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November 25, 1988 - Image 58

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

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

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58

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 1988

557-8776

Quiz Developed To Give Sense
Of Jewish Role Through History

HEIDI PRESS

News Editor

W

alter Field is wor-
ried that Jewish
children don't really
understand what role Jews
played throughout history. lb
help change the situation, he
created a Jewish history quiz.
Administered recently to
sixth graders in Detroit-area
Jewish religious schools, the
quiz deals with personalities,
places, ritual and practice.
The students also were given
a copy of Field's book, A Peo-
ple's Epic, in which he gives a
capsulized version of Jewish
history through a verse form
called tercet — three rhymed
lines.
Students who participated
in the quiz had the option of
writing a brief essay on a
Jewish topic of their choice.
Two winners from the 32 par-
ticipating classes from 13
schools will receive cash
prizes. Other contestants will
receive certificates of recogni-
tion. Awards will be
presented at a special pro-
gram at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7 at
Congregation Shaarey Zedek.
A long-time Zionist, Field
has been a student of Jewish
history all of his life. It was
his son Irwin who gave him
the inspiration for creating
the quiz.
When Irwin was a child,
Field said he could not get
him to read Jewish history
because his son complained
the explanations were long
and boring. Field tried to find
him a shorter version, but
could not, and so wrote his
own in the tercet style.
He sees the same
phenomenon happening to-
day. With the help of
daughter Harriet Siden, vice
president of the Jewish
Society of
Historical
Michigan; the Jewish
Educators Council and ad-
visers Rabbi Irwin Groner of
Congregation Shaarey Zedek,
The Jewish News' editor
emeritus Philip Slomovitz
and advertising executive
Leonard Simons, Field put
the wheels into motion and
donated the cash prizes
through the Walter and Lea
Fied Jewish History Fund of
the Jewish Historical Society
of Michigan.
But he had another reason
for creating the quiz. He
pointed to an introductory
note in his book in which he
quoted Maurice Samuel: "For
others a knowledge of. the

Walter Field's quiz teaches children the role of Jews in the "drama of
civilization."

history of their people is a
civic duty, while for the Jews,
it is a sacred duty."
Field surmised that this is
the first time such a quiz is
being offered to students in
Detroit's Jewish schools.
However, it is another project
in his mission to make Jewish
history interesting to Jewish
youth. The former Jewish
Welfare Federation president
and retired paint manufac-
turer began bringing Jewish
history programs to youth in
the 1940s when he worked
with the late Rabbi Morris
Adler in the Zionist Youth
Commission. In the 1950s he
began a lecture series on
Semitic and Near Eastern
studies at Wayne State
University. During the 1960s,
with the help of B'nai B'rith
Hillel Foundations on college
campuses, he personally fund-
ed dormitory lectures for the
students.
Field aims the quiz at a 10-
and 11-year-old audience
because he feels that by
bar/bat mitzvah the kids
should have the knowledge of
their people's past. "My hope

is that they learn the role
Jews played in the drama of
civilization," he said.
But he has another objec-
tive. Field said American
novelists show the "seamy"
side of Jewish life. He said it
was his duty to show the
students Jewish ac-
complishments. "I'm trying
to stress the other side. We
cannot do away with anti-
Semitism, but we can
strengthen our own position,"
he said.
He started thinking about
presenting the quiz 20 years
ago when he learned of the
Bible quiz which takes place
annually in Jerusalem. (The
Bible quiz is offered locally as
part of the Detroit Jewish
Community's annual Israel
Independence Day obser-
vance.) He hopes to offer the
Detroit Jewish history quiz
annually and to make it as
important as the Bible quiz.
The Los Angeles Jewish
Federation has already ex-
pressed an interest in Field's
quiz, and he plans to donate
copies of A People's Epic.
A philanthropist and

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