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June 13, 2003 - Image 21

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-06-13

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Editorials are posted and archived on JN Online:

Pictures Of Inspiration

ighteen months ago, Robert Slatkin was
moved by the uncertain fate of the photos
of 260 young Michigan Jews who gave
their lives overseas defending the free-
doms we enjoy in America. He took it upon him-
self to find the photos a permanent home.
More than anyone else in a position of influ-
ence, Slatkin, a United Jewish Foundation of
Metropolitan Detroit (UJF) past president, real-
ized the photos belonged to all of Detroit Jewry.
He realized that even though these. cherished pho-
tos hung in the Memorial Room of the Jewish
War Veterans' Michigan headquarters in
Southfield, the JWV and its Ladies Auxiliary were
merely their custodians.
In 2001, the now-aging veterans who
fulfilled the destiny of our overseas war
dead didn't want their. fallen comrades
forgotten. Encouraged by their Ladies Auxiliary,
they sought a prominent, new home for the pho-
tos they had stood sentry over since 1945.
The 260 clean-cut servicemen, attired in dash-
ing uniforms and dressy suits, could have been the
poster boys of their generation, one that defeated
fascism and communism and built American pros-
How fitting it was that their photos became part
of the enlightening exhibit "We Were There," dedi-
cated this Memorial Day along a well-traveled
corridor of the Jewish Community Center in West
Bloomfield. The exhibit traces Jewish military
heroism, from the Civil War to the Vietnam War. It
reinforces the human toll required to repel bigotry
at home and tyranny abroad. It stands to deepen

the Jewish identity and pride of the teenagers
drawn to it while going to the gym, pool or inline
Professional archivists Heidi Christein and •
James Conway spent a year painstakingly planning
the exhibit. Slatkin, spurred by the zeal of JWV
Michigan Commander Robert Feldman, secured
$100,000 from the UJF, the Jewish Federation's
finance arm, to pay for it.
The exhibit is artifact
rich, but the keystone is
a computer kiosk with
every page of the JWV-
Michigan memory
book; the result
is immediate
access to hun-
dreds of pic-
tures of local Jews who
died in battle from the
beginning of World War
II. More than 500,000
Jews served America in
World War II and
Fifty years, ago, the
JWV was headquartered
in the JCC on Davison
in Detroit. It took some
politicking, but the
WV is back at the
JCC, still Detroit
Jewry's central address.
The coming together

of the UJF, Federation, JCC and Jewish Historical
Society of Michigan to embrace our war vets —
seeking only to give back a precious part of our
history — is, simply put, a mitzvah.
Laudably, Federation is just $6,000 short of
raising enough money to repay the UJF for the
$100,000. As our philanthropic overseer, -it also is
obligated to create an endowment fund to perpet-
ually service the JWV exhibit. 0

Separate Issues

clearer than in the debate over reproductive rights.
No matter where we may stand as individuals on the
questions of women's choice, fetal protection or the
myriad of related ethical issues such as therapeutic
cloning and the use of embryonic tissue, we must
protect the principle that policy may not be decided
by a singular, dominant faith. Religion may inform
public decisions but it may not dictate them.
We should also be speaking out in the national
debate over appropriate levels of govern-
ment spending and over the taxes that
support that spending. Some Jewish
organizations are concerned about coming
cutbacks in social service appropriations -- reduc-
tions that will be increasingly needed as tax cuts
diminish the national government's discretionary
funds. Jews in this country have long been commit-
ted to generous support of health, education and
welfare as well as to promoting equality of opportu-
nity; we need to decide whether to defend or shift
that historic position.
We should be speaking up about the infringement
of civil rights that has accompanied necessary efforts
to prevent domestic terrorism. We ought to be par-
ticularly sensitive to the treatment of immigrants, a

specific target of the Justice Department's efforts. It
is not unpatriotic to point out that a blunderbuss
enforcement of the immigration laws does little to
decrease the danger of attack.
Having paid close attention to how Israel has
been forced to deal with terrorists, we may be in a
position to make effective argument for carefully
targeted investigations — and for a continued open-
ness to immigrants from the former Soviet Union
whose plans are being stalled while the Immigration
Service sorts out its handling of those from Arab
and Muslim countries.
No one wants to bite the hand that feeds us, and
this administration and Congress have been strongly
supportive of Israel in its confrontation with the
Palestinians and the Arab states. We may fear that
opposing some domestic policies could lead to a
retaliatory weakening of that support.
But we need to realize that the policies that aid
Israel are chosen because they serve a national inter-
est and will not be abandoned out of political
pique. That fact should make us and our agencies
even bolder in our willingness to fight for domestic
policies that contribute to a more just, equitable and
ethical society. El



merican Jews and the organizations that
work for them are properly focused on the
unfolding process aimed at bringing peace
between Israel and the Palestinians. If we
were not concerned for Israel, what kind of Jews
would we be?
Yet, the future of the Jewish state is not the only
issue that should be on our minds as we
think about our place in this country's
political life.
For starters, we should be deeply con-
cerned about the increasingly direct ties between
organized religion and government, both at the
national and state levels. Freedom of religion, vitally
important to a minority faith such as Judaism, was a
founding principle of the country. But recent years
have seen an ever-increasing religiosity in political
life. President George W. Bush, a born-again
Christian, pushes constantly for greater use of tax
funds by religious organizations, a trend that is mir-
rored at the state level, notably in support of reli-
gion-based schools.
Nowhere is the influence of organized religion







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