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September 15, 1989 - Image 6

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-09-15

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

EDITORIAL

Cardinal Talk

T

he cancellation of Polish Cardinal Josef Glemp's visit to the
United States and Monday's statement by Detroit's Cardinal
Edmund Szoka (see Page 7) have temporarily relieved the
pressure build-up on Catholic-Jewish relations.
Cardinal Szoka has prodcued a reasoned, concilliatory evalua-
tion and called for the removal of the Carmelite order's convent at
the Auschwitz death camp in Poland. His words have done much to
reassure those in the Detroit area who have worked for many years
toward reconciliation and understanding between the Jewish and
Polish communities.
His statement does not, however, mention his friend Cardinal
Glemp, or the Polish cardinal's anti-Semitic posturing in defense of
keeping the Catholic monastery on the grounds of Auschwitz.
Cardinal Szoka has pointed out the bonds that tie our com-
munities together. Cardinal Glemp has verbalized the issues that
keep us apart.
It is obvious that the Polish-Jewish dialogue sponsored by the
American Jewish Committee in Detroit and around the country must
coninue. It is also obvious that any dialogue will be meaningless
when a leading member of the Catholic Church spews ancient anti-
Semitic cannards and when the Church ignores an agreement it
made two years ago to remove a major source of friction.
The cardinal and the convent have added a new chapter to a
dismal, 2,000-year history of religious bigotry.

has been defeated until the morally bankrupt East German govern-
ment devises some heinous way to keep its people exactly where they
don't want to be, which is what they have been doing since the Wall
went up.
This westward immigration adds to the cumulative evidence of
the last few years that communism as way of life and a way of govern-
ment has been a failure. Some form of democracy is being attemp-
ted in Poland, Hungary and that mother lode for communist inter-
nationalists, the Soviet Union. Democracy brought Chinese students
to Tiananmen Square last spring and early summer, and it was fear
of democracy that caused the Beijing government to mow them down.
But democracy must prevail for peace to endure, whether it is
in the Soviet Union or the Middle East, where Israel remains the
only democratic state. The challenge for the West is to assure these
new immigrants that the bold step they took when they fled was
the correct one. And surely, then, others will follow. 111

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Breath Of Freedom

T

he flood of humanity continues. Since last Sunday evening,
tens of thousands of East Germans have fled to the West via
Hungary's newly opened borders. This has been an ecstatic
torrent of people. They have made the East German government
furious, and they have thrilled the citizenry of both Germanys.
Together, they have contributed to the defeat of the Berlin Wall, that
desecration to the human spirit where President John Kennedy
declared to a roaring crowd, "Ich bin ein Berliner." At least, the Wall

OPINION

Jewish Education Must Go Beyond School

JOSEPH A. POISSON

ewish educators are
trying to rekindle a
new spirit about
religious school. We want to
make it a unique place,
designed to give our children
a comprehensive education
with a firm Jewish
background. We are trying to
provide a challenging at-
mosphere of joy and wonder
in learning, as well as to in-
tegrate within this
framework the study of
Jewish tradition, history,
culture, Hebrew, etc., in order
to create a sense of Jewish
identity within all of our
students as concerned

j

Joseph Poisson is president of
the Jewish Educators Council
of Metropolitan Detroit and
education director at Temple
Israel.

6

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 1989

members of our community.
Generally speaking, we
have some difficulty explain-
ing the paradox that, despite
the great effort made by many
Jewish leaders, assimilation
and mixed marriages con-
tinue to grow.
One answer can be brought
to light through a conversa-
tion I had with one of our con-
gregants who told me the
following:
"My dear friend, when I
read your articles regarding
Jewish education, they make
me aware that we should con-
tinuously insist on more
Jewish learning. I am a pro-
duct of a Hebrew afternoon
school, yet I have to bring to
your attention that if it had
not been for my parents' in-
sistence and religious and
cultural discussions at home,
I would be part of the
assimilation process.
"Thanks to my parents,

whatever I learned at the
religious school was reinforc-
ed at home via Friday night
Shabbat candlelighting, holi-
day observances and a follow-
up of what I 'acquired' in the
school.
"When I attended college,
the Jewish youths were
always among the marchers
for civil rights, very active for
women's liberation causes
and leaders in the anti-war in
Viet Nam movement, etc.
These same youths neglected
to pursue Jewish causes.
"My feeling is that we
should teach our children
more about the promotion of
the future of Judaism and the
survival of the Jewish way of
life in addition to teaching
about the great human and
moral lessons of our prophets.
"It would be a great idea
that the laws that deal with
our everyday lives — those
that teach charity, that pro-

mote friendship with our
fellow man, love and
understanding — should be
part of our life cycles."
From research and surveys
made, as well as the facts of
life, we learn that there is no
relation between being an ex-
cellent student and being a
good Jew. Most of us know
that the pattern of forget-
fulness after attending short
days in the religious school is
large. Only if one can follow
up in his everyday life with
what is taught Hebraically,
Judaically, and spiritually in
the religious school, can one
be able to keep alive our
tradition and great heritage.
The basic question on
which our survival is based is:
Will our students live
Jewishly beyond the walls of
the religious school, especial-
ly when they grow up? Being
intelligent, well-educated and
knowledgeable does not

necessarily make you a com-
mitted Jew. What makes you
committed to the Jewish way
of life is living Jewishly and
identifying yourself actively
with the Jewish community.

The religious school has to
go beyond the old objectives,
goals and concepts. It is not
enough to teach our children
a language they will probably
never use in their daily lives,
besides during services. It is
not enough to concentrate
solely upon current events or
history lessons. It is not
enough to prepare them for
the bar mitzvahs, etc.

What is needed is to create
an environment, a spirit and
the promotion of a new "soul"
that will be able to function
as a responsive, concerned
and active Jew within the
family, temple or synagogue,
and community. ❑

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