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January 05, 1990 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-01-05

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

UP FRONT

JVS Turns Soviet Child Care
Into Fun Lessons In Judaism

SUSAN GRANT

Staff Writer

ewish Vocational Ser-
vice has turned a child
care program into a
chance for Soviet children to
learn about Judaism.
Usually when Soviet refu-
gees attend evening English
classes at JVS and cannot
find anyone to babysit their
children, they bring their
children along. While the
adults spend more than
three hours, four nights a
week, learning English at
JVS through the Southfield
Public Schools Adult Com-
munity Education program,
someone from Southfield
schools watches over their
children.
A few months ago, JVS
Executive Director Albert
Ascher realized the 17
children in the child care
program between the ages of
five to 12 could be doing
more than just playing
games. Instead, they could
be learning about Jewish
lifestyles, holidays and
customs.
"It was my own crazy idea
to do this," Ascher said, but
admitted he had no inkling
of how to put it together or
even if it could be done.
But he took his idea to

sli

Teacher Kathy Lowenthal helps Alex Shulman say the blessings over the
Chanukah candles.

Ofra Fisher, executive direc-
tor of the Agency for Jewish
Education, and to Jewish
Experiences For Families,
which agreed to fund the
program.
Ascher credits Fisher with
getting the program off the
ground.
"I had the idea, but it was
her doing."
JVS kicked the program
off with a Chanukah
celebration Dec. 19. Using
one of the older children who
spoke Russian and English
as a translator, the
Chanukah traditions were
passed on.
But even without a com-
mon language, the children
and parents showed JVS co-
ordinators Sarah Weintraub
and Barry Horowitz the fun
they had lighting the
Chanukah candles, making
dreidels and singing songs.
Most of the parents didn't
know much English, but
when a song was sung in
Yiddish, a language they
knew well, they joined in.
JVS Director of Career
Development and Job
Placement Services Shirley
Schlang described the
children at the party: "Their
eyes just lit up. These kids
are never going to forget this
experience."
The party is the first of
many events and programs

for these Soviet "nightowls"
in an attempt to teach them
about Judaism.
Soviet children realize
they are Jewish, but they
have never experienced
Judaism, Schlang said.
Although no date has been
set for the second program,
Ascher hopes it will take
place in mid-January after a
few details are worked out
with Southfield schools.
Southfield operates both
the English classes and the
child care sessions, Ascher
explained. But this program,
because it celebrates
Judaism, must be separated
from the school district.
Ascher and Schlang do not
want to violate the separa-
tion of church and state pro-
visions of the U.S. Constitu-
tion.
Future acculturation pro-
grams will rarely be as elab-
orate as the Chanukah par-
ty, Schlang said. The
children will learn about the
synagogue, the Torah, keep-
ing kosher and other Jewish
traditions.
In the shtetl, before a boy
was to learn his first Hebrew
letter, honey was placed on
the letter to make learning a
sweeter experience, Ascher
said. He hopes these pro-
grams will be sweetened
with fun to encourage the
children to learn. ❑

agreement of cooperation
which calls for an exchange
of academic staff and
students.
The agreement, which was
signed in Seoul, also en-
courages joint research pro-
jects and conferences bet-
ween the two schools.

, Barry Rosen "woke up one
morning and I thought, 'I'd
like to paint the Western
Wall on one of the lobby
walls.' I wanted Jews who
have been to the Wall to be
reminded of it, and those
who couldn't travel to get a
sense of what it is like."
The synagogue then com-
missioned sculptor Will
Mead, who specializes in
large clay and porcelain
pieces, to create a facsimile
of the Wall. Mead studied
volumes of photos of the
Kotel, then spent three mon-
ths sculpting the Wall. Each
"stone" was sculpted to re-
produce a stone from the
Wall. Artificial moss was
placed in the crevices.
The sculpture, the Torah
from the Holocaust placed
within, was mounted on the
northern wall of the
synagogue lobby and
dedicated at Selichot ser-
vices last September.

ROUND UP

Wiesel Joins
Forum In Moscow

New York — Author Elie
Wiesel will be one of the par-
ticipants in the Jan. 15-19
Global Forum on Envi-
ronment and Development
in Moscow, which will ex-
amine new approaches to the
global environmental crisis.
More than 700 scientists,
journalists, artists, students,
religious and political
leaders, including Soviet
leader Mikhail Gorbachev
and United Nations Secre-
tary-General Javier Perez de
Cuellar, will participate in
the forum.

Making History
In Mississippi

Utica, Miss. — Hello,
happy Jewish campers, and
welcome to Mississippi —
that's right, Mississippi,
home of the Henry S. Jacobs
Camp and the new Museum

Dedicating the new Museum of the
Southern Jewish Experience.
Rabbi Alexander Schindler
(second from left) and Macy B.
Hart (right).

of the Southern Jewish Ex-
perience.
The museum, which
houses artifacts from
Southern congregations that
could no longer be maintain-
ed, is located on the grounds
of the Reform camp where
hundreds of Jewish children
from places like Monroe, La.,
and Hattiesburg, Miss.,
spend their summers.

Macy B. Hart is director of
Jacobs Camp and the mov-
ing force behind the muse-
um, which was recently
dedicated in Utica, Miss.
Among the items in the
museum are an ark from a
synagogue in Vicksburg,
Miss., pulpit chairs from a
congregation in Port Gibson,
Miss., and chandeliers from
the Jackson, Miss., temple.
"This is a profoundly mov-
ing moment, surrounded by
the remnants of this great
culture," Congregations
President Rabbi Alexander
Schindler said as he stood
beside the ark from
Vicksburg at the dedication
of the new museum. "You
can hear the waves of time."

Israeli, Korean
Schools Sign Pact

Jerusalem — Represen-
tatives of the Hebrew Uni-
versity of Jerusalem and
Yonsei University in South
Korea recently signed an

Visit The Kotel
In Philadelphia?

Philadelphia — Famous as
the home of one of the
United States' most historic
landmarks, the Liberty Bell,
Philadelphia recently gain-
ed a new treasure — the
Kotel.
All right, it's not the real
Kotel, but it is an authentic
replica.
It all began last year when
Beth T'fillah of Overbrook
Park, a Conservative con-
gregation in Philadelphia,
purchased and displayed a
Torah saved during the
Holocaust.
Then Beth T'fillah Rabbi

Elizabeth Applebaum

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

5

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