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May 15, 1992 - Image 22

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-05-15

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Heeding Hillel

Continued from Page 20

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FRIDAY. MAY 15. 1992

their thesis — that outside
forces pitted blacks against
Jews in Boston — to other
points of tension between
the two groups.
"In Boston (in the late
1960s), the situation was
ripe for corruption. The
blacks got cheated and
blamed it on the Jews." Mr.
Levine says he tried to "go
beyond the passions and
rhetoric of racism" and
underscore the importance
of each side explaining its
priorities — and fears — to
the other.
"We have to acknowledge
that the roots of racism and
anti-Semitism run deep," he
said, "and we in the Jewish
community need a sophisti-
cated political and economic
analysis of our own inter-
Mr. Levine draws parallels
to the Jews of Poland in the
16th through 18th centuries,
the subject of another of his
books published this year,

"corrupt and wasteful" and
should be completely re-
structured; American Jewry
is ignoring "the spiritual
dimension" of the mass
emigration of Soviet Jews
and that Israeli unprepared-
ness is "destroying the Soviet
aliyah. He also believes that
American Jewish organiza-
tions are too concerned
about the periphery, in
terms of assimilation and
intermarriage, and should
be concentrating on building
an exciting, creative center
of Jewish life.
An ordained rabbi, Hillel
Levine has made his mark
by blending his love for the
Jewish people with his pas-
sion for scholarship. "I'd
rather spend my time in the
archives than at endless fed-
eration meetings," he says.
His time has been well
spent — and it's time for us
to listen to what he has
learned. 1=1

Economic Origins of Anti-
Semitism. In it, he argues

that economics was the
prime cause of Polish anti-
Semitism, with Jews being
blamed for the country's
failure to modernize. "Here
the Jews were pitted against
the serfs by the landed gen-
try," Mr. Levine explained.
Again, when Jews are
caught in the middle, they
are convenient scapegoats.
Have we learned any
lessons? Definitely, Mr.
Levine says, pointing out the
success of communities like
Cleveland, Baltimore and
Detroit in stabilizing, old
Jewish neighborhoods by
providing low-interest loans
for young Jewish couples to
buy homes. He hopes to
follow up the Boston book
with a national comparative
study as a sequel.
The Jewish community
cannot afford the financial
or psychological expense of
abandoning a neighborhood
when blacks begin to move
in, Mr. Levine says. "It's
wasteful and traumatic."
Jewish organizations must
participate in the process,
unlike Boston in the 1960s,
where the Jewish communal
response was "too little, too
late," Mr. Levine says.
Despite his reputation as a
critic of the Jewish Estab-
lishment, Mr. Levine is ac-
tive in the Boston federa-
tion. "I sit on committees
and I say critical things," he
says, "but I'm involved and
committed. I see myself as
an insider, not an outsider."
He is as outspoken as ever
on. a wide range of Jewish
issues. He says that: the
Jewish Agency and World
Zionist Organization are


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JPM Seniors
Plan Events

A classical music recital
featuring Adele Kosadayev -
and Company will be pre-
sented at the Jimmy Prentis
Morris Jewish Community
Center 2 p.m. May 24. There
is no charge.
Weekly drop-in party bridge
games will be offered
Tuesdays at 12:30 p.m. at the
JPM. Individuals at all skill
levels are invited to par-
ticipate. Supplies are provid-
ed and light refreshments
will be served. There is a
A Low Vision Support
Group will meet 12:30 p.m. on
the fourth Wednesday of each
month at JPM. Transporta-
tion is available from
designated areas. There is a
nominal charge. For informa-
tion, call Margo Weitzer,
Sinai Hospital and the JCC
will present a lecture on
"Stroke Prevention and
Recovery" 1 p.m. May 28 at
JPM. A senior health screen-
ing will be offered 1-3:30 p.m.
that afternoon. There is no


SPACE For Changing
Families is seeking volun-
teers to work with semi-
retired, retired, separated,
divorced or widowed members
of the community as a peer
If interested, call SPACE,

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