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January 21, 1994 - Image 4

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1994-01-21

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

It Should Not Take
A Missile To Garner Response

In national Jewish circles, it's sometimes joked
that perhaps the worst thing that can happen to
a fund-raising campaign is peace. Jews have al-
ways responded with an uncommon sense of ur-
gency when it comes to giving, especially during
a crisis. Nationally, Detroit is looked upon as one
of the leaders.
In recent memory, Detroit raised millions and
millions of dollars to help in the international ef-
fort to resettle both Soviet and Ethiopian Jews.
SCUD missile attacks on Tel Aviv rallied thou-
sands of Detroiters together on a Sunday after-
noon at Shaarey Zedek.
Now, however, Israel is talking peace, be it out-
right with the Palestinians, or vaguely with Jor-
dan and Syria. But, still, there aren't any missiles
flying; and Israel is working on facilitating the lo-
gistics, practicalities and possibilities of this word,
"peace."
But that brings around to another issue. A "war"
that's going on, if you will. There are no national
TV cameras honed in on any casualties. It's not
all that dramatic.
There is a crisis going on right here in Detroit.
We've written about it before, and we still urge
your response. There are Jews in this metro area
whom you know, who are eating a lot of macaroni
and cheese, night after night for dinner. There are
men who lie in bed and stare at the ceiling that
night wondering how they are going to pay the
rent or mortgage that's already two months in ar-
rears. Many of these same men wonder who that
"monster" was inside of their bodies who caused
them to hit their spouse, their children.
Some of us need job training. Some of us need
a loan for a car so that we can make it back and
forth to work. A broken down car, without the re-
sources to repair or replace it, can result in un-
employment. Some of us are entering the job
market for the very first time, after raising the
children, driving the car pool, and watching a mar-

riage break up. Day schools need more money, or
they'll be in a position to exclude families who are
asking for a Jewish education, but can't afford
it.
This is the war; this is the crisis. We're often
afraid to ask for help because we don't want any-
one to know that we're hungry or that we're hurt-
ing.
If we could capture what's happening around
us on television with the guarantee that no dig-
nity would be lost through recognition, it would
create that sense of urgency.
We are not an agency of the Detroit Jewish Fed-
eration. We've had our share of disagreements
this past year over the handling of Borman Hall,
funding for education and other issues. However,
Federation provides services on the day-to-day
that are critical to the lives of thousands of De-
troit Jews.
This Sunday is Super Sunday, the day when
volunteers will call us and ask for our support.
These volunteers aren't exclusively the rich, the
elite. They are from every walk of life and age
group in this community. They are your neigh-
bors. They don't call with a SCUD missile story
as motivation. They call, though, because there's
a crisis going on in this community. If individuals
living lives of quiet desperation are too embar-
rassed to ask, we'll ask you for them. Please re-
spond generously on Sunday.
As one West Bloomfield man told The Jewish
News, "For years I gave money to the Federation.
Now, I'm getting help from them."
Issues of how much money stays here versus
the amount that goes to Israel are secondary now.
A disagreement over that ratio should not be a
reason not to give. The "war" continues at home.
And it's one that individual Jews, not a Jewish
state or a territory, but a community member, a
neighbor, could very well lose.

A Green Holiday

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A relatively minor Jewish holiday, Tu B'She-
vat, the "New Year for Trees," begins at sun-
down next Wednesday, the 15th of the Jewish
month of Shevat. As minor as it may be, the
"New Year for Trees" has great importance to-
day. Its import stems not from the original pur-
pose of the festival (the demarcation date for
the tithing levied in ancient Israel on the pro-
duce of fruit trees), but because of the ecologi-
cal crisis that the world — and especially the
United States — faces today.
Americans are blessed with a large country
with extraordinary natural resources. We also
are blessed to be living in a time when com-
merce and transportation make it possible for
us to eat hamburgers from cattle raised in South
America, where giant rain forests were cleared
so the cows can graze. Or to use vehicles whose
powerful engines let us race to distant places
in a fraction of the time that it took our grand-
parents.

Yet as blessed as we are, the environment is
not blessed by our attitude toward it. Not only
do we take it for granted, but we also have one
of the worst environmental records on the plan-
et:
* On a per capita basis, Americans release
into the atmosphere the largest amount of air
pollutants of any people. Yet, the United States
spends less on air pollution control as a per-
centage of public research and development
funds than Canada, Germany, the United Kmg-
dom and other countries.
* The U.S. leads the 19 major industrial na-
tions in the percentage of wooded areas lost dur-
ing the last two decades.
* The U.S. leads industrial countries in per
capita paper consumption, garbage output per
person and junk mail — 252 pieces per person.
* We also top the world in per capita gasoline
consumption — and in major oil spills affecting
our shores and coastline.



Letters

Communal Leaders
And Jewish Education

Congratulations on your fine
editorial regarding Jewish ed-
ucation and the interview with
Dr. Smiley (Dec. 24).
It is clear that today th eis-
sue of Jewish survival (I won't
use "continuity" because it does
not have the ring of the crisis
we face) is the realm of suicide
rather than murder. All the
available statistics demonstrate
clearly that children
who have a day
school education
for at least
eight years
show re-
mark-

ably different behavior than
those who do not.
They regard Israel more
highly. They are much less like-
ly to intermarry. They know
more about observance and are
much more liley to hold on to
being Jewish. And it is clear
that a day education is not cho-
sen by many purely because of
financial constraints.
Your editorial was a call to
action, but it was not the first
such call to action. Those of us
who have been active in the day
school movement have long is-
sued such calls. I have listened
and waited for the last couple
of weeks to see whether the in-
dividuals who are prominent in
the community would respond
loudly, forcefully, and affirma-
tively to your public and dis-
passionate call. I am still
waiting.
We live today in a sociologi-
cal desert. Our people is dying,
day by day. But we know that
day schools can, and do, provide
the focus and guidance which
can break us out of our crisis.

Unfortunately, the people may
not be able to bring more than
enough on their own to build
and maintain these schools.
Will our leadership be first in
line, or will they stand back and
show their importance by com-
ing in at the end?

Leonard I. Wanetik

West Bloomfield

Hebrew Needs
More Emphasis

It was refreshing to read the ar-
ticle "Learning the language of
our fathers and daughters" by
Shirlee Iden (Dec. 31). These
parents followed their
daughter's footsteps
to study the He-
brew lan-
guage. Ms.
Shulamit
Katznels on,
the founder
of Ulpan
Akiva,
should be
commend-
ed for a
place
where the
ingathering
of the exiles
can learn
Hebrew.
But, the
real Hebrew culture is deterio-
rating in Israel. The Torah, Tal-
mud, Mishna, Jewish history,
Israeli and Diaspora history,
somehow are neglected in the
schools.
Let's hope that Jewish
schools in our area will teach
more and better Hebrew and
other religious studies. As we
have one Torah, one nation, one
land, Hebrew should be the
only official language of Israel.

Shlomo Micznik

Southfield

Letters Policy



Letters must be typewrit-
ten, double-space& and in
elude the name, home
address, daytime phone
number and signature of
the writer.
Brief letters (less than a
page), arriving by noon
Tuesday, will be given pref-
erence.

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