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November 03, 1995 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1995-11-03

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Finding A Lasting Unity
In Observance Of The Sabbath

In this Jewish News we take a look at how our
neighbors, our friends observe the Sabbath.
For some, sundown Friday marks a complete
sealing off from the day-to-day into the realm of
the spiritual. Others observe in varying degrees,
sometimes by lighting candles and having the
family home for a meal.
Whatever the method of observance, the Sab-
bath brings us together as an extended family.
It's with this in mind that we bring to your at-
tention that next Friday evening, Nov. 10, Par-
shat Vayera, is the Detroit area's Jewish Unity
Shabbat. Sponsored by the Jewish Community
Council and The Jewish News, Jews are being
asked to light an extra candle to remember that
despite the many differences between denomi-
nations and people within our faith, we are still
all Jews, and there is a unity to be celebrated.
How fitting that in Vayera it is written, "Abra-

ham will surely become a great and mighty na-
tion and all the nations of the earth will be
blessed through him."
We ask our rabbinate to take a moment from
the bimah to spend a moment emphasizing our
peoples' unity. It's very easy to talk of what di-
vides us. This should be a Shabbat that looks
elsewhere for its theme, to subjects that bind us
as a people.
The truth is, all Jews have a codebook to guide
them through life. That manual, the Torah,
should also be a source of unity, a togetherness
that we should be blessed to carry in our hearts
and homes on Unity Shabbat and every other
Shabbat. When Hashem gave us the Sabbath, it
was a special present for our people. It wasn't for
only one Sabbath sponsored by a couple of orga-
nizations. The Sabbath should be an inspiration
for our unity in every week and in every age.

Dark Horizon Looms
For Nations Of The World

World and Middle East leaders convened in Jor-
dan this week for an economic summit spurred
by the Arab-Israeli peace agreements. There were
many handshakes and pledges of future cooper-
ation. The atmosphere was a warm one as nation
after nation acknowledged that future wars would
be fought in the business field, not the battlefields,
and that the conflicts would be over who would
first purchase state-of-the-art computers, not who
can build the most destructive missiles system.
But beyond the visible horizon lies a cold, fright-
ening specter of nuclear dimension that needs im-
mediate attention — Iran. That country, which
boycotted the meeting in Jordan, is one of the Mid-
dle East's largest_most radical and well-armed
nations. It is an immediate threat to the short and
long-term prospects of peace, let alone U.S. citir-
zens and policies around the world. In the focus
on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, fear of Iran's
growing power does not receive much attention
these days. That is shortsighted at best.
The Iranian revolution is now in its 16th year,
giving the former empire of the shah a young gen-
eration bred to defeat the "infidels" in the West
and their lackeys — particularly Israel, but now
also Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Libera-
tion Organization.
The Iranian threat cannot be underestimated.
There are recent reports that Iran is circulating

counterfeit U.S. dollars in Europe. In today's glob-
al and interdependent marketplace, that move,
which seeks to undermine the stability of the U.S.
government, is an act of war.
In other operations, Iran is less subtle. It is fund-
ing and directing terrorist operations in southern
Lebanon aimed at Israeli troops and their South
Lebanese Army allies. Syria could possibly limit
those terror operations, but the hearts and minds
of its perpetrators are trained and funded by
Elsewhere, Iranian agents are believed to be
helping Islamic fundamentalists trying to over-
throw secular, pro-Western governments in Al-
geria and Egypt. Finally, there are occasional
reports of Iran trying to buy nuclear reactors from
Russia or China.
Israeli military experts know that the only rule
of conflict with Iran is that its government knows
no boundaries in conflict. One need only remem-
ber how hundreds of thousands of poorly armed
boys and soldiers were hurled at Iraqi lines dur-
ing the bloody conflict between the two neighbors
in the 1980s.
The next step in cooperation among the re-
sponsible governments of the Middle East should
be a conference on regional security. The discus-
sion needs to be held at the highest levels and as
quickly as possible.


