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October 09, 1992 - Image 50

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-10-09

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

N ws

COMMUNITY TAY SACHS
SCREENING PROGRAM

October 25
10 a.m. TO 1 p.m.
Sinai Hospital's Berry Health Center
28500 Orchard Lake Road
Farmington Hills

New Rabbi Installed
In Czechoslovakia

Tay Sachs is a rare genetic disease that a baby inherits from both
parents which causes progressive destruction of the central nervous
system and death by age five. There is no cure for the disease.
Most carriers are Jews of Eastern European descent.

You should be tested if you are over age 17, considering marriage
or pregnancy, or had been tested for the disease prior to 1980.

No appointments are necessary for the screening. The cost is $10.

This event is sponsored by the Sinai Hospital Guild, the Sinai
department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Jolson AZA
Chapter of the Michigan Region B'nai B'rith Youth Organization.

For more information, call Robin Gold at 493-6060.

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z

Prague (JTA) — In a 75-
minute ceremony just before
Rosh Hashanah services
Sept. 27, Karol Sidon was
formally installed as the
rabbi of Prague before a
standing-room-only au-
dience at the city's ornate
Jubilee synagogue.
Rabbi Sidon, 50, filled the
gap left when the previous
rabbi, Daniel Mayer, was
forced to resign two years
ago following revelations of
his links with the local
secret police.
In an address at his in-
stallation, Rabbi Sidon —
who was a well-known
dissident playwright before
becoming involved in Jewish
studies at the end of the
1970s — stressed the impor-
tance of knowing and caring
about Jewish traditions.
As rabbi of Prague — and
the only rabbi in the Czech
republic — Rabbi Sidon will
be the spiritual leader of a
Jewish community facing
many problems as it copes
with the transition from life
under communism to life
under democracy.
"Are you sure you only
have one day to talk about
our problems?" Rabbi Sidon
joked in an interview a few
days before his installation.
The Prague Jewish com-
munity numbers about 1,500
(out of a total of about 3,000
in the Czech republic), most
of whom are elderly Holo-
caust supTivors. However,
the community has divisions
and sometimes friction
among the strictly Orthodox,
liberal and Reform currents.
"My first goal is to help
the community to be Jewish,
to help these people feel that
they are part of the Jewish
nation," Rabbi Sidon said.
"When Israel came out of
Egypt, first they felt them-
selves a nation, and then
they got the Torah at Sinai,"
he said. "I want first that
(Prague Jews) feel that they
belong to the entire Jewish
people. There is no nation
without the Torah and no
Torah without the nation.
You can't divide them."
One of the most pressing
problems facing the com-
munity involves Jewish
identity. Many younger
community members, in-
cluding some who are the
most active in community
affairs, are children of mar-
riages in which the mother
is not Jewish and thus are
not considered Jewish under
traditional Jewish law.
"Most members of the

kehilla (community) are Or-
thodox," said Rabbi Sidon.
"That's OK. But in the
future, the kehilla will build
on young people, on assimi-
lated people — my genera-
tion and my children's ge-
neration.
"They are returning to
Judaism but don't know
anything," he said.
Rabbi Sidon said he has al-
ready held meetings with
more than two dozen people
who have "been waiting for
years" to be formally con-
verted to Judaism, and had
arranged to hold weekly
study groups with them to
prepare the way.
"It won't be just for those
who want to convert — but
for others, too, to learn about
Judaism," Rabbi Sidon said.
"The focus will be on re-
ligious observance, simple
things."
Rabbi Sidon knows the
problems and pitfalls of
returning to Judaism from
his own experience. Though

The previous rabbi
was linked to the
secret police..

he says he grew up feeling
Jewish, he is the son of a
Jewish father and a non-
Jewish mother.
His father was killed by
the Nazis in the Terezin con-
centration camp in 1944 and
as a toddler, Rabbi Sidon
was forced to stay in hiding.
Eventually, his mother
remarried another Jewish
man.
He underwent formal con-
version to Judaism in 1978.
Rabbi Sidon was a well-
known writer and
playwright in the 1970s and
along with Vaclav Havel
was one of the founders of
the dissident Charter 77
movement in 1977.
Increasingly involved in
Judaism and Jewish studies,
he left Czechoslovakia after
his conversion because of his
political views and in order
to move to Germany to con-
tinue Judaic studies.
"I didn't think I had
enough strength to be a
rabbi," he said. "I thought
I'd finish my studies and
then be a teacher."
After the 1989 revolution
in Czechoslovakia, however,
and the forced resignation of
Rabbi Mayer, the Prague
community called on him to
go to Israel and complete
rabbinical studies in order to
return to Prague as rabbi.

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