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April 28, 1989 - Image 40

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-04-28

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PURELY COMMENTARY

Frankfurt On Hudson

Continued from Page 2

that some of the others do not,
or apply only in modified form.
The accomplishments of research in
this very important volume is the reten-
tion of the identity of the settlers; reten-
tion of the strong measures of former
German attachments, the integration
that gave power the newly developed
community, the social and religious
high-leveled aspects.
The author, coming from that
sphere, accomplishes his task in the
realism emenating from his research.
The summary in which he indicates the
basic aims attained in the growth of the
German Jewish element that attained
genuine achievements as a community.
These are some of his views to be
treated with appreciation for the
knowledge he provides in the summa-
tion of the status of a community
reaching great heights.
Unlike the eastern European
immigrants, the German Jews
who came in the nineteenth cen-
tury were of the same back-
ground as the immigrants who
came to Washington Heights in
the twentieth century. Many
were, in fact, distant relatives of
Washington Heights residents.
Yet their pattern of adjustment
was very different.
In the nineteenth century,
German Jews rose rapidly on
the social scale and ac-
culturated equally rapidly, ex-
changing Orthodoxy and im-
migrant ways for Reform and
bourgeois Americanism within
a generation. In Washington
Heights the rate of change away
from tradition was much slower.
The immigrants to the Lower
East Side had come with a very
different Jewish subculture
from that of the German Jews,
though the nineteenth-century
German-Jewish immigrants had
started out from a similar back-
ground but met very different
American conditions. Both
came to an America very dif-
ferent from that of the 1930s.
The German-Jewish
refugees of the 1930s differed
from the two earlier groups of
immigrants in that they had a
double set of identity ad-
justments to make. They were
not only a Jewish minority
group in a Christian majority
culture, they were also a
German-Jewish subminority
within an eastern European
Jewish submajority.

They not only shared the
usual struggles about how to ad-
just their Jewishness to
America, but were also faced
with the issue of whether and to
what extent to retain their
German-Jewish subethnicity.
The interrelationship between
adjustment to America at large
and adjustment to American
Jewry in particular is one of the
main themes of this book.
A community of great merit must
have its distingished citizens. In this
one, described by Lowenstein in

40

FRIDAY, APRIL 28, 1989

There is also the footnote the former
U.S. Secretary of State will surely
dislike.
Quoted from Ralph Blumenfeld and
the staff and editors of the New York

Henry Kissinger:
Washington Heights alumnus.

Frankfurt on the Hudson, there were
the Kissingers. A one-time Detroiter
used to tell us about them. The late
Rabbi Herbert Parzen, before returning
to Detroit with his wife, the late Sylvia
Parzen, for their final years, had occa-
sion to relate aboufworshipping in the
Washington Heights synagogue in
which they shared membership for
several years. He would tell us how
devoted the parents of Dr. Henry Kiss-
inger were, that they were most devout.
In the presently reviewed book, author
Lowenstein includes this reference to
the Kissingers:
While those German Jews
who came to Washington
Heights as adults did not fulfill
the stereotype of the 1930s
refugees as elite intellectuals,
some of their children did.
Probably most famous of
those who grew up in the com-
munity was Henry Kissinger,
college professor, foreign policy
adviser, and secretary of state
under President Nixon. Kiss-
inger grew up in an Orthodox
family and participated in some
communal activities during his
adolescence and young
adulthood.
Later in his life he broke
both with traditional Judaism
and with much of his connec-
tion with the culture of the
neighborhood, though he re-
mained in close contact with
his parents, who continued to
live in a Washington Heights
apartment.
Quite a few other well-
known individuals grew up in
traditional Jewish families and
congregations, though most
later broke with the immigrant
lifestyle. One can mention "Dr.
Ruth" Westheimer, sex therapist
and television personality;
Henry Kaufman, influential
stock analyst and economist;
Louis Kampf, former head of the
Modern Language Association;
and Max Frankel and Fred
Hechinger, leading members of
the editorial staff of the New
York Times.

