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August 07, 1992 - Image 40

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-08-07

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n one of the July Com-
mentaries in reference to
Max Fisher's congrega-
tional affiliations, I quoted
his biographer, Peter
Golden, who stated in Quiet
Diplomat that "U.S. Jewry
is largely becoming
secularized." This testing of
American Jewish ideological
commitments is not limited
to one of Michigan Jewry's
most distinguished leaders.
In fact, sectarianism has
never been removed from
trends in Jewish personal
and communal com-
We have evidence of it in a
new, challenging book, Sav-
ing Remnants by Sara Ber-
shtel and Allen Graubard
(The Free Press). In a review
of this volume in the New
York Time Book Review July
12, Robert Siegel excerpts
the secular team. Commen-
ting on some of the opinions
quoted, the reviewer ex-
pressed this opinion:

The author's comments
are always intelligent, but
at times unduly pes-
simistic. They think main-
stream Jewish religious
and communal life is ex-
cessively secularized,
propped up by such tem-
poral causes as Israel,
efforts to confront anti-
Semitism and the Ameri-
can system of voluntary
social services.
Indeed, the strengths of
mainstream American
synagogue and communal
life may lie more in its
adaptability and
pragmatism than in its in-
tellectual and spiritual
depths. The authors are,
after all, writing about as-
similated American Jews,
the descendants of immi-
grants, some of whom fled
their rabbis. Few here
mention an inspiring

The secularist idea was
exemplified in the judgment
of Max Fisher's role in Jew-
ish life.
If Saving Remnants is not
a sufficient definition of
what may be judged as prob-
lems for a study of Jewish
roles in our time, then it
may be more challenging
with another reference in
the review. Robert Siegel
provides the following:
Saving Remnants presents
many secular Jews who
would Probably abandon

Judaism if its merits were
only personal and spiritual,
stripped of rich cultural con-
text they value highly. But
it also presents stories of
many Jews who discover
their own reasons to be Jew-
There is much to be con-
sidered in the discussion.
Orthodoxy is most important
in the consideration of sec-
tarianism. Nevertheless, the
secular factor has never
been, nor will it ever be
strange in judging whatever
relates to "saving rem-

Today's Issues
Need Clarifying

Reading of developing
issues affecting the knowl-
edge of the average citizen
should encourage the well
informed to share with
fellow citizens the facts of
An example is the frequent
failure to be fully aware of
the interpretation of the
"Islamic" as threatening to
the Jewish people. An Arab
scholar writing to the New
York Times was moved by a
negative comment to provide
historical records to the con-
trary. The letter by S. Ash-
raf Meer of Philadelphia, pub-
lished July 7 under the head-
ing "Understanding Islam,"
quotes the creative issue and
provides the following:

As the Persian Gulf and
Iran-Iraq wars have
shown, Muslims are not a
monolithic political bloc
that can be addressed as
one; nor can they all be
assumed to share the
same opinions on Middle
East politics.
A large population of
Muslims inside and out-
side the Islamic world
does not seek the destruc-
tion of Israel. Nonfun-
damentalist Muslims like
myself do not share the
interpretation that
"Coexistence goes against
Islam's sense of world
order." The Koran
preaches religious

tolerance and coex-
istence. Islam and
Judaism have the same
Abrahamic origins.
Such efforts to create good
will must always be en-
Another issue that calls for
Jewish knowledge relafes to
the enmities aroused by the
disputes over abortion.
There is a clarification in

another letter published in
the Times. This one on July
8 is signed by Miriam
Kosowsky of Brookline,
Mass., a lawyer and former
president of children's rights
projects. The headline is
"Fate of the Unwanted." Ms.
Kosowsky wrote:

Who will protect and
love the children forced
into life by restrictions on
abortion that the
Supreme Court upheld in
Planned Parenthood of
Southern Pennsylvania
vs. Casey?
Where is the wise Court
of years past that
understood that restric-
tions are tools of the
powerful to deny and not
merely limit rights?
The Supreme Court's
recent decisions leave
many of us fearful that all
that has long made the
United States as beacon to
other nations will be ex-

We must utilize available
explanations in our lives. By
making proper use of them,
we prevent distortions and
we dignify the truth.

In Israel

Israel as a political entity
is always a subject for
discussion leading to ad-
miration. It is always be-
cause of recognition of Israel
among the dominant
democracies in the world
that the acclaim of it re-
mains virtually an hourly
source of pride.

Enthusiastic sharing in
such attainments was
evidenced in the June elec-
tion. Acclaim is encouraged
and multiplied in a post-
election report in Near East
Report of July 6, published
by AIPAC. It was written by
Leonard Davis, director of
AIPAC's Jerusalem office.
Here is a partial description
of the electorate responses:
Election day in Israel was
a civil holiday, but Ethiopi-
ans and Russians came to
the polls dressed as if it were
Rosh Hashanah. Some of the
older Russians came in their
suits bedecked with their
medals earned in World War
II . . . And they all greeted
the polling officials with a
cheery "chag sameach —

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