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May 06, 1994 - Image 19

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1994-05-06

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

Teens Air Views
On Hot Topics

JENNIFER FINER STAFF WRITER

D

uring a discussion on in-
termarriage, Shoshana
Kraus told her peers to
look at everyone in the
room and divide that number in
half.
"Half of you would not be here.
Gone. No more Jews," she said.
(The current intermarriage rate
for the Jewish community is
more than 50 percent.)
Shoshana made her remarks
Sunday during Jewish Heritage
Night, a B'nai B'rith Youth Or-
ganization and Agency for Jew-
ish Education program aimed at
highlighting the similarities and
differences between Jews raised
in other countries and with var-
ious levels of religious obser-
vance. With a grant from the
Max M. Fisher Foundation, three
Jewish Heritage Nights are
planned each year.
During this program, teen
panelists from Canada, Israel,
the former Soviet Union and the
United States talked with BBYO
members about controversial is-
sues.
Ted Goodman, 17, and Jessi-
ca Feldman, 18, co-chairs of the
event, agreed the program con-
veyed a distinct message.
"Even though we are all Jew-
ish, we all have different points
of view," Ted said.
Intermarriage, teen suicide
and Israel were among the top-
ics raised by Phil Jacobs, editor
of The Jewish News, who mod-
erated the talk-show format dis-
cussion.
A majority of the panelists, in-
cluding Lisa Zaks, a 17-year-old
North Farmington High School
senior, spoke out against inter-
marriage.
"If you have a Christmas tree
and Chanukah candles, how is a
7-year-old child supposed to de-
cide which religion they want to
practice?" Lisa asked.
One audience member, the
child of a mixed marriage, re-
sponded that she had made that
very decision when, as a young
girl, she opted to identify as Jew-
ish.
Others, like Maria Kirzhner,
a 15-year-old who left the former
Soviet Union two years ago, said
she did not see a problem with
intermarriage as long as "you
love someone and want to spend
your life with him."
Some BBYOers, including
those whose parents have mixed
marriages, echoed Maria's sen-
timents.
"Our youth have a lot of good
things to say," said Julie
Lebowitz, BBYO program su-
pervisor. "A forum like this is too

rare. People don't give youths
credit for their beliefs. Tonight is
an excellent opportunity for that."
Audience members also dis-
cussed teen suicide, saying it's
a subject rarely talked about.
Panelist Sarah Chopp, a 15-
year-old Akiva Hebrew Day
School student, suggested the
community offer a support group
for Jewish teens.
Sunday's forum ended with a
talk on the importance of Israel.
Panelist and Israel native Ziv
Rogowsky said he doesn't see
much American involvement in
Israel. "People ask me, 'Do you

"Even though we are
all Jewish, we all
have different points
of view."

— Ted Goodman

have cars in Israel or does every-
one ride camels?' I don't think
these people can get involved."
"One of the most moving mo-
ments in my life was when I vis-
ited Yad Vashem," said BBYO
audience member Ronit Reger.
"I remember walking out of there
and looking over Jerusalem and
feeling more secure than during
any time in my life. American
Jews need Israel and Israel
needs American Jews."
Sarena Freedman, a senior at
Sally Allen Alexander Beth Ja-
cob School for Girls, and Aaron
Lazarus, a 15-year-old Windsor
resident, were also on the
panel. ❑

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