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April 06, 1990 - Image 62

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-04-06

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


Announcing • • •

the opening of Jeff Friedman's



Southern Jewry's Place
In History Examined

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Charleston, S.C. (JTA) — A
hundred delegates from 10
Southern states assembled
in Charleston, S.C., in late
March to learn more about
Jewish life in the old and
new South. They were at-
tending the Southern Jewish
Historical Society's 14th
Conference on the Southern
Jewish Experience.
Originally scheduled for
November 1989, the con-
ference was rescheduled to
March 23-25 because of Hur-
ricane Hugo's devastation of
The conference was mark-
ed by differences of opinion
on what makes Southern
Jews tick and where they fit
in the grand picture of
American Jewry.
Dr. Mark Bauman, pro-
fessor of history at
Metropolitan College in
Atlanta, differed with much
that has been written about
Southern Jews as being as-
similated or "hyphenated
Jews in the South, said
Bauman, "were influenced
by the regional subculture in
a relatively marginal fash-
ion. Where they were most
influenced, the causal fac-
tors were ecological and
were not unique to the
In fact, he said, "to a
remarkable degree,"
Southern Jews' experiences
"were far more similar to
those of Jews in similar en-
vironments elsewhere in
America than they were to
white Protestants in the
Still, Bauman emphasized,
the Southern Jews' par-
ticular contribution to
American Jewry is notable.

"American Jewish history is
not New York City Jewish
history," he said.
At the closing session of
the conference, two Jewish
professors from Southern
state universities shared
their experiences teaching
religion in the Bible Belt.
Peter Cohen, professor of
religion and philosophy at
Appalachian State Univer-
sity in Boone, N.C., said that
his Jewish students usually
receive lower grades than
their non-Jewish classmates,
including in courses on

"They simply have not
read the Bible growing up,
and they assume they know
this material better than
others in the course because
it is 'their book.' "
Dr. Jeffrey Gold, professor
of philosophy and human-
ities at East Tennessee State
University, Johnson City,
Term., said, "I used to think
the greatest theological dif-
ference separating Judaism
from Christianity concerned
the role and status of Jesus
— whether he was the son of
God and the Messiah."

But after teaching
thousands of conservative
fundamentalist Christian
students, Gold said, "I have
concluded that there is
something deeper and more
essential" differentiating
Jews from Christians.
"The dispute settles
around the concept of
original sin. Most of my
Christian students believe
nature, life, and human be-
ings are irredeemably cor-
rupt and/or condemned.
They believe human life is
not sacred."

Herzog Speaks Out
Against Rabbi Schach

Tel Aviv (JTA) — Presi-
dent Chaim Herzog, during
a monthly radio program,
obliquely rebuked Rabbi
Eliezer Schach, who recently
declared the kibbutz move-
ment was outside the Jewish
fold because its members do
not observe religious prac-
Herzog coupled a forceful
defense of the kibbutzim and
their contribution to Israel's
defense with a renewed ap-
peal for electoral reform in
Israel. A new electoral
system is needed, he said, to
replace a failing setup where

small religious parties hold
the balance of power and ex-
ert disproportionate political
The president's remarks
incurred the wrath of the
strictly Orthodox, although
he mentioned no individuals
or parties by name.
But Shach's polemic
against all non-religious
Jews and kibbutzim in par-
ticular has drawn sharp
reactions from other promi-
nent Israelis across the polit-
ical spectrum.
Schach, the 92-year-old
head rabbi of Ponivezh

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