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September 30, 1994 - Image 60

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1994-09-30

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



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s a comprehensive peace

approaches in the Middle
East, American Jews are
redefining their relation-
ship to Israel, their relationship
to Judaism, their relationship to
each other as a people.
That's the conclusion of a
front-page article in the Wall
Street Journal — "American
Jews Grapple With An Identity
Crisis As Peril to Israel Ebbs."
The storks subhead: 'They Used
to Rally Together To Protect Holy
Land: What Unites Them Now?
Soup Kitchens and `Seinfeld."'
The reporter, Amy Dockser
Marcus, states that the peace
process "has divided the Israeli
and American Jewish communi-
ties in a way neither anticipated:
by making them realize that,
once Israel's survival is assured,
the two sides will no longer share
a common agenda.
"Certainly, there will always
be a special bond between the
two and, if Israel is threatened,
there is no doubt that U.S. Jews
will rally again. But for now,
American Jewish leaders are
casting about for a new way for
the U.S. Jewish community to
define itself, apart from Israel.
Some are focusing on involve-
ment in social causes at home,
like inner-city poverty. Others
are trying to forge a new Jewish
identity with a more American
flavor, revising Hebrew school
classes to emphasize American
Jews in U.S. history, rather than
Israeli history."
Concurrent with this re-
assessment of Israeli-U.S. Jew-

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60

s something sacred to
Penthouse publisher Bob
Guccione after all?
According to Esquire,
Mr. Guccione's magazine re-
cently scrapped a photo
spread that was even "too
controversial" for the man
who seeks controversy:
"Yoilng relatives" of the late
Rabbi Menachem Schneer-
son, the Lubavitch chasidic
rebbe whom many followers
claimed was the messiah,
had posed for the magazine.
Esquire reported that
"when members of the com-
munity found out about the
spread, they threatened to
picket Penthouse's offices and

I

1 .)

HAMILTON
MILLER
HUDSON
& FAYNE

ish relations has been a slippage
in Israeli-oriented fund-raising.
Contributions to the United Jew-
ish Appeal, for instance, in 1993
totaled $782 million — down 25
percent from its 1990 high. Of
that amount, only 40 percent was
sent to Israel, down from 50 per-
cent during the mid-1980s.
Even more alarming for the fu-
ture is Ms. Marcus' conclusion
that "the youngest generation of
Jews seems to share a particular
malaise toward Israel. Only
5,000 American Jewish teen-
agers visited Israel last year,
down from 12,000 annually be-
fore the start of the Palestinian
intifada in 1987."
This disengagement from Is-
rael extends into college campus-
es. The Journal reported that
when Rabbi Alan Letofsky, exec-
utive director of the Cleveland Hil-
lel Foundation based at Case
Western Reserve University, first
began working with college stu-
dents in 1972, "they were pas-
sionate about Israel. The
massacre of Israeli athletes at the
Munich Olympics that year, and
the Arab-Israeli war the follow-
ing year, brought waves of stu-
dents to Hillel eager to organize
rallies and raise money for Israel.
Now he tries to entice students by
sponsoring an evening watching
the television sitcom Seinfeld.'
"I used to be able to guarantee
that 40 students at least would
show up if I brought an Israeli
speaker, no matter who it was," the
rabbi told the Journal. "If I have
an Israeli speaker today, I can't
guarantee anyone will show up."

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Rabbi Schneerson: Pictures were shelved.

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