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July 30, 1993 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-07-30

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

Editor's Notebook

Community Views

We're Losing Jews
To The 'Love Bombers'

Helping Single,
Jewish Mothem

PHIL JACOBS EDITOR

HARLEM W. APPELMAN SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH NEWS

Two incidents
this
week
brought back a
comment made
to me during
Tisha B'Av sev-
eral years ago.
The first: A
close friend and
Jewish commu-
nal professional said if we can
learn anything from Christian
missionary movements and
cults, it's that they are winning
the emotional ball game.
Bothersome, scary and prob-
ably true. How many of usknow
Jews who say with bitterness:
"I'm not going back to that syn-
agogue because no one talked to
me the entire time I was there."
Or, "I dropped out of Judaism
because the only reason people
-- came to my bar mitzvah was to
eat, not to hear me read from
the Torah."
Each year, groups such as
\ Messianic Jews and Jews for Je-
sus, and cults ranging from Sci-
• entology to Insight, are bringing
in a disproportionate number of
Jews. They don't have to force
anyone in because these Jews
I are typically emotionally turned
off by what they've seen at home
or at synagogue.
Very few of these "converts"
, to the cults have taken an hon-
est, learning approach to their
• own Judaism: an approach
' where they want to find out
what our sages have taught and
why Torah is a beautiful tree of
life for all Jews. That can be long
forgotten when they walk into
a synagogue and feel unwel-
come.
Many of us, unfortunately,
graduated from the "let's cele-
brate our bar or bat mitzvah
and drop out of sight" school of
Judaism. We were only prac-
ticing what our parents had

members. Another reason they
are drawn to these groups is
that they know so little about
Judaism that even out-of-con-
text religious doctrine becomes
compelling.
They are interested because
they see, at first, a "family" liv-
ing what appears to be a re-
warding and fulfilling lifestyle.
Or they hear a "religious leader"
say what they believe will give
them hope and strength.
A woman called our office last

week and unraveled a story
about her son. He was raised in
a "good Jewish home," she said.
He was bar mitzvah and at-
tended services on the holidays
with his parents. He even came

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/- done. Judaism becomes re-
newed when the children need
to become educated. Yet, along
the way, Judaism is less im-
portant than watching televi-
sion or hitting the mall on a
Friday night.
Those who join cults are at-
tracted away from Judaism be-
cause, at least on the surface,
they are "love bombed" by cult

up through a Jewish youth
group.
Then as a young adult and
college graduate, he joined a
leading multi-level business. In
that business, he met many
friends. They turned him on to
Christianity, and he converted.
His mother asked: "What can
my husband and I do now?"
Also last week, I met a young

man who had seen a story I
wrote years ago about Messianic
Judaism. In as many words, he
told me he wasn't able to glean
the emotional support he need-
ed from his traditional Jewish
upbringing, and that Messian-
ic Judaism spoke to him of love
and support.
Clearly, he needed to look
closer at what he had available
before leaving for something
else.
But maybe he had gone for

help, and it wasn't there.
There are many rabbis and
Jews who don't have the exten-
sive knowledge to debate the ar-
guments of a cult. But the truth
is, there's nothing to debate.
It doesn't take a book to teach
a child that Judaism is real and
relevant. All children have to do
is look around their home. If
they see Judaism is a priority
for their parents, if they know
it as a backdrop for their lives,
they won't need to go elsewhere.
There are, of course, no guar-
antees. But we have to do a
much better job of learning.
We're great at collecting
pledges, at affixing plaques on
our walls and decorating our
buildings. Now we have to learn
how to love and welcome one
another: offer a handshake, a
phone call, a support network.
Many in this community are
hurting. If we don't help them,
they'll go elsewhere for support.
And as long as they do, another
segment of our community will
continue to die. It will be a con-
tinuation of Tisha B'Av, not just
as a fast during the summer,
but day by day. ❑

SJF, 25+, in
pain, juggling job,
mortgage and
kids, perpetually
dieting and fre-
quently exhaust-
ed, seeks com-
munity.
On Tuesday,
August 3, 1993,
at Oakland Community College,
Orchard Ridge Campus an
evening will be devoted to an-
swering the above ad. The
evening, "An Institute for Single
Jewish Mothers," is designed as
a catalyst to bring together
women of all ages to address le-
gal, financial and spiritual is-
sues.
Some have questioned the
need for such an evening. Some
have commented that it's long
overdue. According to a mono-
graph written by Dr. Lynda
Giles titled, "What It's Like to
Live as a Divorced Woman in the
Jewish Community," "single
Jewish mothers have no role
models to guide them, to give
them direction in terms of home
and family. When we think of a
Jewish grandmother or a Jew-
ish mother, we do not think of
a divorced woman ... Divorced
women do not have role models
to use to support self-esteem."
It is the hope of Jewish Expe-
riences for Families that by pro-
viding an evening of important
information, resources and ca-
maraderie, we can address this
issue. Women such as Dr. Joyce
Brothers, Esther Shapiro, Judge
Susan Borman, and Harriet Rot-
ter will be on hand to offer in-
formation and answer questions.
Each of these areas was se-
lected to offer a hands-on, down-
to-earth approach to issues that
continually sap the strength of
women trying to go it alone.How
many times have women sat in
front of an attorney, a financial
adviser or a job counselor and
wanted to ask questions for
which there seemed to be no
time or, even worse, a lack of in-
terest? These sessions are de-
signed to be interactive so that
participants can get those ques-
tions answered.
But, the evening is meant to
be more than a "how to do it"
night. It is designed to not only
offer some ways of solving these
problems, but also to identify is-
sues for future meetings of this
nature. The evening is an invi-
tation and a statement. It is an
outreach that says families take
on all shapes and sizes and that
we need to stick together and
help each unit cope in the best

way it can. It is a statement that
says that every family is valu-
able to each segment of the Jew-
ish community whether it's the
congregation, the Jewish Com-
munity Center, or community
camps, and that we need to be
very sure that every family
knows about the community re-
sources available. That's why the
evening is being launched with
a community resource exhibit.
This problem is not new to our
community. It is an issue with
which the Jewish Family Ser-
vice, the Jewish Vocational Ser-
vice and Space (National Council
of Jewish Women) have been
confronted on a daily basis. How-
ever, with families in transition
becoming a larger and larger
number in our community, we
need to do even more. This
evening is the first in what we
hope to be an ongoing outreach
to reinforce the fact that there is
an important place in the Jew-
ish community for them. It is an
evening designed for women to
connect with one another along
with getting some sound infor-
mation.
Nit is continuity that concerns

us, then it is important to note
that according to our demo-
graphic study in the Detroit Jew-
ish community, single Jewish
mothers hold the destiny of as
many as 1,500 children in their
hands. The fact is that single
Jewish mothers find it finan-
cially difficult and socially awk-
ward to remain attached to the
Jewish community. We must
help make the Jewish commu-
nity as user friendly as possible
for this population.
However, it is also important
that women, both divorced and
widowed, facing these issues and
women supporting women fac-
ing these issues attend this event
at Oakland Community College.
In order to continue the outreach
and plan additional meaningful
programs and services, women
need to respond to and validate
Harlene Appleman is a com- the effort. It is too easy to say,
munity educator and frequent "It's about time, or where were
contributor to Community you when..." This is an evening
SINGLE MOTHERS page 13
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