You're invited to
"A Sligilhit act it he
Grasping For Survival
In Jewish Communities
JOYCE WOLPERT SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH NEWS
BBYO ADVISOR RECOGNITION
& YOUTH TALENT SHOWCASE
Join Michigan Region BBYO in a night
showcasing AZA & BBG talent and
honoring those volunteers that help
keep our chapters flourishing.
March 3, 1996 - 7:00pm
the passion, the energy, the
strength that has made BBYO the
largest, most successful Jewish
youth4ed organization in the world!
18 exhibits in the JCC's
lobby highlighting BBYO's
Sponsored by B'nai B'rith Michigan Regional Council,
Jewish Women International (formerly B'nai B'rith Women),
M.C. Zeiger Lodge (the BBYO Lodge)
and Michigan Region BBYO Board of Directors
T HE D E TRO T J E WIS H NE WS
Now on Staff.
and Fine Jewelry
Orchard Mall v 6337 Orchard Lake Road
at Maple Road • West Bloomfield, MI 48322
♦ Free Estimates.
♦ 2-Year Warranty on
♦ Complete Repair and
♦ Batteries Re-sealed and
♦ All Major Brands.
♦ Vintage Watch Repair.
Irwagima g r a it h
t takes a whole village to
raise a child." This African
proverb, the title of Hillary
Rodham Clinton's new
book, is almost a cliche these days
in its attempts to raise communi-
ty consciousness to take care of all
"our" children everywhere.
Here in the Jewish communi-
ty, we are fortunate as we read in
these pages each week about com-
munity support and encourage-
ment for young sports stars, for a
special needs girl's bat mitzvah,
for various entrepreneurial pro-
jects and stellar academic achieve-
ments by well-loved and
well-guided young people.
How many of us are aware —
or want to be aware—that in this
city also live children of the same
age (and many even with similar
abilities) who never get the sup-
port, encouragement or guidance
that our children do? rm talking
specifically about black children
in East Baltimore, because that is
who I see daily grasping for sur-
The media would have us be-
lieve these children are violence-
prone and habitually cheat, lie and
steal. They'd also have us believe
they have severe learning dis-
abilities and lower IQs, as marked
by tests. Statistics can be found to
support these claims.
On the other hand, a tragic case
can be made for the sheer human
energy, raw talent, native intel-
ligence and force of personality
that are ruthlessly battered and
sometimes lost completely in the
lives of these children as they
drone through their daily plight.
As Jews, aware of these in-
equities and living in the same city
as these children, what is our
moral and ethical stance toward
them? Of course, many Jews al-
ready are involved with these chil-
dren in the fields of teaching,
counseling, social work and med-
icine. The rest of us have a choice.
Black history month is almost
over. Black-Jewish dialogue in this
city is tenuous. What can we do?
Here are descriptions of three
children's lives, case histories, no
better or worse than many others
like them. Think about these com-
pared to Jewish children you
know, and think about our correct
H., a 17-year-old self-declared
artist, has been drawing since age
5. He goes to an after-school pro-
Joyce Wolpert is - a mental health
therapistfor Johns Hopkins
Hospital and for the East
Baltimore Mental Health
Partnership. She counsels
adolescents at a city high school.
gram to take art lessons, and re-
cently won an award in a state art
contest. His portraits are evoca-
tive, with a depth of pathos.
H. wants to be an architect, the
first person in his family to go to
college. But he lives in a crime-
and drug-infested neighborhood
in a crowded apartment with lit-
tle privacy to do his artwork. His
parents are married but often
fight, and his father moves out to
live with his girlfriend.
H. gets angry, tries to cut him-
self off emotionally from the fam-
ily and becomes depressed. At
these times, he gives up and stops
doing his artwork. In addition to
his school tasks and home chores,
he must combat an intense anger
and depression not of his own
As Jews, what is our
moral and ethical
stance toward these
K., a 15-year-old girl, had av-
erage grades and was involved in
a special program to give students
extra counseling and tutoring to
help them get through high school
and prepare for college. She also
was involved in community and
church activities. She lived in a
shelter with her mother, who had
HIV. K had chronic asthma. She
was responsible, carried her in-
haler and knew to avoid stress.
But one day in the fall while at
home with her mother, K had an
asthma attack. It was strong
enough that nothing worked to
save her life. Fifteen, trying hard
to do the right thing, and snuffed
out by a disease that affects inner-
city children at an alarming rate,
with the airborne toxins that
swarm around them.
A. was 16 when I knew him. He
already had been psychiatrically
hospitalized for suicidal tenden-
cies. He was removed from his
home by Child Protective Services
after fights with his mother.
Society pressures these chil-
dren, like all of us, to become re-
sponsible citizens, and if not, then
various cruel punishments are en-
acted upon them. Yet clearly,
there is much danger inherent in
their growing up, and many basic
developmental needs are not met.
How might they come out at the
other end, intact and productive?
We are Jews. We value our own.
children. Are we also part of the
village for these other ones? 0