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December 29, 1989 - Image 6

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

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

EDITORIAL

Highway Potential

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SPEAK AND GET tI
'TREAT.,. YOU CAN DO

I

nterstate 696 has finally opened, to the relief of suburban commuters and
state and local officials. The 30-year battle over the freeway's route has end-
ed, at astronomical cost, and the metropolitan area can begin to enjoy what
had become a monumental headache.
1-696 in the planning and construction stages was a difficult burden. Now
that it is open and providing relief to commuters, attention can be turned to the
highway's potential for change.
Every freeway constructed in the Detroit area since the 1950s has led to
growth of the suburbs and flight from the urban core. This last link of 1-696,
which connects less-populated suburbs with the older, more densely populated
neighborhoods, has the potential to change this pattern.
As our Close-Up beginning on Page 24 recalls, the Jewish community joined
in the battles over the freeway route. After years of court fights, the suburbs
and the state settled on the 10 Mile - 11 Mile corridor and ran 1-696 directly
through the heart of Detroit's Orthodox Jewish community and $50 million
worth of Jewish communal institutions. Although the freeway route would not
be altered, changes in its design and construction were made to minimize its
effect on the community.
Now the completed freeway must be used as a tool for growth. The Jewish
community must use the new road to its advantage, making the highway a
means of access and not egress. The community must follow the example of the
City of Oak Park and use 1-696 as a means of revitalization.
After years of being divided by a freeway, the community must now use the
new highway to speed increased ties between distant areas.

The Nation's Shame

M

any of us had hoped that the nation had progressed beyond the violence
that marred the civil rights advances of the 1960s. Then, mostly in the
South, fists and clubs, guns and bombs provided a fatal counterpoint to
the progress that was taking place.
In the intervening two decades, the times have changed greatly — or have
they? Laws are on the books guaranteeing civil rights for Americans of all
colors and creeds — and yet, equality eludes many.
And now come four bombing incidents in the South and one in Maryland, all
of which appear to be racially motivated. These are an insult to the basic decen-
cy of the American people, and to the vast moral distances that the nation has
traversed. But they are also reminders that, as the attorney who headed
Alabama's successful investigation into the 1963 bombing that killed four girls
in a church in Birmingham, said, "The hate groups never go away."
The persistence and the longevity of these groups are a threat not just to
blacks, but to Jews and to every other minority. They are a cancerous plague
upon the very soul of the nation, eating from within at its heart and purpose.
The American dream cannot be fulfilled until the hatred of the bombers and
their sort is eradicated. Civil rights and anti-defamation groups must continue
their work, monitoring the hate groups and educating society.
Until the violence ends, we will not just be burdened with a past that
negates freedom, but, in many ways, we will still be living it. And that is a na-
tional tragedy and shame.

Religious Freedom?

D

ecember Dilemma has been an annual problem for the Jewish communi-
ty and other religious minorities since the 1985 U.S. Supreme Court
decision allowing the annual nativity display in Pawtucket, R.I. by mix-
ing in non-religious symbols.
The dilemma, in fact, has cast a heavy shadow over the celebration —or non-
celebration — of Christmas and Chanukah, especially in our public schools.
The mixing of the holidays by the courts and by the public has damaged the
religious nature of Christmas, the non-Christian nature of Chanukah and the
cause of tolerance in this season of "good will toward men."

6

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 29, 1.989

gSPEAK „, 01C41,SFEA K!

.

OPINION

Oberammergau
Remains A Problem

LEON KLENICKI

D

espite promised
changes in script and
production, the
presentation of the famed
Oberammergau passion play
scheduled for next summer
remains a problem for Jews.
The Anti-Defamation League
has joined the American
Jewish Committee in alerting
travel agents and tour groups
that the 1990 production —
which will run from May to
September — still contains
anti-Jewish material that has
been criticized by Roman
Catholic authorities as well
as Jewish groups.
Based on past history — the
event has been a highlight of
life in this West German
Bavarian village every 10
years for three and a half cen-
turies — more than 500,000
people are expected to travel
to Oberammergau to see the
play. More than 60 percent of
the audience will be from the
United States and Canada.
Interestingly, Germans con-
stitute a relatively small
percentage of the viewers.
ADL has been monitoring
the passion play for decades
and extensive discussions
have been held in Oberam-
mergau over the years with
the producers and directors
and Catholic hierarchy there

Rabbi Leon Klenicki, director
of the Interfaith Affairs
Department of the Anti-
Defamation League's
Intergroup Relations Division
is also an ADL liaison to the
Vatican. This article is
reprinted from the November
1989 issue of the "ADL
Bulletin."

and elsewhere, all aimed at
removing the harsh anti-
Jewish content that has
marked the presentation.
Despite continued
assurances that changes
would be made, the produc-
tion is fundamentally flawed
and still serves as a powerful
source of anti-Jewish
stereotypes and caricatures.
Many Christian leaders have
joined Jews in criticizing the
anti-Semitic elements in the
text as well as the staging

The production is
fundamentally
flawed and is a
powerful source of
anti-Jewish
stereotypes.

and constumes used in recent
productions. One blatant ex-
ample is the portrayal of some
Jewish characters with horns.
Last May, Dr. Leonard
Swidler, professor of the
Catholic thought and inter-
religious dialogue at Temple
University, Philadelphia,
representing ADL, the Rev.
John Kelly of the Brooklyn-
Queens Catholic-Jewish
Dialogue Group, and Rabbi A.
James Rudin of the American
Jewish Committee visited
Oberammergau, where they
held three days of intensive
discussions with the play
directors, the mayor and the
village pastor. They also went
to Munich where they met
with Cardinal Friedrich Wet-
ter, the archbishop in whose
jurisdiction Oberammergau
lies, as well as Roman
Catholic theologians and
academicians.
The continuing concerns

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