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December 29, 1989 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-12-29

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1990 Decades Into And Unto The Centuries


Editor Emeritus

A thousand years in
Thy sight are but as
yesterday when it is
past, and as a watch in
the night. —Psalm 90

ommencement of the
last decade of the
20th century is really
mere routine for the over-
whelming majority of this
generation. They are certain
to reach the 21st. For the few
of us who began life in the
19th century it is both
longevity and the crudity of
For whoever said it could
have wisdom to say, "We call
our mistakes, our sins, our ex-
perience!' As such, perhaps
we are also curious about
Admittedly, we of this cen-
tury who began life in the
previous one were witnesses
to such that challenged us to
judge ourselves and our world
as "bearable!' We are not only
the human ingredients of two
world wars. We are leaving as
legacies hundreds of unen-
ding little wars.
Our earlier generations had


the glory of curing many
serious illnesses. We are
witnessing new diseases for
which we must find relief.
There were hatreds among
peoples which had temporary
moderation. There are new
ones more violent.
Yet, life goes on and on, the
evils are repetitive, anticipa-
tion for the blessings are
never abandoned. The
Psalmist had an assurance for
it when he admonished that
"a thousand years are . . . but
as yesterday!"
The Jew who proclaims it
also affirms it. We always are
confronted by the evil. We
never fail to anticipate and
proclaim the blessed and
Make a hurried accounting
of the first nine decades of
this century in the Jewish ex-
perience that is our special
concern. They began with
pogroms. The horrors of
Kishinev are unforgettable.
The most impressive
demonstration of American-
Jewish friendship came as a
reply to the Czarist enmities.
President Theodore Roosevelt
and Secretary of State John
Hay were not silent in their
condemnation of Czarist

guilt. The Voice of America on
Kishinev was a volume of
several hundred pages, issued
among the first books of the
Jewish Publication Society of
America, with the record of
American protests in 1904.
Such is the partnership in
American-Jewish humanists
and must be judged as a basis

We are not only
the human
ingredients of two
world wars. We are
leaving as legacies
hundreds of
unending little

for continuity now in the
record of U.S.-Israel
But the roots of anti-
Semitism nevertheless
sprouted and found people to
nuture them. We had them in
our own communities, in
Detroit, Royal Oak, Dear-
born. They were not an
American unanimity but
they existed.
When the Blood Libel was

treated as means for attack
on the Jewish people, in the
lie perpetrated in Russia
against Mendel Beilis in
1912, our nation condemned
it. Yet it is still a part of the
Arab propaganda in the Arab
litany threatening Israel and
many voices are still silent on
the subject.
The fakes called "protocols"
had their perpetrators in high
quarters amidst us. They are
still among the tools of our
The Holocaust, the German
inhumanities, the massive
pogroms have left a blot on
the century that will never be
erased. They gathered into
the global calamity in which
the leading nations of the
world had a share because of
their silence and their
failures to act in rescuing the
victims. Our own government
has a measure of guilt to its
Yet there are in the records
of that history of barbarities
many names of men and
women who risked their own
lives to help in the rescuing
process. In that accounting
we will always pay honor to
the Righteous Gentiles, to the
hasidei umot haolam, the

saintly among the nations of
the world.
The relief from the agonies
of terror is in the most
historic of developments, the
Redemption, the rebirth of
the State of Israel. The fulfill-
ment of the hopes and aspira-
tions that date from the Ex-
ile, to the testing of which no
generations submitted, was
both realization of Prophecy
and commitments to the
"Will to Live," and to end the
scourge of hornlessness to
which most in the world had
mistreated the people of
Israel. Therefore the ever
recurring need to retain the
loyalties, to assure support
and non-interference with the
Redemption of Israel. But
there have always been the
panicked under stress whose
negations harmed Israel.
They are in our midst and the
predominant "Will to Live"
admonished them to con-
tribute toward destruction.
The lessons of the ages will
surely lead toward a
positivism in loyalties to
Israel's status in the years
While we are gathering the
threads in accumulating ex-

