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March 14, 2003 - Image 83

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-03-14

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Kellerman explained. "My father was
a rabbi substitute, who made appro-
priate comments, and we spoke on
Jewish issues and affirmed our
Jewish identity. Then we had a party,
like at any other bar mitzvah.
"Throughout the year, we celebrat-
ed holidays in a secular tradition:
Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur,
Chanukah and Passover. We didn't
say prayers or driven in the usual way,
but we used our own Haggadah, and
when we lit candles, we said prayers
for everyone in the world, and for
world peace," he said.
"On Saturdays, my brothers and I
didn't go to the synagogue. Instead,
we went to the Khayke Klebonsky
Yiddish School and studied Yiddish
and Jewish history."
Each summer, the brothers also
attended Camp Kinderland in New
York state, a camp founded by the
Yiddish communist movement,
because the Kellermans always had a
"left leaning" political philosophy
and Max's grandparents "definitely
were communist leaning," he said.
"The camp organizers had good
intentions," he added, "but they
were completely misguided."
Kellerman looked for other ways
to learn Yiddishkeit, and he often
accompanied his beloved bubbie on
visits to friends, where only Yiddish
was spoken while discussing "the old
He later complemented his
Yiddish studies with a special
Yiddish language program at
Columbia University,
where he received a degree
in history.
The brothers took a sum-
mer Yiddish program at
Oxford University in
England four years ago,
which they regarded as a
"wonderful experience.
They are keeping the
Yiddish momentum going
by attending Yiddish-Vokh,
an annual weeklong
Yiddish retreat
sponsored by

Yugntruf Youth for Yiddish in
Copake, N.Y.
"We spend a week in the moun-
tains perfecting our Yiddish,"
Kellerman enthused. "No one speaks
or even thinks a word of English."
"My brother Sam says that every
Yiddish word we learn is another
blow to Hitler, who almost succeed-
ed in wiping out Yiddish while he
tried to wipe out the Jews," said
Kellerman. "It's important to keep
Yiddish alive. When I have kids
someday, I'm definitely going to
raise them with Yiddish."

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It is sort of incongruous that the
young Kellerman's favorite sport was
boxing, a bit unusual for a Jewish
boy of his generation.
"I was very scrappy as a kid —
always looking to get into fights even
though I was small," he said. "So my
father figured I might as well fight
the legal way, and he took me to a
gym to watch professional boxers.
"But in 1982, a Korean boxer was
killed in the ring during a televised
bout, resulting in a lot of negative
publicity about boxing. That was all
that my mother had to hear. She for-
bade me from participating in the
sport, so I started following boxing
Kellerman's big
break came at age
16 when his
father helped
him launch a
cable TV
show called


Max on Boxing,
where the
teen took
questions from
callers for a
half-hour each


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