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February 02, 1990 - Image 41

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-02-02

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

COMMUNITY

Maggid's Stories Stress Torah
And Kindness Toward Others

ELIZABETH APPLEBAUM

Features Editor

C

haim Shia was a good
student and a kind-
hearted boy. Growing
up in Russia in the early
1900s, he was promised a
surprise if he completed his
studies.
After weeks of work, Chaim
received his new boots. He
went outside to show them off
and met up with young
Shaika, who lived in a run-
down house with his poor
mother. Chaim took off his
boots and gave them to
Shaika.
Shaika became a successful
businessman in South
America, while Chaim set-
tled in Israel, where he had
difficulty earning enough to
feed his family.
Visiting the Kotel one
Tisha B'Av, Shaika heard a
familiar voice. He looked

around and saw Chaim
Shia.
Running to his friend,
Shaika cried, "It's me! The
boy to whom you gave your
boots!"
Chaim is no longer poor.
The kindness he once showed
another has been returned to
him. Each month, he receives
a check from South America
to care for his family.
This true story is one of
Imany told by Rabbi Sholom
Schwadron, known as the
maggid of Jerusalem for his
ability to relate parables
with a lesson.
' Maggidim, storytellers,
once roamed Eastern
Europe, finding aspects of
the Jewish community that
needed attention — perhaps
Shabbat was not being prop-
erly being observed, or
maybe local citizens had not
set enough time aside for
Torah study — and then ad-
dressing them in parables.

NCJW Forms Group
For Young Women

STAFF REPORT

I

n an effort to boost
community involvement
of younger women, a
group of seven women is
launching a new committee
for women ages 25 to 40 for
the National Council of Jew-
ish Women.
Called Hakol, the Hebrew
word for voice, the women
hope to raise social con-
sciousness through edu-
cation, social action and
community service. Issues of
concern are abortion rights,
child care, domestic abuse
and Soviet Jewry.
"We want to make things
happen. We want to be the
voice of today's Jewish wo-
men," said Lori Lipten, one
of the group's founders. "We
want to move to the forefront
of these issues. We will be
very action-oriented."
Barbara Grant, local
NCJW president, said re-
sponse to the new arm of
NCJW has been overwhelm-
ing. Already, the women
have a mailing list of over
200.
"One shortcoming of the
council has been our failure
to involve this group in our
programs," Grant said.
"Women in my generation

stayed home, raised their
babies and volunteered. The
new generation doesn't have.
that luxury. This is a way to
persuade them that who we
are and what we do is impor-
tant and they can make
room for it in their lives."
The first organizational
meeting, to feature former
abortion counselor Rabbi
'Richard Marker, is schedul-
ed for 11 a.m. on Feb. 18 at
the Franklin River
Clubhouse in Southfield. He
will speak on pro-choice —
getting involved.
Marker, the Illinois direc-
tor of Hillel College Age
Youth Services, was the first
Jewish chaplain of the Ivy
League at Brown Univer-
sity. During the late 1960s
and early 1970s, Marker was
active in the Clergy Con-
sultation Service and the
Rhode Island Coalition for
Abortion Rights.
Marker is vice president of
the American Jewish Com-
mittee and the Lake Shore
Drive Synagogue in
Chicago. He also serves on
the executive committee of
the 1990 National Jewish
Christian Workshop.
Petite brunch will be serv-
ed. There is no charge, but
reservations are re-
quested.



