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March 23, 1990 - Image 6

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-03-23

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

EDITORIAL

Sharing The Load

T

he Allied Jewish Campaign
completed a record-setting drive
last night. Again this year,
Detroit area Jews have given a record
total — $25.5 million — to help those in
need in this community, nationally,
overseas and our brethren in Israel.
Astounding as these figures are —
an average of $291 from each man,
woman and child in Detroit who claims
any tie to the Jewish community - they
also give pause because the numbers
tell another story. A recent trend has
shown that the Campaign and its
dedicated volunteers are achieving
record results from fewer and fewer
donors. (See story, Page 15)
In 1983, 18,440 individuals con-
tributed to the Campaign. In 1988,
17,593 contributed and this year
17,000 Detroiters will share in the
task. In earlier years we assumed these
contributors were being drawn from a
community of 70,000. But the recent
population study found 96,000 Jews in
the tri-county area, meaning that
fewer than one in four Jewish adults
will participate through their pocket-
books in the work of the Jewish com-
munity.

Detroit Jewry's achievement this
year is welcome, but it is not enough.
Many local agencies will be held to sta-
tus-quo budgets or be forced to cut back
because of increased needs in Israel.
And the Jewish Welfare Federation is
starting a supplementary campaign,
seeking an additional $5.5 million per
year for the next three years, to help
resettle the rising tide of Soviet Jews
who are fleeing to Israel.
Obviously, $25 million is not
enough to meet all the needs. Even
$30.5 million — adding the two cam-
paigns together — will leave local
agencies short and have national and
overseas agencies crying for more.
The time has come for the Jewish
community to break away from old pat-
terns and truly build community by
reaching out. New contributors, and
old, will demand more input into the
decision-making process, and they may
not be among the major giving
categories.
But reversing the shrinking
numbers of contributors will build a
new base for the community and
change a trend that has ominous
repercussions for the future.

Purge Oberammergau

T

his is a world of terrible ironies.
The avalanche of democracy
that is sweeping away the
detritus of communism has not swept
away the hate for Jews that has been a
staple for generations of certain Euro-
peans and Russians. Indeed, the new
mood seems to have only enhanced
bigotry on which repressive govern-
ments tried to keep the lid, or which
they tried to channel into directions
they determined best for their own
ends.
But anti-Semitism is not limited to
countries emerging from the legacy of
Marx, Lenin and Stalin. West Ger-
many is often saluted for its commit-
ment to democracy and for the distance
it has traveled since the nightmare of
Nazism. But a small village with a
population of 4,700 in the southern
part of West Germany has been the site
of an anti-Semitic play for the last
three centuries. Every ten years, the
Bavarian town of Oberammergau hosts
a passion play about the crucifixion of
Jesus. The play, which will be perform-
ed from May through September,
asserts that Jews are burdened with an
eternal curse — "a blood curse" — be-
cause they were allegedly instrumen-

6

FRIDAY, MARCH 23, 1990

tal in the betrayal of Jesus. On stage,
actors portraying Jews recite these
lines from the Christian scriptures:
"His blood be on us and our children."
Twenty-five years after the
Catholic Church's Vatican II con-
ference rejected the idea that Jews
were guilty of deicide, that charge is
still made before 500,000 Christians
who will attend the Oberammergau
play's 100 performances this year. Just
a few months after Jewish-Catholic re-
lations were pushed to the brink by the
furor over the convent at Auschwitz, a
world-famous play in an otherwise ob-
scure village perpetuates the tensions
and fictions that have been the founda-
tion of anti-Jewishness in the Chris-
tian world for nearly two millennia.
Until the play at Oberammergau is
purged of its viciousness, until the
nations — and the peoples — of the
world censure the anti-Semitism which
has long afflicted them, then the seeds
of democracy swirling around the globe
will be for naught. Democracy and
freedom cannot be selective: for one
person, or one people, to suffer because
of their beliefs is to taint and discredit
an entire movement that goes under
the appellation of "democratic."

LETTERS

Negative Stories
Do Not Belong

Why does The Jewish News
feel that it is necessary to
publish negative articles
about the metropolitan
Detroit Jewish community?
Last year, it was an article
about a young mother who
brought her son to Oak Park
to see her "roots." Then it was
the article "Please Don't
Forget Me!" (March 9). This
article infringed on the digni-
ty and privacy of most of those
mentioned and pictured.
If Elizabeth Applebaum
wanted to spend 42 hours at
the Jewish Home for Aged,
why didn't she note the gift
shop and coffee shop run by
the women's auxiliary as a
fund-raising project, and a
convenience to the staff,
employees and visitors? Why
didn't she mention that the
therapy department at Bor-
man Hall is one of the best in
the metropolitan area? Why
didn't she mention the people
who come to entertain at the
Home?

Lenora E. Noler
Southfield

Clarifying
`Observant'

When The Jewish News
referred to the Federation's
new president, Mark
Schlussel, as "observant Or-
thodox," this seems to have
generated some confusion
among the readership. Must
one be Orthodox to be "obser-
vant"? Hone is "observant" is
he necessarily Orthodox? The
answer to this question lies in
the clarification of that term.
The Jewish News used the
term as it is used in Orthodox
circles. In the Orthodox
Jewish community, "obser-
vant" means three things: (1)
one who keeps the Sabbath,

(2) one who obeys the dietary
laws, both in his home and
elsewhere, and (3) one whose
wife routinely uses the
mikvah. Any Jew who fits
this category is universally
recognized as "observant"
because it follows that if he
keeps these three command-
ments, there is a strong
likelihood that he keeps all
the rest. Such a Jew would
probably consider himself an
Orthodox Jew, a designation
others would probably bestow
upon him as well.
Belief in God and the occa-
sional visit to the temple
gives one the status of
"observer" rather than obser-
vant. If one keeps a kosher
home but eats "out," he cer-
tainly deserves a high
measure of respect as an
observer, but he is among the
non-observant.
It's not to say that Judaism
is an "all or nothing"
religion. Every piece of
Jewish living counts, every
moment of the Sabbath spent
in pure Sabbath holiness is
worth its weight in gold.
However, in the words of Rab-
bi Joseph Soloveitchik, the
spiritual dean of Yeshiva
University, only one who
practices an "unconditional
commitment" to Torah and
mitzvot is an "observant"
Jew.
Your applying this term to
Mark Schlussel was certain-
ly appropriate.

Rabbi Jack Goldman
West Bloomfield

`Strong-Arm' Tactics
Will Not Work
I am strongly opposed to the

guilt-producing, "strong-arm"
and manipulation tactics
Phyllis Karas advocated in "A
Mother Worries" (March 2), to
ensure that Jewish sons and

Continued on Page 10

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