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June 15, 1990 - Image 2

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-06-15

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PURELY COMMENTARY

PHILIP SLOMOVITZ

Editor Emeritus

Resisting Hatreds While Saving Lives

A

11 the accumulated
heartaches and suf-
ferings of the cen-
turies, the resistance to the
threats to our very existence
and the courageous efforts to
save and protect lives when
possible are now in a single
package.
In this generation of
glorified redemption, which
blesses us with the pride of an
existing State of Israel, the
right gained by our people to
be able to save the oppressed
is accompanied by new
threats. Now there also are
the multiplied respon-
sibilities not to panic nor to
fail to act honorably. There is
an Israel to serve in rescuing
Jews and there are many
Jews to be rescued.
No one can be misled into
believing that the threats of
pogroms in Russia are idle
rhetoric. There are not the
massive pogroms of czarist
times, but the humiliations
of individuals, the tortured in
invaded homes are sufficient
to condemn the inhumanities
and to indict government and
people of the Communist post
czarist regime that continue
the lust for pogroms.
There is no longer a hiding
of the continuing threats and
resulting sufferings from the
anti-Semitism which is prac-
ticed by every element in Rus-

sian life. There is no hope left
there for our fellow Jews, and,
unlike some decades ago,
there is no longer hesitation
in exposing the truth.
Deeply distressing are some
of the misconceptions spread
for a number of years by the
Reynolds ABC Programs. It is
cause for concern in its conti-
nuing emphasis on every-
thing that is evoking rancor
against Israel. When so able

There are now
multiple
responsibilities not
to panic and not to
fail to act
honorably.

a news analyst dared refer to
the Russian Jews who are
escaping from pogrom threats
as "Jewish foreigners," he
falls into the trap of the
lowest type of Arab propagan-
da. The only description of
such programming is that it
is an approach to anti-
Semitism.
The lasting Russian
pogrom was part of the
Romanoffs and continued in-
to Stalinism and the Com-
munist realm. In the earliest
years of the century there
were not many Jews who
escaped the terror. The 1903

Kishinev pogrom was so hor-
rifying that a full length book
with condemnations was
published by the Jewish
Publication Society. Every
voice of value was represented
in the protestations, in-
cluding the leading
clergymen, public officials
and newspapers in Michigan.
The Voice of America on
Kishinev had the status of an
official document condemn-
ing the Russian atrocities.
Has it been forgotten? Then
it needs a few reminders.
There is need for the records
so that the continuity of con-
demnation of the Russian ter-
rors not be interrupted. For-
tunately there are among us
some who retain the records.
One of them is especially
qualified. Walter L. Field,
poet, bibliophile, student of
history and the Bible, has re-
tained and presents me with
a "Purely Commentary" clip-
ping from The Jewish News
dated April 15, 1960. It con-
tains an apologetic from
Nikita Khruschev in which
he claimed USSR decency for
Jews.
In that column, in which
Khruschev was given a plat-
form for his contentions, I
quoted an expose by one of
the most responsible
American journalists, the
foreign correspondent Har-
rison Salisbury, who por-

trayed the Russian horror of
the Khruschev era as a conti-
nuing inhumanity of the
czars copied by the Com-
munists. The Salisbury
revelation in 1960 contained
the following:
"I have not the slightest
doubt that if the Soviet
government were to permit
free emigration tomorrow
that 75 to 80 percent of the
Jews would leave the coun-
try. That would not have
been true two decades ago.
But the anti-Semitic
policies of Stalin and his
successors have taught the
Jews of Russia that their
government regards them
as enemies of the state, and
their fellow citizens regard
them as inferiors.
"None of the existing pro-
scriptions against the Jews
has been lifted. They are
still not admitted to the
Foreign Service school.
They are not accepted in
the higher military
schools. They find consis-
tant difficulty in getting ad-
mitted to universities, es-
pecially Moscow Universi-
ty . . . Khruschev's party
may not discourage Jewish
careers but it does not en-
courage them. No Jew has
risen to high party rank
under Khruschev. The one
Jew in the Presidium,
Lazar M. Kaganovich, has