In the Oct. 13 Editor's Notebook, "A Clearinghouse Idea For High Holiday Seats," a photo of the Beth
Abraham Hillel Moses sanctuary was used in a story about a Jewish person who was shut out of
High Holiday services because she could not afford the ticket prices of her synagogue of choice. Beth
Abraham Hillel Moses was not the synagogue involved. Indeed, Beth Abraham Hillel Moses reserves
extra seats for those unable to afford High Holiday ticket costs.


To 'Paper Chain'

I take strong objection to and am
deeply offended by the article
"The Paper Chain" of Oct. 27. The
article is replete with errors that
can only widen the divide that al-
ready exists between Orthodox
Jewry and other members of the
Jewish faith.
The writer states, "But Mr.
Abraham has his backers — most
prominent among them Rabbi
Silberberg, who takes a tradi-
tional approach to marital mat-
ters" and "there matters rest,
with Mr. Abraham relying on the
sympathies of Rabbi Silberberg
and others, and Mrs. Abraham
unable to remarry in the Ortho-
dox community."
The writer further alleges that
the rabbis declined to convene a
bet din which would pressure Mr.
Abraham into giving his wife a
And now for the facts:
According to Halachah, a get
cannot be given unless the hus-
band agrees to give it and the
wife agrees to accept it. As Or-
thodox rabbis who respect Ha-
lachah, our ability to have a get
granted is limited to our powers
of persuasion.
In this particular situation,
Mrs. Abraham came to the Vaad
asking us to execute the get. Mr.
Abraham refused to give the get
because he claimed that his wife
had stolen a great deal of jewel-
ry from him. At no time did I or
any member of the Vaad back
Mr. Abraham's claim, since he
could not produce any proof of his
wife's alleged theft. Contrary to
the writer's assertion, a bet din
was convened and pressure was
applied to Mr. Abraham that he
give his wife a get.
The only concession we could
gain from Mr. Abraham was that
he would give the get if Mrs.
Abraham passed a polygraph test
that she had not stolen anything
from him. Mrs. Abraham took the
test and failed. Mr. Abraham re-
iterated his refusal to give the get,
and the rabbis of the bet din (of
which I was a member) felt that
we had lost any power of persua-
sion over Mr. Abraham. This does
not mean that other rabbis or
communal leaders cannot or
should not apply pressure or use
any means at their disposal to ob-

tain a get for Mrs. Abraham.
For the writer to state that I
personally back Mr. Abraham or
that I am a "sympathizer" of his
is outrageous. Apart from apply-
ing financial pressure, I also told
him that he is not welcome in my
Generally, when one spouse re-
fuses to cooperate, the best way
to secure a get is by applying corn-
munitS7pressure. To the best of
my knowledge, he is not a mem-
ber of any synagogue, and this
limits our influence upon him.
The writer inserts in the arti-
cle a statement which is irrele-
vant to the issue but nasty in its
insinuation. He states, "He (Rab-
bi Silberberg) for instance, at-
tributes the rising divorce rate in
the Orthodox community in large
part to the changing roles of
women. 'The more women be-
come part of the workforce,' he
said, 'the more independent they
In the article's context, the
statement implies that I have a
negative view of women's inde-
pendence. This is not true. My
comment was a simple analysis
of a social phenomenon. In pre-
vious generations many women
were trapped in bad marriages
because of their economic depen-
dence on their husbands. Today,
economically independent women
are more able to end bad mar-
riages through divorce. I never
suggested that this is bad or un-

Rabbi Elimelech Silberberg

West Bloomfield

As People

Last year, a religious-school class
at Adat Shalom Synagogue re-
quested my presence for what
they called an "interview." I re-
ally wasn't sure what to expect
so I set aside the hour and came
that afternoon with great curios-
ity. With each question, the chil-
dren increasingly revealed that
they had little knowledge of most
of my job. They knew that I
chanted the ancient texts and in-
terpreted the liturgy, but that is
all they understood.
It was surprising to most that
I spent time in hospitals, homes
for the elderly. and sometimes
CANTORS page 12

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