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December 15, 1995 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1995-12-15

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A Leader Comes To Beth El

For so many months as Temple Beth El was go-
ing through its struggles, readers and commu-
nity members asked why the temple's decision
to place its rabbi on sabbatical as well as con-
gregational divisiveness were such newsworthy
Temple Beth El is an anchor tO Detroit Jewry
and is well-known and respected .throughout the
nation. So when this synagogue was experienc-
ing membership decline and financial difficul-
ties, we can be sure that the rest of the nation's
Reform community was paying close watch.
There is a saying, though, that if we place a
piece of coal under intense pressure, it becomes
a diamond. For 10 months, a search committee
worked, as if the very life of the temple depend-
ed on it, to find a new spiritual leader.

The results of this search are monumental
with the announced hiring of Rabbi Daniel B.
Rabbi Syme, whose dad M. Robert Syme for
so long has helped lead our community as a voice
of spirituality and reason from his Temple Israel
pulpit, is a national leader in the Reform move-
ment. His work in the areas of Jewish education
and his specialization in the area of suicide pre-
vention are well-known.
Temple Beth El, even through its woes, has
and will be a "major- league" religious institu-
tion. In Rabbi Syme, it has a leader who not only
can be a dynamic example for his temple but help
lead Detroit's Reform Jewish community toward
continuity and unity in the 21st century.

Children Are Our Shining Lights

On the cover of this week's Jewish News and on
several of our inside pages are the wondrous works
of our youth and their impressions of Chanukah.
We received about 500 entries, everything from
elaborate paper cuts to computer designs to good
old-fashioned crayon on construction paper. We
thank you all. Every entry was wonderful. Every
single child who took the time to fashion a poster,
no matter how complicated, no matter how sim-
ple, did a great job.

As our families get ready to light the first of
the lights on Sunday night, we want you to know
that you, our community children, are our shin-
ing lights.
We are proud of your response to the
Chanukah art contest, but we are more im-
pressed and excited by your ideas on paper and
your commitment to continue our beautiful tra-

Peres' Peace Train

In the wake of Shimon Peres' three-day visit to
the United States this week, Israel's senior states-
man is being examined anew.
For the past 3 1/2 years, Mr.. Peres' light was
shadowed by the overwhelming and steady pres-
ence of Yitzhak Rabin. But now Mr. Peres, in
public service since the founding of the state, is
driving the peace train without Mr. Rabin to slow
him at the junctions.
As such, some political observers note that he
has been lighter on the pedal, subtly shifting his
aggressive left-leaning political moves back to-
ward the more cautious center. True to form, he
is doing so more in style than substance: that is,
not changing his stated goals of implementing a
peace with the Palestinians while trying to forge
one with Syria.
There are reasons for excitement, and others
for concern. During Mr. Rabin's tenure, Mr.
Peres, a master politician by any standard, made
himself more than No. 2. Virtually singlehand-
edly, backed by a cadre of Labor loyalists, he
pushed the Rabin camp down the rolling tracks
toward peace. Only in the past year, after warm-
ly gripping the hand of Jordan's King Hussein
and grudgingly developing a relationship with
the Palestinian Liberation Organization's Yas-
sir Arafat, did one sense Mr. Rabin's ultimate
faith in the peace train's destination.
For Mr. Peres, an advocate of direct talks with
the PLO for more than a decade, there was no

doubt. As such, his unwavering beliefs over the
course of time are being recognized. No doubt
helping this is his standing as an international
statesman, sealed in late 1993 with the award-
ing of a Nobel Peace Prize to him, Mr. Rabin and
Mr. Arafat.
On the downside, one wonders if Mr. Peres'
political maneuvering will backfire and derail
his peace train. On the one hand, he is courting
the National Religious Party, a modern Ortho-
dox group. In exchange for its support, he is con-
sidering not signing and implementing new peace
accords until after the 1996 elections. At the same
time, he is telling U.S. officials that he is com-
mitted to reaching an accord with Syria as quick-
ly as possible. These goals are contradictory. Also,
Mr. Peres is hinting to right-wing religious par-
ties that, in exchange for their support, he will
stall legislation to recognize Reform and Con-
servative Judaism. This would strain relations
with the Jewish leadership in the Diaspora.
Mr. Peres is the most wily of Israel's politi-
cians. Not only does he pursue all possible op-
tions, but he keeps a hand on the throttle when
not driving the train. Whether more passengers
want to travel with him will not be known un-
til the October elections next year. Until then,
we hope he stays the precarious course of reach-
ing out to others while chugging forward with
his long-stated agenda.