Continued on Page 52

From John Slawson: Judgments Under Stress

ohn Slawson for more
than half a century had
the distinction of being
among our most acknowledg-
ed social scientists. He was
treated as a guide wherever
he was called upon to render
communal services, as he did
in Detroit and Cleveland
Federations, in the National
Board of Guardians, in the
American Jewish Committee
whose staffs and leadership
honored him for his research
and analytical writings.
His death on Dec. 12 at age
93 served to recall anew his
professional role here as the
second executive director of
the Jewish Welfare Federa-


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Vol. XCVI No. 18 December 29, 1989



tion. Morris Waldman was
the first, upon inauguration
of the Detroit Federation, as
the executive officer from
1924 to 1928. Slawson was ex-
ecutive director from 1928 to
1932. He was followed for the
next five years by Kurt Peiser.
There is good reason for
mentioning the first three.
Their approaches to the
philosophies of their labors
surely differed. Their philan-
thropic goals and
achievements practically
equated. In the challenges
that related to the horrors
that had begun to arrive as a
German terror and a more
distant Redemption that was
and continues to be Zionism,
they were not militant and
would have been judged as
They were not alone in such
judgments; they actually
echoed sentiments that were
almost predominant. Their
reactions to approaching con-
ditions need not be ruled out
of consideration in the treat-
ment of historical ex-
periences. This approach to
the era of Waldman-Slawson-
Peiser-et al should not be
treated as being in poor taste.
Many questions have been
raised in most recent times

whether our genration of
Jews, like so many among the
accused in mankind, failed to
recognize the Nazi danger
and failed to act properly in
assuring and demanding
rescue for the sufferers.
Let us therefore be our own
Slawson most naturally
directed the Allied Jewish
Campaigns of his years in of-
fice. The amounts raised may
puzzle the present generation
if compared with results of
the multi-millions in the
responses to the needs in our
time. Here is the record of the
Slawson years:



Yet there was satisfaction
with the accomplishments
and many measures of pride
in them. We were as generous
as most communities and in
many respects more so.
Why the measly results as

we may term them now? Is it
because there were no concen-
tration camps and no Israel
for which we could appeal?
There were miseries galore.
There were mounting anti-
Semitic occurrences in Poland
and Romania and threats to
Jewry everywhere.
But Allied Jewish Cam-
paigners were active and
pleased with their results.
John Slawson was a great
campaigner. It was not like
the present 12-month-a-year
campaign. It was for one an-
nounced period, March and
April ending with Passover.
We met for lunch daily except
Saturdays and Sundays at the
Statler. We sang songs and
cheered the reports.
One of the concluding ses-
sions of the Allied Jewish
Campaign functions was
celebrated at the Statler
Hotel luncheon by a capacity
attendance with — excuse the
description — funereal
Phylis Allen was at the
piano. We all sang "Happy
Days Are Here Again!' A
volunteer team carried aloft a
coffin, which was described as
the burial of the Depression.
That's how we treated the
triumph of the amount raised

for that period in the finan-
cial era in which we were the
Don't consider this to be a
rebuke. I was among the
celebrants. Let us consider
what I am now saying "a con-
Was it wrong for us to be
jubilant? It was not John
Slawson's fault. It was the
guilt of the time. We were of
the communities of that era.
The years we now list were
the end of the twenties, the
start of the thirties — and
then it erupted: Hitler attain-
ed power!
Did we have to wait for the
burning of books in 1933 and
the Krystalnacht of 1938? We
were not alone who waited.
The German Jews, with a
handful of exceptions, also
There were a few who know
and warned. Albert Einstein
was one of them. Thomas
Mann and his family knew
and were among the non-Jews
who warned and suffered for
There were a few among us
in American Jewry who
learned and warned. James
Rosenberg, who was promi-

Continued on Page 52

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