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November 16, 1990 - Image 22

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-11-16

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

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22

LYNN PORTNOY

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 1990

Detroit, MI 964-0339

Cross-Cultural Evening
Success At Temple Israel

LINDA WATER

Special to The Jewish. News

W

hile the printed pro-
gram for "Building
Bridges of
Understanding" describes
music and dance, the real
agenda featured optimism
and enthusiasm, along with a
plea for understanding and
communication.
More than 1,000 members
of Temple Israel of West
Bloomfield and the Chaldean
Iraqi Association of Michigan
shared the cross-cultural
evening Nov. 8 featuring a
program of Jewish and Chal-
dean songs and folk dance
groups.
Representatives of both
organizations said that hun-
dreds of people interested in
attending had to be turned
away because of space
limitations.
A capacity crowd had a
chance to socialize informal-
ly and view exhibits of Chal-
dean crafts and artifacts that
had been placed side-by-side
with the permanent exhibits
in the temple lobby.
For most, however, this was
not their first Jewish-
Chaldean social experience.
Sid Rubin of Temple Israel,
co-chairman for the program,
said, "Chaldeans have been
part of my family's life here
for 25 years. When we moved
into our first home, the
neighbors who knocked on
the door to welcome us were
Chaldean. They have become
life-long friends."
Mr. Rubin and Temple
Israel again have Chaldean
neighbors, and that was the
impetus behind the program,
which capped a week of cross-
cultural programs offered
through the West Bloomfield
Schools.
In 1989, the Chaldean Ira-
qi Association purchased the
Shenandoah Country Club
property, directly across the
street from Temple Israel as
a site for a recreation and
cultural center for the Detroit
Chaldean community.
In his opening remarks,
Michael George, president of
the Chaldean Iraqi Associa-
tion of Michigan, recalled the
negative press that accom-
panied that purchase.
"There was talk," he said,
"of lowered property values
and of the area becoming run-
down. In reality, the Shenan-
doah was so deteriorated that
it couldn't have become more
so unless the bulding had
collapsed.
"We planned a $250,000 in-

vestment in renovation. The
figure has already climbed to
over $1-million, and is still
rising . . . Our hope is to have
a facility as magnificant as
Temple Israel, and to
reciprocate the hospitality
that we are being shown," Mr.
George added.
Co-chairman Kenny Zair,
representing the Chaldean
Iraqi Association spoke to the
timeliness of the program,
which celebrates an ongoing
dialogue between Temple
Israel and the Chaldean
Association.
"Since we began planning
the program more than six
months ago, we could never
have anticipated the course of
world events. Activities in the
Middle East, however, gave
new meaning to Bridges of
Understanding. If anything,
we all became more commit-
ted."
Charles Tobias, president of
Temple Israel, indicated that
two permanent committees
have been formed to continue
the dialogue, one comprised of
adults from the congregation
and the Chaldean Associa-
tion, and another designed to
provide an interchange bet-
ween the respective high
school youth groups.
Representatives of both
Temple Israel and the Chal-
dean Iraqi Association
pointed to the prejudice of ig-
norance and expressed .a
desire to draw community at-
tention to the things they
share rather than to their
differences.
"As minorities, Jews and
Chaldeans are often the vic-
tims of bigotry and prejudice,"
Mr. Tobias said. "Our
similarities are greater than
our differences, and this is
more than simply a gathering
of friends. It is a way to max-
imize our potential —
together."
The emphasis of the even-
ing was on the need for com-
munication and a retelling of
personal experiences.

One Temple Israel member
who teaches English to Chal-
dean students indicated that
she was there to get more of
a feeling of the culture that
her students share. A
Southfield woman from the
Chaldean Association, who
had spent the day in the Tem-
ple Israel kitchen helping for
the social hour, said that it
was simply a day of being
with "friends . . . some
Jewish friends I've known for
years, and others I just met to-
day."



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