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May 30, 2003 - Image 58

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-05-30

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

Jewry's Role in
Human Affairs

PATRONS OF SOCIAL PROGRESS - I
Never in their long history have Jews found more ways to wealth than in
20th Century America. Poor immigrants or their children, assimilated and
sometimes secularized by an accepting society, triumphed in business and
industry from A to Z--from Philip Altheim, steering the country's largest
electric construction company of his day, to the late Morris Zale whose
jewelry sales operations were unsurpassed in scale.
Prosperity inspired in many a strong urge to repay our nation's
generosity in kind. Samuel Newhouse, a newspaper and radio magnate,
gave huge sums to the arts and medicine. Detroit's William Davidson,
president of the world's fourth largest glassmaker, donated millions to
educational programs. Holocaust survivor Kurt Weishaupt, founder of a
leading postage stamp wholesaling firm, was named among the most
charitable citizens in the U.S. by America's Caring Institute. And publisher
Walter Annenberg had been hailed as our country's greatest
philanthropist. Others joined them:

MEYER GUGGENHEIM
(1828-1905) b. Lengnau, Switzerland Fleeing
anti-Semitic oppression in their homeland, father
Simon and son Meyer--then nineteen--hawked
shoelaces and needles on the streets of
Philadelphia and took to the road as peddlers in
Pennsylvania's anthracite mining district. It was
a lowly beginning for a family which would
eventually produce one-half of the world's copper.
On a slow route to great wealth, the Guggenheims also manufactured and
sold lye and stove polish to local farmers and imported lace-embroidery
from their native country. Their destiny changed dramatically when profits
from an 1890 investment in a Colorado silver mine seeded a smelting and
refining empire in copper, silver, tin, zinc, lead, nitrates and other metals
and minerals. Meyer neared sixty when outstanding success came.
Assisted by his seven sons, Meyer may have amassed, in its time
and at its peak, the second largest family fortune in America, exceeded
only by that of the Rockefellers. It was then that his children, acting in his
spirit, began giving sizeable portions of their personal wealth to public
foundations and worthy causes. Among the most visible civic gestures was
Solomon's founding of the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, a
pantheon of abstract art. Simon, who also served as a U.S. senator from
Colorado, established a memorial foundation to assist writers, scientists
and artists. Daughter Peggy was a noted art patron, and Daniel spent
millions to promote aeronautics.

JULIUS ROSENWALD
(1862-1932) b. Springfield, IL Following a
modest success in the New York City and Chicago
clothing business, the son of German Jewish
immigrants bought a one-quarter share in the
newly formed Sears, Roebuck and Company
department store which he joined. And as the
driving force behind the emerging world's largest
mail order house and store chain, he turned the
original investment of $37,000 into assets worth about $150 million.
Assuming its presidency in 1920, Rosenwald introduced policies and
practices--some firsts of their kind--that established the Sears reputation for
product quality, and customer and employee satisfaction. Under his
leadership, the company introduced the famous "money back if not
satisfied" guarantee, began manufacturing products carrying the Sears label
and launched a then unique profit sharing program. At its business height,
the firm issued as many as 40-million mail order catalogs a year.
Of the estimated $70 million he gave away, partly through the
Julius Rosenwald Fund, the businessman-philanthropist helped cover
building costs for more than 5,000 schools for black children in the
southeast. Also in the public interest, he donated many millions to
YMCAs, the University of Chicago, dental infirmaries in public schools
and towards establishing Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry.

5/30
2003

58

- Saul Stadlnumer
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

Torah Portion

Obeying God's Laws
Perpetuates Our People

part in the rebellion led by Korach
against the authority of Moshe
(Numbers 16:1). The great Torah com-
mentator Rashi (1040-1105) paraphras-
es the Midrash Tanchuma (Korach 4)
and indicates that Korach, from the
his week we begin reading
Levitical family of Kehas, lived in the
Bemidbar, Numbers in
south camp (Numbers 3:29), as did
English. It has this name
Reuben, and thus: "Woe to the wicked,
ostensibly because it begins
Woe
to his neighbor."
with a commandment to count the
Korach
influenced his neighbor and
males of the tribes of Israel.
involved
that tribe in the rebel-
In fact, the book contains
lion.
two countings, one here in the
The Prince of Shimon,
portion of Bemidbar and
Zimri (Numbers 25: 14), was
another in the portion of
involved sexually with the
Pinchas (Numbers 26:2-51),
Midianite women and probably
some eight portions later.
with
their idolatry of Baal Peor.
In the intervening portions,
And
perhaps
this leader reflect-
we are told the events of the 39
ed
the
behavior
of his entire
years the Jewish people traveled
tribe.
through the wilderness after
The Torah may be hinting
leaving Mt. Sinai.
RABBI
ELIEZ-
to
the
general lack of commit-
The reason God insists that
ment,
discipline
and observance
ER
COHEN
the tribes be counted at the
of
these
people
and
perhaps
Special
to
the
outset is not clear. Each male
their
entire
tribes.
Thus,
the
Jewish
News
above 20 has already been
southern
part
of
the
camp
counted by way of the collec-
became the breeding ground for
tion of the half-shekel of silver for the
construction of the Tabernacle in Exodus rebellion against Moshe's authority and
against the observance and the morality
30: 11-16. In fact, the number there is
of the Torah and loyalty to the nation
identical to our count here: 603,550
and
to the family.
(Exodus 38:26; Numbers 1:46) (although
This
is perhaps the reason why the
there it seems the tribe of Levi was
numbers
of these particular tribes
included, which is not the case here).
decreased so dramatically.
I would like to suggest that this
Certainly, throughout Jewish history,
count is being taken to contrast with the
it
is
those whose religious observance
count 39 years later in Pinchas. These
and
identification
with the Jewish peo-
two counts can then give us a picture of
ple
are
not
priorities
who have been lost
the relative increase or decrease of the
to
the
Jewish
people.
population of the nation and of each
As the Torah itself says (Deuteronomy
tribe during the sojourn in the wilder-
4:3-4) in Moshe's exhortation to his own
ness.
generation: "Your eyes have seen ... that
This 40-year saga can be seen as a
every man who went after Baal Peor the
metaphor for the history of Jewish exile
Lord God destroyed from your midst.
and lessons can be learned for future
And
you who remained attached to the
generations.
Lord,
your God, are all alive today." ❑
The population of the entire nation
remained relatively stable and most of
the tribes had a relatively small increase
or decrease in number. The most
notable exception is the tribe of Shimon,
How can we be influenced (both
N
which lost almost two-thirds of its pop-
for good and for bad) by our
ulation over the 39 years (from 59,300
friends and neighbors? Why should
(Numbers 1:23) to 22,200 (Numbers 26:
we be interested in preserving the
14).
Jewish people and its traditions? If
Likewise, both other tribes that were
Judaism and the Jewish people are
assigned to the southern side of the
not important to people, how can
camp together with Shimon, Reuben
they expect their children to remain
and Gad (Numbers 2:10-16) also lost in
committed to the Jewish people?
population. The obvious question is:
How do Jewish education and the
Why?
observance of Torah help ensure
Members of the tribe of Reuben took
future generations of Jews? E

Shabbat Bemidbar:
Numbers 1:1-4:20; I
Samuel 20:18-42.

T

Conversations

Eliezer Cohen is rabbi of Congregation

Or Chadash.

NV‘ V, I\V.

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