Jewry's Role in
LITERARY ICONS OF THEIR TIMES
The European molders of thought in the late 18th and early 19th centuries
included poets, philosophers and writers who helped set the bedrock of
modern Western culture. Among them was Heinrich Heine whose stature
approached that of Goethe and Schiller, and Solomon Ben Joshua who
adopted the name Maimon in acknowledgement of Moses Maimonides.
Chevrolet sponsors evangelical
concerts to boost sales.
saying, "It's important that we get the
message out there with regards to
Chevrolet and how we're so family ori-
ented and have great values."
Motors, one of America's
His comments were echoed by Tom
largest corporations, has
Wilkinson, director of communica-
crossed the bridge between
tions for the Chevrolet Motor
church and Wall Street with its corpo-
Division, who said in a prepared state-
rate sponsorship of a religious event.
ment, "Chevrolet's title sponsorship of
A flurry of negative reaction to a
the Come Together and Worship Tour
marketing promotion linking a series
... recognizes the growing importance
of Christian evangelical concerts to the of contemporary Christian music to
sale of GM's Chevrolet line has put
millions of Americans, especially in
the automaker's public relations
the southeastern United States. It is a
machine in overtime as it attempts to
logical extension of Chevrolet's spon-
defend the controversial decision.
sorship of other music events and
But the epoch-making promotion
tours featuring rock and roll, jazz,
received a blessing from a local Jewish
country and gospel music."
Chevrolet has been a supporter of
The touring stage show, "Chevrolet
the Stellar Gospel Music Awards for
Presents: Come Together and
more than a dozen years. Wilkinson
Worship," began a series of 16 con-
added, "We are careful in selecting
certs Nov. 1 in Atlanta and culminates events and activities, but we also
at the Palace of Auburn Hills on Nov.
understand that almost any activity
23. The majority of the concerts are
risks offending someone."
being held at large-scale venues in the
Veteran Southfield-based advertis-
ing and marketing guru Fred Yaffe,
The shows are a multimedia worship chairman and CEO of both Yaffe &
service with an evangelical flair and.
Company and the recently formed
feature Michael W. Smith and the
Yaffe Group, sees the Chevrolet spon-
Christian rock band Third Day, as
sorship as a good example of niche
well as preaching by the Rev. Max
Lucado of San Antonio, Texas.
"Chevrolet sells a lot of pick-up
Rev. Lucado, with 25 million books
trucks. It is no different than sponsor-
in print, is an avowed supporter of
ing country-western music events or
Israel. On his Web site he writes,
NASCAR races, which appeal to
"Why are fundamentalist Muslims
much of that same segment of the
mad at America? Simple. We are
population," said Yaffe. 'A lot of
friends with Israel. And as far as I am
Christians buy Chevrolets. A lot of
concerned, that's where I want to be."
dedicated people nationally are
The negative reaction stunned Steve
enthused by this ... and can buy
Betz, the Atlanta-based General
Chevrolets. It is a commercial venture
Motors division marketing manager
just like buying signage at Pine Knob.
for the southeastern United States,
It is all about selling vehicles," said
who began catching flak following a
report on the concerts in the Detroit
Sharona Shapiro, Michigan area
Free Press on Oct. 23.
director of the American Jewish
Although he was asked to refer all
Committee, said, "General Motors is a
inquiries to the automaker's world
very responsible corporation and also
headquarters in Detroit, Betz told the
very responsive. But as we've all seen,
Jewish News, "My decision was based
corporations can move in misguided
on a business decision. We did the
research and it made sense that it was
"Our position at the American
viable for us because of the number of Jewish Committee is that we hope
people in the demographic area." Betz
they will rethink going in that market-
saw the concerts as sending a positive
ing area. There is a blurring of lines
message as well as giving Chevrolet
between selling ideas and selling a
dealers a boost in tough times.
product to promote an idea and a
He earlier defended his decision by
faith," said Shapiro. I I
Special to the Jewish News
(1797-1856) b. Dusseldorf, Prussia "The greatest
task of our times is not merely the emancipation
of Irishmen, Greeks, Frankfurt Jews, West Indian
Negroes...but the emancipation of the whole
world that has now found tongue and breaks the
iron reins of Privilege." These eloquent words
were spoken by one of history's finest and most
prolific German lyric poets, by a socially astute
immortal of classical literature. Although he converted, he also composed
some of the most powerful Jewish verse written in his native language.
A trained lawyer, essayist and literary critic as well, the sensitive
and complex romantic fought, through his words, against the oppressive
values of the 18th century as embodied in his homeland. Heine addressed
the freedom and dignity of man--as idealized by the French revolution. He
resettled in Paris in 1831 where he lived until his death from a long and
painful spinal disease. During these trying years, the stoical humanist
authored political tracts, satires and lyric masterpieces which gained
immense popularity; virtually all of his works were translated into English.
Held in high esteem by contemporary composers, some 3,000 of
Heine's bittersweet lyrics were adapted for songs by Brahms, Schubert,
Schumann and others. Among the best known, "On Wings of Song" and
"Lorelei", endure to this day. But what also endured was the anti-Semitic
hostility of German governments toward his stand against their autocratic
rule. Plans to erect posthumous monuments to him by German citizens and
admirers were crushed. Forced by public pressure - to anthologize his
poetry, the Nazis conceded but marked the source of each as "poet
unknown." It was said that on his deathbed, while dictating lines of a love
poem, the last word Heine uttered was schreiben, to "write:"
(1753-1800) b. Nieswiez, Polish Lithuania One
of the most celebrated German philosophers
flourished at the time a co-religionist, Dr.
Marcus Eliezer Bloch (1723 99), helped
establish the modern science of ichthyology.
11 Solomon Maimon achieved fame in a more
liberated atmosphere that permitted Jews such as
they to escape the ghetto. The child prodigy in
Talmudic studies had been married at age fourteen, became a father within
the year, and was ordained by the rabbinate.
His views often invited controversy--earning the wrath of Hasidim
at proposing a philosophical basis to the Kabbalah. Although he revered
Maimonides, an unconventional commentary on the Guide of the Perplexed
also gained the rancor of its readers. Meagerly supporting his family as a
tutor, Maimon moved to Germany, eking out a living as an itinerant beggar.
His fortunes changed upon meeting and impressing Moses
Mendelssohn with his erudition, and being introduced into the master's
intellectual circle in Berlin. Their relationship dimmed and Maimon
moved on. But by 1789-90, his rank as a leading theorist came suddenly
by way of a skeptical critique of several of Immanuel Kant's key
philosophical principles. Despite disagreements, Kant graciously accepted
the appraisal and named its author his "most perceptive critic," a
compliment that assured his career.
Maimon went on to produce major writings including the
Philosophical Dictionary (1791), On the Progresses of Philosophy (1792)
and Critical Investigations of the Human Spirit (1797). An acclaimed and
widely read autobiography, published in 1793 and translated into English,
is regarded as a lustrous work in Jewish literature. He stood memorably
alongside the handful of free and inquiring minds of his time and place..
• Visit many more notable Jews at our website: www.dorledor.org
COMMISSION FOR THE DISSEMINATION OF JEWISH HISTORY
Walter & Lea Field, Founders/Sponsors
Irwin S. Field, Chairperson
Harriet F. Siden, Chairperson