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is deeply embedded in the style and con-
Congregation [opened in 1939], to
tent of the Arab war against Israel."
which both Mrs. Simkovitz's parents and
Sadly, Arab attitudes toward Israel have
my parents belonged, merged with
not substantially changed in the years since
Congregation Beth Abraham in 1971.
Ambassador Eban spoke those words.
My Jewish identity has been shamed by
This year's service, held Nov. 10, was
Morton A. Klein
the "A Prayer For Hebron" editorial
led by Rabbi Charles Popky. Rabbi Ernst
(Nov. 22, page 31).
J. Conrad, rabbi emeritus of Temple Kol
Zionist Organization of America
I am truly offended that a member of
Ami, who came to this country from
New York City
our community would encourage sup-
Germany prior to the war, was our guest
port for a "status quo" in the West Bank,
speaker, as he has been for many years.
especially in Hebron. The Cave of
We hope to continue with this annual
Machpelah certainly endows Hebron
memorial service for many years to
with Jewish significance, sadly overshad-
owed by its violent modern story. But is
Detroit Jewish Community Council Executive
Machpelah worth dying for? Moreover, is
Director David Gad-Harf is wrong on
it worth killing for?
both counts when he asserts ("A Jewish
In a culture so dependent upon histo-
Perspective," Nov. 8, page 24) that the
ry; I challenge our community to sepa-
recent Republican electoral victory will
rate Machpelah from its historical value
1. not affect the level of congressional
and instead reflect upon the values repre-
support for Israel; and
With the death of Abba Eban ("The
sented by the Patriarchs buried there.
2. will threaten the Jewish communi-
Voice of Abba Eban," Nov. 22, page 31;
Abraham would be nauseated to think
ty's domestic agenda.
"Israel's Mighty, Velvet Voice," Nov. 22,
that enough Jews have died for
First, even the most liberal Democrat
page 125), it is imperative and appropri-
Machpelah to fill the cave a hundred
can no longer 'deny that the strongest
ate to recall a magic moment. -
impetus for support of Israel in the
We waited eagerly to hear the speaker
I am too proud of our Jewish commu-
Congress now comes from the
nity to sit silently while blind and bigot-
Republican Caucus. Thus, increased
ed ideas fill our newspaper. "A Prayer For a magnificent British voice emerged to
Republican representation in Congress is
declare the role of the new State of Israel.
Hebron" expresses fear for potential
Despite the speeches of rabbis, political likely to increase support for Israel.
Muslim efforts to erase our history in
Second, what is the "Jewish domestic
leaders and outstanding Jewish speakers,
Hebron and calls upon Israel's historical
to which Mr. Gad-Harf refers? It
legitimacy to defend our access to it.
cannot be gainsaid that support for Israel
Englishman's eloquence. We listened,
With recent Israel Defense Forces cur-
is an inherently Jewish agenda item for
unbelievably; we didn't know whether to
fews and harsh travel restrictions on
which there is near-unanimous support
laugh or cry as this melodious, smooth
Palestinians, I dare wonder how many
in the Jewish community.
expression of pride in the new Jewish
Muslims we have blocked from worship-
Other domestic policy issues that Mr.
state emerged on the airwaves.
ping at their holy sites (which include
and the liberal left support are
Machpelah, lest we forget).
neither inherently Jewish issues nor are
the many climactic, historical events that
Let us support an Israel that derives its
legitimacy not from ancient history, mili- have occurred in our lifetime; but there is they issues on which there is anything
close to unanimity in the Jewish commu-
no one incident that had the fantastic
tary' strength and post-genocide sympa-
impact of the magical moment when the nity.
thies, but rather through an existence
Mr. Gad-Harf should neither use nor
melodious voice of Abba Eban, with its
based on Jewish notions of peace, cultur-
urge the use of Jewish charitable dollars
perfect British magic tone, declared the
al equality and human understanding. I
to support his or the left's particular
status of the State of Israel.
assure you, this would protect "our past
Ann Barnett agenda. Those dollars should be reserved
and our future" with more vigor than
Southfield for inherently Jewish issues and legiti-
any prayer from Hebron.
mate charity; while on other issues, Jews
Scott M. Gisler
should feel free to work through other
organizations, be they left or right, in
support of their issues and agendas.