At Cover

Nothing To Fear
From Religious Right

During the past month, I was
pleased to read the articles in The
Jewish News which spoke about
Shabbat as a vehicle toward Jew-
ish unity in our community. The
articles portrayed diverse prac-
tices and lauded the active in-
volvement of various Jews in
their special celebrations.
I saw The Jewish News as
playing an important role in pre-
senting positive models of diverse
Jewish practices to our commu-
Therefore, I was dismayed to
see the front cover of the Dec. 8
edition being about the Church
of Scientology. I was shocked
when I read the article. It por-
trayed, in a very positive manner,
a Jew who had converted to an-
other religion. It went on to ex-
plain in detail the elements of
that religion.
I found myself checking to be
sure I was reading The Jewish
News and not the newspaper of
the Church of Scientology. Then
I became angry that this article
was published in our Jewish com-
munity newspaper.
I do not believe in sticking my
head in the sand and ignoring the
issue, but I do not believe that
The Jewish News should be a pro-
paganda sheet for conversion. An
even-handed article about con-
version may not have been to my
liking, but it could serve some
purpose by presenting both pos-
itive and negative issues. But in
this article, not only were we pre-
sented with a "positive role mod-
el," but we were given a textbook
explanation of all the positive el-
ements of that religion.
I feel that a newspaper has a
responsibility to its readers. Jew-
ish issues of all sorts can and
should be written about in a Jew-
ish newspaper. We need The Jew-
ish News to discuss important
issues in our community.
I feel that this newspaper owes
its readers an apology. But even
more than this apology, it owes
us a newspaper that is informa-
tive about Jewish issues, and it
owes us a commitment toward
the strengthening of our corn-
m un ity.
Barbara Pollak Cook
Farmington Hills

As a former card carrying mem-
ber of Phyllis Schafly's Eagle Fo-
rum and the Moral Majority, I
can only agree with Elizabeth Ap-
plebaum's Editor's Notebook
("Nothing To Fear Except Our-
selves," Oct. 27). I was a Christ-
ian married to a non-observant
Jew when I became active with
the Moral Majority through my
position as president of the Livo-
nia Republican Women's Club.
It was during this period that the
"religious right" helped us become
aware of the proliferation of the phi-
losophy of secular humanism in our
society and encouraged my hus-
band and I to learn more about our
own moral values. The result of this
search was my conversion to Ju-
daism and the return of my hus-
band to strict observance.
Our biggest supporters of our
increase in observance of Ju-
daism were our Christian friends
and neighbors. Because of their
encouragement, we are now firm-
ly established in the Oak Park
Orthodox community. We have
continued a warm friendship
with our Christian "right-
wingers," and they couldn't be
more proud of their role in our
spiritual growth.
In my opinion, the only thing
a Jew may have to fear from the
"Christian right" is that he might
discover a belief in God and the
Torah and the path to a new and
brighter future filled with mitz-
Peggy Letvin
Oak Park

Cover Story

Your cover page of last Friday,
Dec. 8, was, in my opinion, very
controversial and anti-Jewish. It
was more pro-Scientology. You
appeared to be promoting Jewish
people to investigate the Scien-
tology faith.
Wouldn't it be wiser for The
Jewish News to direct Jewish

people toward the Jewish faith,
instead of away from it? After
reading the above issue, I was
tempted and still am to cancel my
subscription to your paper.
Paul L Sherizen

LETTERS page 12

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