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April 09, 1993 - Image 49

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-04-09

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

the ad would never have run
if it had, say, denied the his-
tory of slavery.
"This is the same school
that gives tests on Yom Kip-
pur," says Mark Bernstein. "I
think the next generation of
Jewish student leaders need
to understand that their cam-
puses are going to be increas-
ingly anti-Semitic."

Separate Circles

Some of the ill feeling has
spilled into social relations be- -
tween Jews and other groups,
particularly blacks. At a cam-
pus speech by the black ac-
tivist Rev. Al Sharpton from
New York, Jews and blacks
shouted each other down dur-
ing a question-and-answer pe-
riod.
Efforts are being made to
improve communications
across the divide of mutual
suspicion. Blacks and Jews on
campus hold regular dia-
logues, led by a trained facil-
itator, to discuss race, religion
and what it means to be a mi-
nority.
These conversations are not
feel-good sessions, says David
Schoem, assistant dean of un-
dergraduate education. More
than one participant has left
crying.
"Students live their lives al-
most completely apart from
groups with different religious
or ethnic backgrounds," says
Mr. Schoem, who has run the
intergroup-relations program
for four years. "In our separate

About 18 percent of the University of Michigan's 16,300 undergraduates are Jewish, and they tend to band together.

worlds, we often don't realize
how we treat others."
Jewish students are sur-
prised at what blacks consider
racism and racial stereotyp-
ing, he points out. And black
students are surprised to
learn that Jews define them-
selves as anything more than
a religious group.
Mr. Schoem blames Jewish
education for that. It "created
Jews who really are not able
to articulate what it means to
be Jewish to non-Jews," he ar-
gued in his doctoral disserta-

tion in sociology. "A Jewish At last year's Rose Bowl, an-
other senior recalls, many
student will typically say, "I'm
Jewish students from Michi-
Jewish, but I'm not religious.'
Blacks have a hard time un- gan somehow ended up in the
same area at a huge rally be-
derstanding that."
Ann Arbor is supposed to be fore the football game. "How
we found each other I don't
a crucible of diversity, a cul-
know," she says. "It's like a
turally and racially sensitive
campus. But more often sep- magnet."
Some groups of Jewish stu-
aratism wins out, and Jewish
dents feel self-conscious about
students, religious or not, are
no exception. They congregate banding together. "I think
on the "Diag," or main campus from the outside it looks 67
walkway, in particular bars, noxious," says Cheryl Mill-
and in some areas of the li- man, a senior. There are the
brary, says Mark Bernstein. inevitable jokes: Jewish soror-

-

ity sisters frequently are de-
scribed as "JAPS" — Jewish-
American Princesses — and
Sigma Delta Tau, a predomi-
nantly Jewish sorority, is nick
named "Spend Daddy's
Trillions."

Dynamic Hillel

The most visible part of
Jewish life is Hillel. "Students
choose this campus because of
this Hillel," says Mr. Bern-
stein, even if many never walk
through its doors.
But unlike other Hillels,

Hillel Is More Than A Place To Pray

"At most Hillels, the lounge
is the first place you see," says
Michael Brooks, executive di-
rector of the University of
Michigan's Hillel Foundation.
Instead, the front door of
Ann Arbor's. three-year-old
Hillel building opens onto
two-story hallways. Doors
lead to an auditorium and the
lounge. Down the hallway is
a workroom for student pub-
lications. At the back of the
building are offices for staff.
The second floor has class-
rooms.
"At this Hillel, it is perfect-
ly possible for two active Jew-
ish students not to meet each
other until they graduate,"

says Rabbi Brooks.
Diversity is more than an
architectural goal here.
The Michigan Hillel pub-

lishes a general opinion mag-
azine, runs a film series, helps
reward the best professor on
campus, and sponsors speak-
ers on not-necessarily-Jewish
topics.
It hosts seven Israel-relat-
ed groups and runs a Jewish
arts series. Several special-in-
terest groups include those for
Jewish feminists, Sephardic
Jews and homosexual Jews.
Hillel sponsors a non-credit
class on Israeli folk dancing.
It runs another one on ancient
Jewish texts. It hosts Project

Mitzvah, which brings volun-
teer students to needy insti-
tutions in Ann Arbor.
"There is always a pletho-
ra of programming here," says
director Joseph Cohane. "We
have to be a total community
that reflects different aspects
of Jewish life. This is not hap-
hazard. We emphasize the po-
litical as well as the spiritual,
the cultural as well as the so-
cial. Our mission is to find a
person's focus and enrich it."
Rabbi Brooks adds that
students have to be integral
players in creating their own
institution. "We are seeing an
extraordinarily high number
of people who connect to the

Jewish community in a way
that is comfortable to them,
whether it's giving to UJA or
going to a soup kitchen to
help."
He points to past students
who, because of a particular
program, got active in Hillel.
One who wrote for the opin-
ion magazine, he says, is now
assistant director of the Los
Angeles Jewish Federation.
"If (worship) services were
the only programming, than
you would lose that kid," he
says. "It's not just a numbers
issue. If we just wanted to
bring people into the building,
we would put a pinball ma-
chine in the lobby."

CT,
CS,

CC

(2-

49

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