Today, few maggidim re-
main. One is Rabbi Schwan
dron; another is Rabbi
Paysach Krohn, author of
The Maggid Speaks: Favorite
Stories and Parables of
Rabbi Sholom Schwadron.
Rabbi Krohn was in Detroit
last week, the guest of
Yeshivat Darchei Torah.
Rabbi Krohn, mohel at the
North Shore University and
Long Island Jewish
hospitals in New York, met
Rabbi Schwadron when the
maggid came to stay with
his parents during a visit to
the United States.
Born in Jerusalem, Rabbi
Schwadron, who is in his
late 70s, is a man who "loves
humanity," Rabbi Krohn
says.
Years after they met,
Rabbi Schwadron and Rabbi
Krohn discussed the idea of
collecting some of the
maggid's stories for an
American audience. Rabbi
Schwadron then recorded
more than 300 tales in
Yiddish; Rabbi Krohn
selected 100 of these and
wrote them in English for A
Maggid Speaks.
Rabbi Krohn says he chose
stories "that showed
tremendous concern, com-
passion, faith in God and in
humanity in an extraor-
dinary way." They stress
performing mitzvot with
love, learning Torah and in-
, spiring readers to act with
, kindness toward others.
The popularity of The
Maggid Speaks prompted
!Rabbi Krohn's decision to
write a second book, Around
the Maggid's Table, publish-
' ed last December. The book
contains more of Rabbi
Schwadron's parables, along
with stories Rabbi Krohn
collected from around the
world. One of these he heard
during a Shabbat visit to
Detroit.
In 1915, a woman named
Bessie Cohen sought a strong
Torah education for her sons.
She found the perfect teacher
in her nephew from New
York, Herschel Cohen. She
urged him to come see the
city.
Herschel arrived at the
Detroit train station late one
afternoon. His cousins rush-
ed him to a nearby shut
where he could daven Min-
chah. Wolf and Isadore were
eager to show their cousin
that Detroit was filled with
Yiddishkeit.
"You see," they told

Herschel as they entered the
shul. "Detroit is a little
Vilna," a center of Jewish
culture and learning.
Herschel looked around,
then turned to Wolf and
Isadore. "This is very far
from being a little Vilna," he
said. "I don't see any young
people here. I don't see any
children!"
A fifth-generation mohel,
Rabbi Krohn says he often
tests his stories on guests at
his Shabbat dinner table.
"If people don't believe it
or if it doesn't teach them
something, then I won't use
it," he says. "But when I
hear the response, 'That's
incredible!' I know I have a
good story."
Rabbi Krohn says one of
the challenges of his works
is matching the title to its
parable. He pointed to the

"For two years I
lied every time my
mother asked if I
had eaten that day.
In reality, all I ate
were some leftover
scraps."

story "A Blessing With No
Strings Attached" in
Around the Maggid's Table,
in which a young man turns
to the village Torah scholar
for a blessing to excuse him
from service in the Soviet
Army.
Hearing the boy neither
observes Shabbat nor wears
tzitzit, the scholar says: "I
hope the Soviet authorities
are as disappointed in you as
I am."
Days later the boy reap-
pears. Rejected by the army,
he is now wearing tzitzit and
observing Shabbat.
Rabbi Krohn, who began
his writing career with the
publication of Bris Milah,
which chronicles the laws
and customs from birth to
circumcision. He has re-
peated his parables and
stories to audiences across
the United States. One of
those stories is "Confessions
at Sea," a true story includ-
ed in The Maggid Speaks:
In 1909, Yisrael Shklover,
a student of the Vilna Gaon,
and 150 of his followers left
Europe for Eretz Yisrael.
After a month at sea, the
frail ship was pounded and
rocked in a terrible storm.
The captain warned

Rabbi Paysach Krohn

Shklover: "Our end is near."
Shklover knew he must
prepare his followers for
their deaths. As they
gathered and heard the news,
he urged them to confess
their sins. "Since we will all
be going together to the Olam
HaElyon (the world above),
if we openly confess our sins,
the embarrassment we feel as
a result of their being made
public will in itself be an
atonement for us."
A young man rose to tell his
confession and began to
weep. "For two years I
violated the mitzvah of
honoring my father and
mother," he said. "I lied and
deceived my mother day after
day." And then he told his
story:
His father decided to devote
his life to study. His mother
worked cleaning houses, but
could only afford to feed her
children once a day. The
little food she brought home
was divided among 11 chil-
dren.
The young man, realizing
there would be more for his
brothers and sisters if he
didn't eat, told his mother he
was receiving meals at school
and would no longer need
food from her.
"For two years I lied every
time she asked me if I had
gotten my meal and eaten
that day. In reality all I ate
were some of the scraps that .
the other boys had left over,"
the man told his fellow pas-
sengers. "I now beg Hashem
for forgiveness for having
lied to my mother all those
times."
His hands outstretched,
Shklover looked to the dark
sky and cried to God, "Look
at what this young man calls
,his eternal sin! These are the
`sins' of your children! In his
merit, have mercy on us!"
Just as he finished, the
rains stopped and the storm
passed. Days later, the group
arrived safely on the shores
of Eretz Yisrael.



THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

41

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