Post, Henry Kissinger: The Private and
Public Story, (New American Library),
is the following:
A respondent who had at-
tended the Hebrew school of the
congregation said that he had to
go to minyan every morning,
and on Sunday morning he had
to "learn" at the rabbi's house.
A congregant noted that most of
the members of Kehilath Yaakov
(Rabbi Breslauer's synagogue)
were from small towns and that
the rabbi was "much stricter
than people were used to." A
biography of Henry Kissinger
mentions that his first wife was
very upset because Rabbi
Breslauer, who performed their
wedding, required her to go to
the mikve.
In a recent issue of Parade
magazine there was a reference to
another member of the Kissinger fami-
ly. The question addressed to the editors

of the "Personality Parade" page and
their answer were:

Q. Henry Kissinger came to
America when he was 15 but
still speaks with a heavy Ger-
man accent. I understand that
his brother, Walter, does not
have an accent. My question:
Has Henry Kissinger been
unable to lose his accent, or has
he kept it on purpose?

A. For years it has been said
of Walter Kissinger, who is a
year younger than his 65-year-
old brother: "Walter is the Kiss-
inger who does the listening?'
Henry Kissinger's accent is
more a latent than a cultivated
one.
Frankfurt on the Hudson is a
welcome study of immigrant adjust-
ment to an adopted country. It may
serve well as a lesson for the new wave
of immigrant settlers arriving from
many lands as refugees. Perhaps it is
especially timely as guidelines for the
increasing arrivals from the Soviet
Union, whose ranks have been remote
from Jews and Judaism. ❑

(

NATIONAL NEWS

Dick Thornburgh Defends
U.S. Policy On Soviet Jews

Washington (JTA) — Attorney
General Dick Thornburgh last week
defended the U.S. decision to refuse to
admit some Soviet Jews to the United
States as refugees.
Prior to last fall, Soviet Jews
wishing to immigrate to the United
States automatically were granted
refugee status. But since Sept. 14,
1,470 Soviet Jews have been denied
entry as refugees, on the grounds that
they could not prove to have a "well-
founded fear of persecution."
"No longer were we dealing ex-
clusively with the identified
dissidents, the classic refuseniks,
those persons who had a clear, well-
founded fear of persecution, who had
in fact been persecuted," Thornburgh
told disgruntled United Jewish Ap-
peal leaders here.
"We were faced with a larger
number of persons who sought to
come to the United States for family
and economic reasons, and under the
case-by-case examination re-
quirements of the law, these deter-
minations, in an increasing number
of cases, were adverse."
Sylvia Hassenfeld, president of
the American Jewish Joint Distribu-
tion Committee, told Thornburgh
that "there is a long history of inci-
pient anti-Semitism in the Soviet
Union."
Thornburgh responded that under
U.S. law, refugee status cannot be
granted to entire classes of people in

a given country. Such status has to be
granted on a case-by-case basis.
He said, however, that Soviet Jews
"have a special status" as potential
refugees and immigrants because
they have faced "subtle kinds of covert
persecution that have been char-
acteristic of the long history of anti-
Semitism in the Soviet Union."
Martin Stein, chairman of the
UJA board of trustees, complained to
Thornburgh that the flow of Soviet
Jewish refugees to the United States
is too slow.
Thornburgh responded that the
INS recently increased the number of
its adjudicators in Rome. INS Com-
missioner Alan Nelson told the House
Judiciary subcommittee on immigra-
tion, refugees and international law
creased from five to seven, effective
April 10.

Rep. Bruce Morrison (D-Conn.),
chairman of that subcommittee,
spoke to the UJA leaders later in the
day. He told them that the first
denials of refugee status to Soviet
Jews can be traced to an Aug. 4, 1988,
memorandum written by Thorn-
burgh's predecessor, Edwin Meese.
The memorandum, to Gen. Colin
Powell, then the national security ad-
viser, said, "Current practices in pro-
cessing Soviet emigres appear not to
conform with the requirements
established by the Immigration and
Nationality Act of 1980."

)

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