And Our Institutions
Mazel Toy, Tom, Julie,
But Is Beluga Kosher?
DAVID GAD HARF SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH NEWS
PHIL JACOBS EDITOR
One of the amaz- a synagogue may not be as strong lenge our basic assumptions? We
ing features of the as their ties to a supermarket.
must first acknowledge that the
This also is a generation that realities are changing, that the
community that I has no collective memory of in- old assumptions must be replaced
discovered upon stitutional anti-Semitism, of the by new ones, and that bold new
my arrival here Holocaust, of the creation of the responses must be crafted to ef-
about seven years State of Israel. Most grew up in fectively deal with these changes.
ago is that every- households where their parents
As a total community, we must
one feels like he told them that there were no bar- adopt an attitude of inclusion, of
knows everyone riers in their way; they could be respect for our many differences.
else; everyone believes he grew anything they wanted, attend any We cannot afford to limit oppor-
up in a common neighborhood in university, live anywhere they tunities for participation and
Detroit, attended the same ele- wanted, join any club.
leadership to those who were born
mentary and high schools, moved
A second factor is that, for a va- in Detroit, who live in the "Jew-
to the same suburbs.
riety of reasons, Jews are dis- ish" area, and who conform to the
This feeling contributes great- persing into the hinterlands at "typical" Jewish family structure.
ly to the cohesion of the Detroit a much higher rate than before.
Every individual Jew, no mat-
Jewish community, so envied by While the 1989 Detroit demo- ter his or her place of birth, place
many other Jewish communities. graphic study showed that 80 per- of residence, level of affluence or
However, if we look beneath cent live in and are bounded by type of family structure, is some-
the surface and project several Huntington Woods and Oak Park one who is too precious to alien-
years into the future, we can see on the southeast and West ate.
a reality that is quite different. Bloomfield on the northwest, a
We must organize ourselves in
a much more decentral-
ized fashion, going to
where the people are.
Even as we hold onto
our conviction about
the inherent and ob-
vious value of Ju-
daism, of synagogue
life and of the Jewish
community, we must
also determine how
best to market these
values to a consumerist
There are several cre-
ative approaches along
these lines, particularly in
the area of adult educa-
tion. The Agency for Jew-
ish Education's Midrasha
program has held sever-
al of its lectures and dis-
cussions at a Borders
bookstore. Other Jewish
And as time goes on, the feeling significant and growing minori- organizations are conducting
of a common local heritage will ty has dispersed to areas previ- weekly Torah sessions in law of-
become much more a myth than ously Judenrein — places like fices and businesses, drawing a
a reality, undermining the insti- Grosse Pointe, Troy, Commerce growing and devoted following.
tutions that have been built upon Township and Novi.
Another promising approach
It is much more difficult to to reaching Jews is through on-
Where is the evidence that con- maintain a sense of cohesion and line computers. While behind oth-
flicts with these assumptions? much more difficult to truly reach er parts of American society, the
First, a generation is emerging in a population that is so spread out. Jewish community is on the verge
the Jewish community that has Witness Los Angeles and New of entering the age of computer
no shared recollection of the Dex- York City, large metropolitan ar- interaction. When this comes to
ter/Davison area, of northwest eas with very dispersed Jewish fruition in the next several years,
Detroit or even of Oak Park. I re- populations and, by no coinci- it will revolutionize our Jewish
fer to those now in their 20s and dence, among the lowest syna- community in ways that we can-
30s whose memories are of a sub- gogue affiliation rates in the not fully imagine today. Geo-
graphic dispersion will be a less
While a large proportion may
A third factor is that our Jew- important factor when Jews can
live in Farmington Hills or West ish community is increasingly access information, participate in
Bloomfield, they lack the same populated by those who do not fit decision making and interact
historical connection to one an- the traditional mold, the mold with other Jews via computer.
other and to a particular syna- upon which our institutions and
We have a wonderful Jewish
gogue that was typical of their policies have been based — the community. One of the main rea-
nuclear family. As the 21st cen- sons for its success is that our in-
They are more likely to go "syn- tury approaches, the Jewish com- stitutions have not shied away
agogue hopping," acting like con- munity must awaken to the from challenges. We have faced
sumers, as they would in selecting reality of single Jews, of childless the future with a sense of confi-
a dry cleaner or supermarket.
couples, of families headed by a dence and optimism.
In fact, their commitment to single parent, of gay Jews, and of
Let us continue in that vein, so
a rapidly growing elderly popu- that the Jewish community of De-
David Gad Hart is executive
troit can continue to live up to its
director of the Jewish
So what must be done to re- well-deserved reputation.
Co✓ muqity Council of
spond to these trends that chal-
For a split second
in time, the glitz,
pomp and cere-
mony that was
wedding came to
through the doors
at the Ritz-Carlton, a presence
arrived (in lieu of a present).
There he was, his streimel a bit
moistened from the heat, his
payes dangling from his hairline,
his black floor-length coat pro-
viding a contrast to a white,
A wedding party member,
muscular in build and in black
tux with silk lapels and black
studs on the shirt (you should
have seen what the men were
wearing!) came over to the old
man and said in a trembling
voice, "You must be Rav Feiv-
And, as if the spiritual plug
had been pulled, bringing this
highly anticipated but blessed
strength of character to bring a
positive Jewish message back
to the movies. After all, said the
Feivel, "if he could live through
Roseanne, he was strong
enough for anything."
But seriously. With green
mint frappe L'chayims (as is the
custom of our people) being
shared all over the place, Tom
Arnold, with his best man Chris
Farley, moved from the Feivel's
tish along with the hundred or
so other men, singing "asher
boro soson v'simchoh, choson
v'chaloh (Blessed is He who cre-
ated joy and celebration, bride-
groom and bride)."
Then, Tom would meet his
basherit, Julie Lynne Champ-
nella, for the bedekin (veil-lift-
ing). He would lift her veil
gently, the two still fasting (as
is the custom of our people). In
a quiet moment they would
share smiles, moving only when
the photographer from People
asked them to shift slightly for
a better angle.
On to the chuppah where an
PHOTO BY JEFF KOWALSKY
The choson and chaloh.
event to a temporary halt, the
hundreds massed to hear his
"Yes, I am."
Before you could say
"Schwarzenegger," the Feivel
was whisked away to be by Tom
Arnold's side for a men's only
tish. All of the invited males dis-
carded their habit of being fash-
ionably late to hear the Feivel's
vort (word). Hugh Grant was
a bit late. He was in the park-
Rav Feivel brought down
that there haven't been any
good movies in Hollywood since
The Rocky Horror... What he
meant was there haven't been
any strong biblical movies since
The Ten Commandments. He
paskened (theorized) that
maybe Tom Arnold had the
emotional crowd watched as
Tom's chaloh, Julie, circled him
seven times (three times being
asked for proper I.D. by Tom's
bodyguard). Selected dignitaries
and co-stars were given the hon-
or of saying one of the shevah
brachot (seven blessings). Then,
once complete, Tom stepped on
a $27,000 Lalique glass (in the
custom of our people) to re-
member that while they were
having a wonderful time, there
were still those Jews who were
not invited to this lavish affair.
The centerpiece (as is our cus-
tom) of each table was a setting
of generically packaged caviar,
mineral water and beluga to be
sent to the local food banks.
The dancing was amazing.
The Feivel led the men's side,
WEDDING page 12