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The Value Of Learning
ommunication is the heartbeat of a syna-
gogue. Without it, disenchantment lurks
and threatens to disrupt a congregation at
The board of directors at Congregation Shaarey
Zedek, one of Detroit Jewry's most enduring
houses of worship, finds itself embroiled in con-
troversy after making a financial decision to close
its Southfield nursery school, Beth Hayeled, when
this school year ends.
Parents affected by the closing have expressed
outrage toward board members, claiming they
never explained the acuteness of their financial
plight over the past two-and-a-half years until the
decision was made. The result was limit-
ed programming and parents scrambling
to try to get the decision overturned
before time runs out.
Board President James Safran has acknowledged
the synagogue could have done more to attract
new students. He says the board is willing to
reconsider the Beth Hayeled closing as long as the
plan includes tighter finances to control costs.
What's most disconcerting is the planned elimi-
nation of a local Jewish education program popu-
lar among its users. Learning is a pillar of Jewish
identity and continuity. It's one of the most
important programs a synagogue can provide.
Preschool can set the stage for a lifetime of learn-
ing and for deeper family involvement in syna-
Eliminating such a program should be a last
resort in a fiscal crisis.
Shaarey Zedek leaders are grappling with a
$750,000 budget deficit in the wake of a sluggish
economy that has. caused 40 percent of the syna-.
gogue's 2,100 families to seek subsidized dues and
the congregational endowment to no longer pro-
duce 25 percent of the operating revenue.
Notably, the board has expressed a willingness
to meet with parents in an effort to try to keep
Beth Hayeled (House of Children) open. The goal
should be to rebuild the educational service and
market it better while whittling
costs, given the comparatively
"r"). o SE
I NCRED I
It's not clear why such a meeting
couldn't have been arranged before
DE si Gt.) ED
the announced school closing.
Such a meeting would have been
the perfect time to, as parent Dr.
Jeffrey Michaelson put it, "take
the exact steps necessary to make
the program viable." Buoyed by
younger parents eager to keep syn-
agogue learning for their kids at
the forefront, the meeting likely
would have spurred an
equitable solution for
Beth Hayeled's future.
The fact that President
Shafran told the Jewish News the
I tqc RCA 8Le.
synagogue board would meet with
parents is a good sign. Beth
Hayeled might win another
reprieve, allowing families to
return to its nurturing, loving
ways. Candid dialogue at this late
stage can only help.
N s ori„ .
We're inclined to think that, ulti-
.10. 4 0110
mately, everyone's hope is to fill
,t_ - iii 'A. r
Shaarey Zedek's main building
with the richness of youthful voices
and not leave the Southfield cam-
pus sorely under used.
We appreciate the board's
attempt to attack the synagogue's
shortfall in revenue through the newly unveiled
Its Southfield location, between the Jewish pop-
menu of giving opportunities." As an integral
ulation centers of Oak Park and West Bloomfield,
part of the foundation of the Detroit Jewish com-
situates Shaarey Zedek in the heartland of the
munity, however, Shaarey Zedek is compelled to
Detroit Jewish community. It has developed a spe-
consider the greater good in decision making.
cial responsibility to Jews living in Southfield and
For 140 years, Shaarey Zedek has been a name
the north and east.
synonymous with Jewish vitality and leadership in
Clearly, the net effect of Beth Hayeled's closing
metro Detroit. It has attained a pre-eminent status
would be more than a budget cut. ❑
in both local and national circles of the
1 L frii,
An End To Humanity
few hundred miles west of Mombassa,
Kenya, lies Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania,
where those who believe in evolution have
shown that homo erectus, the precursor of
modern man, emerged 1.8 million years
ago. The fossil record shows that these
first humans began migrating northward,
populating east Africa, then the Nile basin
and along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers
and finally the rest of the world. This area of Africa
is where evolutionists believe humanity was born.
Last week, some exceptionally evil people in
Mombassa showed that they would be happy to end
humanity there — and elsewhere. They used sur-
face-to-air missiles in a failed attempt to shoot down
an Israeli-chartered airliner, and they used three sui-
cide bombers to kill 16 people, including three
Israelis and 10 Kenyans, at a resort hotel.
We can only speculate about what was
in the minds of the attackers. It was almost
certainly the same insane rant about the
"evil" of Zionism and Western culture that
has stoked the furnace of terror for at least
two decades, the same twisted logic that took down
the World Trade Center in New York City and that
has killed more than 690 Israelis in the last two
years of the Palestinian intifada (uprising).
But there is something deeper and more evil in
the minds of these latest terrorists. It has become a
passion for death and destruction itself, a nihilism
that rejoices in blood and pain for its own sake. The
militants in Kenya, like those on the 9-11 planes or
the Jerusalem buses or any of the thousands of other
events where terror raised its head, are not servants
of a religious or cultural cause. Instead, they simply
reject what most distinguished homo erectus from its
hominids predecessors: the capacity for abstract
thought that led to culture and morality.
These killers must bear the consequences of their
acts, for they have put themselves outside of the
protections that civilization has embraced for deal-
ing with one another.