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May 05, 1989 - Image 36

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-05-05

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

I MEDIA MONITOR 1

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ou want.

Prisons Mistreat
Jews, Monthly Says

ARTHUR J. MAGIDA

Special to The Jewish News

ews in American pris-
ons do not have the
right to keep kosher,
wear a yarmulke outside of a
synagogue, or abstain from
work on Shabbat, according
to an article in the B'nai
B'rith International's Jewish

j

Our complete collection of custom-covered contemporary,
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• Your choice from over

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Monthly.
Written by Jane Lovitch of
the - B'nai B'rith staff in
Washington, the article,
"Jews Behind Bars," asserts
that federal prisons general-
ly place fewer constraints on
inmates who wish to practice
their Judaism than do state
prisons. Federal facilities
have "minimal standards" for
religious rights within
prisons, but state prisons do
not have to comply with these
regulations. Federal prisons,
for instance, must offer a
meat-free diet to members of
such religions as Islam,
Judaism and Hinduism, but
state facilities "have no
obligation to serve inmates a
pork-free diet, much less a
kosher one," according to
Lovitch.
Lovitch also claims that
religious facilities are better
in federal prisons than state
penitentiaries. "Every federal
prison has a place for Jewish
worship and study," she
writes, "while most state in-
stitutions do not."
Despite this gap between
federal and state institutions'
policies toward Jewish
prisoners, the two recently
formed prison congregations
that are the only ones formal-
ly recognized in North
America are in state prisons:
Temple Bet Herut in
Michigan City's Indiana
State Prison and the Jewish
Community at Graterford
Synagogue in the Penn-
sylvania State Correctional
Institution in Graterford, Pa.
Both are members of the
Union of American Hebrew
Congregations. The success of
the two congregations is at-
tributed to cooperative prison
administrators and involve-
ment by local Jewish com-
munities.

Magazine Probes
Sad Death
Of N.Y. Shuls

"After a heavy rain," says
Rabbi Elias Heftler, pointing
to the broken windows in
Congregation Beth
Haknesseth Mogen Avraham,
"I come in to see if everything
is all right. And I thank God

that the building is still stan-
ding. I don't know if we will
be able to withstand another
winter."
The rabbi's congregation is
on Attorney Street, just north
of famous Delaney Street on
New York's Lower East Side.
Once home to several hun-
dred thousand Jews and 350
synagogues, the
neighborhood now has about
25,000 Jews. Only eight great
structures built as
synagogues remain.
The condition of these eight
shuls is documented in an ar-
ticle in Metropolis, which
dubs itself "the architecture
and design magazine of New
York." Written by Time
magazine reporter David
Levy, the article concludes
that "the future holds little
hope" for many of these
synagogues. "The congrega
tions are almost gone; the
ethnic and religious makeup
of the area is altered. Some of
the synagogues will live on.
Those that are lucky will stay
open, turned into museums or
adapted for other uses. The
unlucky ones will stand emp-
ty and decaying until struck
down by the wrecker's ball or
razed by vandals playing with
fire."
Among the synagogues
visited by Levy:
Khal Adas Jeshurun, the
"grand prince of the Lower
East Side synagogues." Bet-
ter known as the Eldridge
Street Synagogue, this
"sumptuous Romanesque and
Gothic-style brick, terra-
cotta, and granite structure"
was built in 1887. The first
and "most elaborate"
synagogue erected by
Ashkenazi Jews on the Lower
East Side,
Congregation Chasam
Sopher, in the midst of the
Spanish Lower East Side. "A
simple red-brick, copper-
topped Romanesque Revival
building, constructed for a
Reformed German congre-
gation in 1853, it is now ad-
jacent to a community garden
and abandoned buildings and
murals of Caribbean earth
mothers."
Congregation
Anshe
Slonim, the oldest surviving
synagogue building in New
York. Built in 1850, it once
seated 1,200 worshippers and
was the largest synagogue in
the United States. Abandon-
ed in 1975, it was subsequent-
ly gutted by vandals. In 1986,
the building was bought by
Angel Orensanz, an artist
from Spain, who began to con-
vert it into a studio for his

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