The passing of Israeli statesman Abba
Eban ("The Voice Of Abba Eban," Nov.
I wholeheartedly agree with letter writer
22, page 31; "Israel's Mighty, Velvet
Elsie Simkovitz ("We Must Remember
Voice," Nov. 22, page 125) and our
Fateful Kristallnacht," Nov. 15, page 10)
community's reflections on Ambassador
on the importance of keeping alive the
Eban's contributions to the security of
memory of Kristallnacht — Nov. 9,
Your coverage and editorial thoughts on
Israel and the Jewish people make it fit-
1938, the beginning of the Shoah — as
the book One People, Two Worlds. by
ting to recall the powerful and eloquent
part of our collective Jewish memory.
Reform Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch and
words he spoke at the 27th World
Accordingly, Congregation Beth Ahm
Orthodox Rabbi Yosef Reinman
Zionist Congress, on June 15, 1968, in
(formerly Congregation Beth Abraham
("Worlds Apart," Nov. 8, page 22; "A
Hillel Moses) has held a Kristallnacht
Opportunity," Nov. 15, page 29)
"The [Arab] propaganda against Israel
memorial service early in November, ever
refreshingly free of invective
portrays us as a caricature, hook-nosed
since Congregation Beth Hillel, the for-
with tails, horns and monstrous attrib-
mer German-Jewish Gemilus Chasadim
However, I can't share your optimism
utes outside the human context. Nazism
Prayer: Not What
Positive For Israel
about pluralism. Let's put aside the
peripheral controversy the book engen-
dered and talk about fundamental differ-
ences, a term some consider uncouth and
Personal autonomy is an intensely val-
ued commodity in some religious circles.
But it's nothing less than a farce if one
isn't equipped with the information to
make decisions. Intellectual honesty
mandates that if one is going to truly
choose, one must be educated as to the
choices. On one side is a tradition that is
millennia old; on the other are various
movements diluting this tradition with
the cultural mores of the past few cen-
turies, and thus subject to change.
"Freedom of choice" takes an intensive
commitment to lifelong education.
Synagogues and umbrella organizations
must establish serious programming.
Clergy should be available to answer any
and all questions of an educated laity and
provide leadership, exemplifying scholar-
ship, warmth and dignity.
Reform Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch did his
cause no good when he opened his [Nov.
13] talk at the JCC Book Fair [at the
Jewish Community Center in West
Bloomfield] with a silly, distasteful joke
about two Lubavitchers.
Here are some questions: Do you
believe in the historicity of the Bible and
events commemorated in the Jewish cal-
endar? How does this affect your celebra-
tion of these days?
Shivah means seven. A week of
mourning is halachically mandated. Will
I lose out on the emotional and spiritual
benefits of the mourning process if I opt
for the three-day version? What about
other mourning obligations?
Matrilineal descent (and committed,
authentic conversion) has been the tradi-
tional standard, an enduring testimony
to the role of the mother in molding the
holiest of units, the Jewish family. Why
the addition of patrilineal descent?
(Might one argue it's misogynistic?)
One-hundred-fifty years ago,
Progressive European temples held services
on Sundays that were rabidly anti-ritual
and anti-Zionist, having excised all men-
tion of Jerusalem from their prayer books.
Will I recognize the institutions and
prayers and celebrations of my grandchil-
dren? What consistency can you guaran-
And perhaps the ultimate question we
can ask ourselves: How liberating is this
autonomy? Has it provided the freedom
to establish a meaningful, spiritual frame-
work that permeates all aspects of life, or
merely freedom from seemingly anti-
quated, meaningless ritual?