vanished. Most Jews,
however, regard him as
anti-Semitic; and he
described himself as a Rus-
sian, not a Jew. No Jew has
risen to a post of conse-
quence in the propaganda
aparatus. There are many
Jewish writers on both dai-
ly and monthly publica-
tions, but none is the editor
of a prominent newspaper.
The number of Jews of
cabinet rank is in-
finitesimal."
Salisbury's accusations re-
main facts of history. They
have not been directly con-
demned by Mikhail Gor-
bachev and they remain the
responsibility of world Jewry
in the duty to rescue all who
can be saved from the Rus-
sian inferno.
From the traditional query
"Whence cometh help —
meayim yovo ezri?" (Psalm
12) comes the lasting reply.
All of us must come to the
rescue and carry the banner
of confidence so that, no mat-
ter what the threat to the res-
cuing processes, there will be
Jewish solidarity.
Will the Christian world
come to the aid of the oppress-
ed as many did in the days
and years that followed the
1903 Kishinev pogrom? Let
us retain a modicum of hope
that this will develop. ❑

Sutzkever: Poet's Yiddish Survivalism

W

ayne State Univer-
sity Press earns
added acclaim for its
scholarly Jewish bookshelf
with the publication of the
deeply moving poems of
Abraham Sutzkever.
The title of the volume of his
poems of the years 1970-72 is
The Fiddle Rose. It is explain-
ed as the over-arching
metaphor symbolizing the
poet and the moving
achievements testifying to the
music of poetry that aims to

l'HE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
(US PS 275-520) is published every
Friday with additional supplements
in February, March, May, August,
October • and November at 27676
Franklin Road, Southfield,
Michigan.

Second class postage paid at
Southfield, Michigan and addi-
tional mailing offices.

Postmaster Send changes to:
DETROIT JEWISH NEWS, 27676
Franklin Road, Southfield,
Michigan 48034

$29 per year
$37 per year out of state
75' single copy

Vol. XCVII No 16 June 15, 1990

2

FRIDAY, JUNE 15, 1990

survive the Holocaust and the
modern world's pains and
tragedies.
Many fascinations greet the
reader of Sutzkever's poems.
Some portions are illustrated
with impressive Marc
Chagall art works. They are
the evidence of the friendship
between the two distin-
guished personalities who
communicated in Yiddish.
The entire volume is a salute
to Yiddish.
The prominent authority in
Yiddish literature and
writers, Ruth Whitman, in
her introduction to the book
registers not only a tribute to
Sutzkever but also provides
basic facts about the status of
Yiddish, the influence it had
for centuries in Jewish life
and history. While there is not
much optimism about the
future of the language the
hope for it is sustained in the
translator. Ruth Whitman
was chosen by Sutzkever
himself for this task. There
are the knowledgeable in
Jewry who treat Yiddish with
affection as Ruth Whitman

does in the Sutzkever
assignment.
The Yiddish Sutzkever
originals and the Whitman
English texts appear on facing
pages. Her skill is evidenced
in the title poem "Fiddle
Rose." This is the Whitman
translation:

The Fiddle Rose
From resurrecting warm
rain
she begins to slowly
blossom, to grow —
with
the
(together
childhood of my aged
memory) —
the fiddle rose in her earth-
black coffin.

The fiddle rose doesn't
need a fiddler,
there's no one left to praise
or curse her.
She plays without a player,
with joy and faith
in honor of a reborn string.

In honor of a string, in
honor of its vibration,
in honor of a bee whose
honey is bitter
but whose sting is sweet,

Chagall's portrait of title poem
"The Fiddle Rose."

rt

e

Portrait of Abraham Sutzkever by
Marc Chagall.

so juicy and flowerlike —
in honor of a reborn pain.
Sutzkever's life relates to
the tragedies of the Nazi era.
His life in Vilna, his enroll-
ment in the ranks of the par-
tisans who fought the Ger-
mans with the underground

forces were filled with
dramatic experiences. He sur-
vived the horrors and settled
in Israel where he has lived
since 1947. He has edited a
Yiddish quarterly, Die
Goldene Keit, and has made
lasting contributions to
Jewish literature.
WSU Press enriches that
record with this important
volume of his poems. El

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