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January 27, 1989 - Image 14

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-01-27

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ducators and commun-
ity members in the

West Bloomfield-
Bloomfield Hills area are pro-
moting multicultural
awareness in an effort to
reduce prejudice among
"We noticed that kids were
forming themselves into
cliques and hanging out with
their own cultural groups,"
said Sandy Faber, a teacher at
the learning resource center
at West Hills Middle School.
Part of the Bloomfield Hills
school district, West Hills in-
cludes students from West
Bloomfield and Bloomfield
Hills. "Kids formed tight
cohesive groups and outsiders
were real apparent," she said.
Staff members heard com-
ments in the halls about how
students dress and look, and
saw student groups excluding
other students.
"We noticed some of this
along cultural and religious
lines," Faber said. "They are
not picking on any one
culture; they are putting
down kids who were not just
like them. They were saying,
`If you don't dress like me and
act like me, you can't be part
of my group.' "
A panel was formed by the
West Hills staff development
committee last May for an in-
service meeting for teachers.
The panel included communi-
ty members: Najwa Faraj, a
bilingual tutor at West
Bloomfield High, represen-
ting the Chaldean communi-
ty; Rabbi Harold Loss of Tem-
ple Israel, representing the
Jewish community; Michael
Horn, principal of Thompson
Middle School in Southfield,
representing the' black com-
munity; and parent represen-
tatives from Japanese and In-
dian cultures.
"The panel was attempting
to understand why kids
behave a certain way," Rabbi
Loss said. "It is unique for a
school principal like Beverly
Stone to bring in all the dif-
ferent- cultures to create a
dialogue where people get to
know each other and accept
each other's cultural
background." The committee
met last summer and expand-
ed to include members of the
Ecumenical Institute and
Jewish Community Council.
While students are not yet
directly involved, West Hills
is planning a program this

spring for students and
parents. "We want them to be
educated about their
similarities and differences in
order to enhance the accep-
tance of other people," Faber
In addition, the three
Bloomfield Hills middle
schools will participate next
month in the World of Dif-
ference program of the Anti-
Defamation League of B'nai
B'rith. World of Difference
promotes understanding
through the study of pre-
judice, stereotyping and
discrimination, scapegoating,
racism and American beliefs
and values.
West Hills committee
member Gilda Poisson is su-
pervisor of the Temple Israel
middle and high school. She
said the temple plans to in-
tegrate a multicultural
awareness program into its
middle school with parental
"We want to dispel some of
the myths between different
racial groups," Poisson said.
"Education about people is
the best way to counteract
"You need exposure to a
culture to understand it,"
Najwa Faraj said. "By talking
about the culture and history
of different groups, we can
learn about their beliefs and

values — including their ex-
pectations of their children.
"As Chaldeans we have to
merge with the American
culture, but we also have to
keep our identity. The com-
mittee wants to give everyone
his due with respect and in-
Faraj has spoken to
students at Congregation
Shaarey Zedek. She recently
served on a cultural aware-
ness panel in the Walled Lake
school district and at West
Bloomfield High.
Like West Hills, the West
Bloomfield High panel con-
sisted of members of four
ethnic groups who spoke to
the staff about cultural dif-
ferences. Faraj said the school
is planning a similar seminar
for students and is consider-
ing a cultural awareness
Although Faraj said she
faced prejudice as an adoles-
cent, she feels more malice
exists among today's
students. "As part of a Middle
Eastern culture, I felt dif-
ferent. I lived in Highland
Park. My mother didn't speak
English and she cooked dif-
ferent foods. We were dif-
ferent, but it really wasn't
that bad.
"People today are harder
and more aggressive. They
want to hurt."

Groups Join To Show
Myerhoff Work At Center

Congregation Shir Tikvah
and the Jewish Community
Center will present the one-
person performance All That
Our Eyes Have Witnessed
with Arthur Strimling from
New York at the Maple/Drake
Jewish Community Center
on Feb. 8.
All That Our Eyes Have
Witnessed is based on the
work of the late an-
thropologist Dr. Barbara
Myerhoff. Dr. Myerhoff,
author of Number Our Days
and co-director of the
Academy Award-winning film
of the same name, spent five
years collecting and documen-
ting countless stories from
persons living in the Fairfax
Jewish neighborhood of Los
These stories are from the
elderly, Holocaust survivors,
social workers, refuseniks and
others who make up the
cultural fabric of that urban
area. When Dr. Myerhoff was
dying she asked Arthur

Arthur Strimling

Strimling to create a
storytelling play using these
recorded stories. All That Our
Eyes Have Witnessed is the
first major project of the Liv-
ing History Program at the
Myerhoff Center.

The performance is free of
charge. For information, call
the Center, 661-1000, ext.

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