging
educational tasks. Chanukah was
always the period when personalities
like Louis Marshall and Rabbi Stephen
S. Wise made appeals for action to ad-
vance cultural movements.
A local effort to advance the educa-
tional interests of our youth is a
"Jewish History Quiz."
Leah and Walter Field are sponsor-
ing the quiz. Their daughter Harriet
Seiden is the organizer of the move-
ment. Several hundred students from
16 schools will be vying for prizes pro-
vided by the Field family.
The major questions will be based
on the text of A People's Epic: Highlights
of Jewish History in Verse, by Walter
Field. The planned city-wide assembly
for the project is set for Dec. 7 at Con-
gregation Shaarey Zedek. It is hoped
the "Jewish History Quiz" will become
a nationally conducted educational

There is added cause for jubilation
in educational and publishing spheres.
Simultaneous with the introduction of
the "Jewish History Quiz," is the ap-
pearance of an immensely enriching
work, This Is The Torah. Its author is
Rabbi Alfred A. Kolatch, the immense-
ly popular and successful organizer and
head of the Jonathan David Publishing
Rabbi Kolatch, who was ordained at
the Conservative Jewish Theological
Seminary, held pulpits in Columbia,
S.C., and Kew Gardens, N.Y., before
founding the publishing house of
Jonathan David in 1948. During these
40 years he authored many books and
gained fame with his Jewish Book of
Why and subsequent related volumes.
He is the acknowledged authority
on nomenclature with his books These
Are the Names and The Name
The current Torah volume is a
revealing work. It provides answers to
many questions that have puzzled
students and worshippers.
Kolatch's introduction to the
volume is in itself a most important
definition of the great text.
"In Jewish tradition the
word Torah, which literally
means 'teaching, is often used to
describe the entire gamut of
Jewish religious learning. When

Walter L. Field

so used, Torah refers not only to
the Five Books of Moses but
also to the Prophets, Holy
Writings, Talmud and Midrash
— in fact, to all religious writings
from earliest times to the

- "Basically, howeve4 the term
Torah applies to the Five Books
of Moses, the first five books of
the Bible. The word Pentateuch,
a Latin word derived from the
Greek, meaning 'five books; is
commonly used to refer to these
five books. Pentateuch cor-
responds to the Hebrew word
Chumash, meaning 'five.'
"In addition to the five
books that are collectively call-
ed the Torah, there are two
other parts to the Bible: the Pro-
phets (Neviim), which consists of
twenty-one books, and the Holy
Writings or hagiographa
(Ketuvim), which consists of
thirteen books. This biblical
triad is often referred to as the
Tanach, a Hebrew acronym
fashioned from the first letter of
the Hebrew words Torah,
Neviim and Ketuvim."
For those participating in the
"Jewish History Quiz," the Kolatch
volume is a real treasure.
The best way of attesting to the im-
mensity of knowledge provided by this
Torah volume is by sharing some of the
answers provided to questions that
often puzzle the devoted student.
Exemplary in the text are a few that
Continued on Page 48

Ambiguity, Confusion in Algerian Mirage

Escapees from realism now have ad-
ditional mirages to lean on in the
"pledges" for peace made by the
Palestine Liberation Organization in
The "concessions" that were pro-
nounced at that Arab gathering are
weighted down by many ambiguities.
There is so much confusion in the
repeated double talk of Yassir Arafat,
that greater caution is needed than
before the intifada.
The civilized way of seeking an ac-
cord is to declare it a crime to hurl rocks
and to teach children to sink into a
state of violence. Civility demands call-
ing each other by name, of addressing
Israel as Israel without hiding under a
Palestinian synonym.
The vilest enemy must surely

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Vol. XCIV No. 13


November 25, 1988


recognize that Israel will not give
Jerusalem up.
The urgency now is for Jews to be
committed to Israel's security.
In "Intifada in the Diaspora," Paul
Flacks, executive vice president and na-
tional secretary of the Zionist Organiza-
tion of America, deals with the
significance of Jewish reaction to events
in the territories.
He maintains that "criticism of
Israel by Jews becomes criticism of Jews
everywhere." He asserts:
What will be the status and
image of the Jews everywhere if
Israel continues to be criticized
by outsiders, and Jews join or
encourage this criticism?
Jewish youngsters hear and
listen to the voices of "mature"
Jews criticizing Israel in ugly
terms. What faith will they have
in Israel and what incentives
will they have to be involved on
behalf of Israel, or to decide to
make aliyah? Dare we imagine
what this may mean in the
future? The critical question is
yet to be answered.
It is appropriate to pause
and question if this critique is
an overreaction to recent events.
Does this give undue credence
to the impact made by Israel's
critics? While their voices are
shrill, their numbers are small.
Therefore, are they really that

The value of Flacks' analyses is in
his admonition that Jewish condemna-
tions of Israel lead to anti-Israelism.
Flacks lists names of prominent Jews
whose endorsements of condemnations
of Israel have already proven destruc-
tive and he declares:

What alternatives should
have been considered by those
critical of Israeli policy?
Without denying their right to
have views regarding the future
of Israel, I would have hoped
that Albert Vorspan, Irving
Howe, Woody Allen, Rabbi Ar-
thur Hertzberg, Henry Siegman,
Rabbi Wolfe Kelman, Seymour
Lipset, Menachem Rosensaft,
Rita Hauser and others would
have taken this constructive

"We disagree with Israeli
policy and we will work to in-
fluence changes because we are
concerned with the future of the
Jewish state. But Israel has not
lost its soul. Isolated Israeli ac-
tion by soldiers under duress
does not represent Israeli policy.
All of Israel's leaders want
peace. The people of Israel
deserve to have peace. We will
not permit our political views of
Israel to stand in the way of our
support for and confidence in
the Jewish state. While we may
have critical views, we will ex-

press them through all the chan-
nels available to us without in-
volving the outside world. But
let us all go to Israel now, not to
voice demands, not to issue
ultimatums, not to appease the
Palestinians who refuse to ac-
cept Israel. Rather, let us go by
the thousands to prove that we
stand solidly with the people
and the state of Israel:'

Will this approach be listened to?
Here is an additional proposal in the
Flacks statement that needs acceptance
and emphasis:

The Jewish people in Israel
and the Diaspora have a choice.
Discussion, disagreement and
debate should not be sacrificed
for the sake of Jewish unity, but
Jewish unity need not be
sacrificed in order to speak
recklessly. Even though our
traditions encourage debate, a
public hanging is un-Jewish —
and suicide is contrary to the
teachings of our faith. We can
decide together that there is a
middle road called "respon-
The critics of Israel, who
describe themselves as "con-
cerned Jews;' represent no in-
tifada in the Diaspora. But they
have added greatly to Israel's
burden. Those who accuse
Continued on Page 48

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