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June 02, 1995 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1995-06-02

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Editor's Notebook

Getting Caught Up
With The Wrong Logos

Building Bridges
Of Understanding



Went to a park the
other day and saw
a boy wearing a
baseball cap with
a Pistons logo, a T-
shirt with Michael
Jordan's picture
emblazoned on it,
a pair of gym
.dect, shorts with a
name brand of athletic wear, a
trademark on his socks and
sneakers with a pumping device.
The kid was a walking sport-
ing-goods store.
How many of us have seen our
own children decked out in dif-
ferent logos, caps on backward,
with names of teams, colleges
and various trademarks?


Community Views

What does it all mean? Sad-
ly, it seems as if our children have
so little to believe in within them-
selves that they have to believe
in the image someone else has
created. At times, that image is
best portrayed in their minds by
someone like Shaquille O'Neal or
Dennis Rodman.
Isn't it unfortunate that the
new gods of acceptance of the
1990s are found on the front of
athletic wear? But what's more
telling are the guys your sons and
daughters are calling hero. Ask
yourself: are you that person, are
you that hero? Or is it the guy
with the sweet jump shot, or the
one who makes other players
bleed in a fight at the blue line.
May I suggest that we're let-
ting the guys in the arenas, the
logo gods, take our children in
with them. Our own Jewish com-
munal services are having trou-
ble reaching this segment of our
community, yet the sports mar-
keting people have them at their

What's the difference between
kids today and the time when
sleep was the only way to part us
from our favorite baseball cap?
Plenty. The proliferation of these
products has intensified an al-
ready complex social pressure on
youths, especially teens. In the
inner-city, it can be deadly to
wear a certain logo on a leather
jacket or a popular pair of bas-
ketball shoes.
Suppose we changed the for-
mula a bit. Suppose we changed
the caps we're wearing. What
would we do if the emphasis was
different? What would happen if
we changed the rules, so that the
heroes weren't just blessed with
a good fast ball. Why isn't Abra-

ham, who circumcised himself at
age 99 to fulfill a covenant with
God, a real hero not just to our
children but to us adults as well?
Is Charles Barkley up to that?
What about Sarah? How old
was she when she gave birth to
Isaac, 90? Dennis Rodman can
dye his hair any color he wants,
but he cannot come close to do-
ing that.

Suppose we changed
the formula.

And what about Noah? Amer-
ica's Cup, Dennis Connor, please.
Moses delivered the very laws we
live by. Yet, some of us know
more about the rules on a tennis
court. The Maccabees? They kept
the lamp lit for eight, not the best
of seven. Or how about the Jews
who killed themselves on Masa-
da instead of fall at the hands of
the Romans? Yet we know more
about sudden-death overtime.

In more modern terms, there
are heroes among us who sur-
vived the Holocaust, who served
the United States with dignity in
World War II, Korea and Viet-
Are we suggesting that an en-
tire line of sportswear be created
with the names of the patriarchs
and matriarchs designed as lo-
gos on baseball caps and sweat
pants? Hardly.
It sure would be nice, though,
if a Jewish college student read
with honor his bar mitzvah par-
sha from years earlier.
Let's produce hats with the
names of the Torah portions on
them. Or better yet, logo stores
with the symbol of each tribe on
How about jer-
seys with the
number 7, 18 or
even 613
stamped on
All kidding
aside. At this
point, you know
what I'm get-
ting at. Our
children need to
wear their Jew-
ishness on their
souls. Yet, while
parents spend
hundreds of
their dollars on
more socially
accepted items
such as sports-
wear with team
logos, they place
a great deal less
emphasis on the
official team
trademarks of
If we could get some smart
marketing team together that
would devise colorful, exciting-
looking logos of Jewish history,
historical figures, mitzvahs and
other symbols, maybe our chil-
dren would learn more through
their wearing.
First, though, they need to see
you wearing your Judaism on
your figurative sleeves. They
need to see you becoming a bet-
ter person. They need to see you
investing time in your life in
learning, in interests you share
with them.
The interesting aspect here is
that, unlike wearing a profes-
sional sports logo, when a per-
son's soul is stamped with the
tidemark of our faith he doesn't
have to be a spectator. He can
wear the "uniform" and partici-
One day his children could call
him hero. And his grandchildren,
and generations after.
A basketball team logo will
only turn into trivia. 0

whom I shall call
Becky, is a Jew-
ish woman mar-
ried to my
husband's buddy
from "the old
Becky, whose
parents are
Protestants, keeps a kosher
home, regularly attends services
at a Reform temple where she
is active, and she keeps Shab-
bat with her children and hus-
Several years ago after
Becky's conversion to Judaism,
she was told by a
friend, "Someday your
daughter might meet
a nice Jewish boy who
will not marry her be-
cause she is not Jewish
enough. Astounded,
Becky checked with
her rabbi who told her
that "most" other Jews
would find Becky's
children "acceptable."
Becky, whose con-
version was handled
by the Reform move-
ment, decided to again
study and convert un-
der the supervision of
an Orthodox rabbi.
Becky wanted to en-
sure that her children
would be accepted as
Jews by any Jew.
Becky was one of
many people who at-
tended the community
forum sponsored by
the Jewish Communi-
ty Council two years ago. Rab-
bi Yitz Greenberg had been
invited to address our commu-
nity on the issues of the divi-
sions within Judaism.
Rabbi Greenberg mentioned
that night that the expertise
and success of the Jewish Com-
munity Council is in the field of
community relations. The Jew-
ish Community Council is
known for building bridges be-
tween Jews and Christians,
Jews and African Americans,
Jews and Arab Americans,
Jews and whomever.
"Why not," he suggested,
"build bridges between Jews
and Jews?" That evening, Rab-
bi Greenberg laid down a chal-
lenge. Could the Detroit Jewish
community successfully address
the issues that divide Jew from
Since that forum, Detroit
Jews, under the auspices of the
Unity Committee of the Jewish
Community Council, have been
meeting to discuss Rabbi Green-


Jeannie Weiner is past president

of the Jewish Community
Council of Metro Detroit.

berg's challenge. The commit-
tee consists ofJews who identi-
fy themselves as traditional,
secular, Conservative, Human-
ist, Reconstructionist, Reform
and Orthodox.
During meetings, there have
been moments of anxiety, exas-
peration and sadness. Ulti-
mately, committee members
developed increased sensitivity
and affection toward each oth-
er. Prejudices have been re-
duced and committee members
learned respect for Jews whose
practices of Judaism vary.
The committee has heard
from rabbis and lay leaders






within various "movements"
and now they hope to expand
their experiences to a larger seg-
ment of the community. In the
coming months, metropolitan
Detroit Jews will be asked to
look inward. Someday we will
have to address the very real
problems that face us involving
Jewish marriage and divorce,
patrilineal descent and conver-
While struggling with the fu-
ture ofJewish life in America in
our organizations and institu-
tions, American Jews have been
discussing "Jewish continuity."
We should also be discussing
what kind ofJews we will be.
What kind ofJewish life do we
want to see continued?
The Unity Committee, and
my friend Becky, would respond
that we must begin with respect
for each other as Jews. We must
be Jews who value each other.
We must live a life which re-
flects our Jewish values.
Rabbi Greenberg's challenge
remains. In the coming months,
our community will be hearing
from the Unity Committee. Will
we respond? 0

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