Neo-Nazi elements seem to be expanding
within the teenage skinhead phenomenon.
On his last day in office, President
Ronald Reagan assesses his eight years.
The Rabbi's Role
> 'Jewish children pose in Izieu, France, shortly before they were murdered by the Nazis: Could I find the strength
to talk about it?
Ashes To Ashes: Or How
I Spent My Summer Vacation
have a mission. It's a mission that I
took on voluntarily, with full
awareness of what a heavy burden it
would be. Now that I have it, though, I find
it difficult to bear.
My mission is to tell people about my
summer — about the things I saw.and felt
when I toured through Poland. While most
people my age were at summer camp, I was
standing in concentration camps, trying to
get a feel for what life was like during the
Holocaust, and failing.
I toured with a group of 60 other
teenagers. None of us knew each other at
the outset of the trip, but that changed
quickly. Few things bring a group together
like the sight of 40-year-old human bones
and ashes strewn about the grounds of
Birkenau. What we quickly learned was
that all of us chose the same mission — to
go to Poland, be witnesses, and come back
to tell others. All of us believed that we
could do it.
For this reason we spent three days
after Poland participating in follow-up
seminars at an educational center, where
we participated expressing ourselves
through drama, film, dance and other
media. Afterward, I felt confident in my
abilities to communicate. I could put on
slide shows, lead discussion groups, give
speeches and act.
But one thing that I never mastered
was what media people call the "sound
bite" — a short one- or two-minute mini-
Michael Weiss, a senior at West Bloomfield
High School, won the annual Manuscript
Day Competition for Michigan high school
students with his essay, 'Ashes to Ashes."
He received a $7,600 scholarship to attend
Wayne State University.
speech that covers the essentials but not
lb illustrate: With the beginning of the
school year I ran into a number of friends
whom I had not seen all summer. One of
them told me he had spent the summer
working, and told me about it for a few
minutes. He then asked me, almost in pass-
ing, "How was Poland?"
I knew that he wasn't expecting a
speech or a slide show. He didn't want a
three-hour discussion. He wanted a sound
bite — a short answer, to a short question.
All I could do was describe it as "very emo-
tional" — a woefully inadequate phrase.
Here's another example. My synagogue
asked me to give a speech to the congrega-
tion on Yom Kippur. Make sure, my rabbi
said, that you thank the congregation for
the scholarship that subsidized the trip —
and try to keep it under five minutes;
otherwise, he told me, people will get bored.
In five minutes I was supposed to pour
my heart out to the congregation, teach
them, enlighten them, move them, begin
my mission. By the time I had finished giv-
ing the background and thanking them for
the scholarship, I would have used up a
minute and a half. What could I possibly
say to them in three-and-a-half minutes?
Should I tell them that the Maidanek
concentration camp is only a 10-minute
drive from downtown Lublin? Should I.
describe the eerie juxtaposition of seeing
smoke from Lublin factories rising up in
the distance behind the crematorium?
Should I tell them about the enormous
building filled with thousands and
thousands of shoes, more shoes than I've
ever seen in my life, more of anything that
I've ever seen in my life?
Or the other building right next door,
with an equally vast number of shoes?
Continued on Page 10
Each synagogue has its own vision
of the rabbi's role in school.
Partners In Stripes
A local officiating tandem
is one of area's top teams.
Crisis In Aging
The insurance industry is looking
at long-term plans for the elderly.
A recent mission for 21 Detroiters
left a wonderful impression.
VICTORIA BELYEU DIAZ
in an all-female
February 17, 1989
Sabbath ends Feb. 18 6:53 p.m.
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS