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June 18, 1993 - Image 32

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-06-18

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

ur Ancestors

The Arms Find Jokes,
Religion In Russia

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RUTH LITTMANN STAFF WRITER

led The Desert

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7-
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uan Conquer

The Stairmaster.

Milton and Claire Arm

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But best of all, the new JCC is air-conditioned.
Which is more than you can say for the Sinai
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limited to the first 350 memberships.
Some restrictions apply.

CC

Learn how to take
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UJ

C/)

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LU

E-

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CC

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LLJ

LLI

32

071

A Public Service of This Newspaper
& The Advertising Council

Well Help.
WillYou?

abbi Milton Arm
recently returned to
Southfield after a
month-long trip to the
former Soviet Union, where
he cracked KGB jokes dur-
ing Yiddish classes he
taught at Touro College in
Moscow.
A few years ago, Russian
students ran the risk of
imprisonment for laughing
at the government: These
days, things are different.
"There is total freedom,"
said Rabbi Arm, who trav-
eled with his wife, Claire.
"We encountered no limita-
tions about what to study
and say. There's no fear.
We poked fun at Yeltsin as
much as we do Clinton."
The rabbi emeritus at
Congregation Beth Achim
volunteered to teach the
Book of Judges to 50 stu-
dents enrolled in the
Yiddish Studies Depart-
ment. He joined other
American teachers partici-
pating in a Russian/ Jewish
educational program spon-
sored by the Foundation for
the Advancement of
Yiddish Studies and Touro
College. .
Rabbi Arm serves as
chairman of the founda-
tion's American chapter.
There is another chapter in
Israel. The foundation
promises Russian Jewish
students a trip to Israel if
they excel in Yiddish stud-
ies.
The rabbi was pleased to
discover that Russian Jews
have a thirst to learn more
about their religious her-

R

itage, which was sup-
pressed during the reign of
communism.
"There are those who
have not given up their
Judaism, their Jewish
souls," Mrs. Arm said. "Now
it's been unshackled. Now
they want to learn what
their Jewishness is all
about."
"There are people there
who, in one year, have
learned more than people
who've gone through years of
religious school here in
America," Rabbi Arm added.
In addition to teaching,
Rabbi Arm toured and
attended Jewish cultural
events. The couple was
amazed at the 2,000-person
turnout at Yom
Yerushalayim celebrations
in Moscow. Jews gathered
to commemorate the reuni-
fication of Jerusalem after
the 1967 War. They sang
Hebrew songs and listened
to former Israeli President
Yitzchak Navon address the
crowd.

"We poked fun at
Yeltsin as much as
we do Clinton."

Rabbi Milton Arm

"We also felt a kinship in
being part of this vast
assemblage," Rabbi Arm
said. "It would've been
unheard of two years ago."
The Arms didn't
encounter any anti-
Semitism, though Russian
Jews say it exists. They saw
beggars, but Mrs. Arm said
lines for food are not as
long as the American media
claims. No one, she said,
supports Russian President
Boris Yeltsin.
"I didn't hear one word in
favor of him," she said.
Despite the continuing
political strife, however,
Rabbi Arm looks on the
bright side. Things have
changed. He spoke to a
Yiddish student who told
him a story about a friend
who, in the 1950s, climbed
a ladder to kiss an Israeli
flag hung in honor of a visit
by then-Ambassador Golda
Meir.
Members of the KGB saw
the man. He was never seen
again. 0

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