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October 27, 1989 - Image 49

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-10-27

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Art By Nip Rogers

Jewish kids, poor and hungry
Jews, and Jews with disa-
I didn't say we are doing
I just said "Slower-Than-
For all the battered
women's shelters in North
America, I can still count in
30 seconds how many are for
Jews and run by Jews: Los
Angeles, New York, Montreal,
rIbronto, Baltimore, Chicago,
and maybe one or two more.
And two or three of those
began in the last 18 months.
Anyone involved in the "out-
side world's" battered
women's projects will tell us
there are many (More than we
admit to ourselves) Jews
among them. And Jews have
special needs in this area.
For all the AA chapters
around and all the statistics
on cocaine, crack, Valium, and
other abused drugs, the
number of JACS (Jewish
Alcoholics, Chemically
Dependent Persons) and
similar endeavors lags far
behind the need.
For all our demographic
studies on Jewish poor peo-
ple, we're still not reaching
nearly as many as we need to
The runaway kids—Father
Bruce Ritter's New York
Covenant House now has
some rabbis working with
them. There must be a need.
Some of the kids who wind up
selling their bodies and deal-
ing drugs on Times Square
are Jewish, enough to need
some rabbis. And in other

large metropolitan areas?
Access: Still a struggle,
despite great strides. Not
enough interpreters for the
deaf, not enough TDD
machines so the deaf can call
in by typewriter over the
phone wires to connect with
the Jewish community. There
are not enough ramps to the
bimah, to the synagogue
itself, bathrooms, lecture
halls, group homes for retard-
ed adults, involvement of the
special needs community in
Super Sunday, Yom Ha
Shoah, Yom Ha'atzmaut.
There is not even a national
directory of Jewish com-
munal buildings that are
wheelchair-accessible or have
special sound systems for the
hearing impaired, though the
United Synagogue of
America has already pub-
lished its first preliminary
listing with 25 or so
3. No Significant Progress
with the Big Numbers: I've
been warned and fail to heed
the warning—what about the
thousands and thousands of
others who remain unin-
volved, totally assimilated?
Israelis have a point about
that: you can be very secular
and still very Jewish in Israel.
In America you can be very
secular and nowhere Jewishly
in the Diaspora. You don't
give to Jewish causes, you
don't affiliate with Jewish
organizations, you don't have
to care in any way about the
destiny of the Jewish People.
You read about the masses
in the Monday society page of

the New York Times, the
mixed marriages.
You hear about them when
you ask Federations how
many are givers out of how
many in the Giving Pool.
You know about them when
you announce the adult
education courses in a
1,750-member synagogue and
79 people sign up.
I have no panacea. I have
seen a little progress in the
area of The Big Numbers
since I hit the road 25 years
ago—but not much.

Perhaps what is needed is a
meeting of the leaders, lay
and professional, and the
wealthy movers-and-shakers
to review and evaluate the
Jewish agenda.
If the good news is so good
in certain areas, let's beef
these programs up on a
massive scale. If the bad news
is so bad in certain areas, let
us set our minds and
resources to stemming the
flow with new and different
lb quote the Book of Job,
"Though your beginnings be
small, the end result will be

Danny Siegel is an author,
lecturer and expert on identify-
ing and supporting grassroots
Mitzvah Work in the US. and
Israel. This article was made
possible by a grant from the
fund for Journalism On Jewish
Life, a project of The CRB
Foundation of Montreal,
Canada. Any views expressed
are solely those of the author.



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