David Bittkers Legacy
act on your shortcomings.
mbraced by acceptance, success and comfort, too
Kaplan also talked abotit the Jewish moral and pragmatic
many Jews in America have become apathetic to who
to reach out to less-fortunate
we are as part of a people. So said.Joel Kaplan, presi-
dent of B'nai B'rith International.
There's reason to be concerned. •
"Your grandparents would have considered it meeting their
obligations if they fed, clothed, sheltered and educated their
others and say, `Come stand with us.' And
children:' Kaplan said. "Today, that's not
will do that only if we stand with
They will do that only if they
Now, he said, expectations are higher:
here to help other people —
ethnic cuisines, trendy fashions, vacation
but all people'
homes and study abroad. "We really have
nice but abstract. Still, it
become very proud of what we've been
told how B'nai
able to accomplish:' he said.
B'rith has sent $40 million over five years
. "But;' he added, "we've forgotten
to Latin America to pay for foOd, medicine, schoolbooks and
something along the way: to teach our
other necessities to stave off the ravages of a depressed econ-
Robert A. Sklar children their Jewish heritage and the
importance of Jewish continuity'
David Bittker, a B'nai B'rith icon who died in 2005, would
Have our efforts been that bad?
been proud to hear such an honest B'nai B'rith appraisal'
Kaplan flew in from New York to keynote the international
Jewish life. He savored the loving family relation-
charter presentation for the B'nai B'rith Great Lakes Region's
B'rith and its "children" – the Anti-Defamation
new David L. Bittker Unit for young, married couples. He
League, B'nai B'rith Youth
painted a dire-looking scene: More than 60 per-
Organization, and Hillel: The
cent of American Jews don't identify with their
Foundation for Jewish Campus
ethnicity or religion. On the world front, it's
Life. He was a beloved mentor
. a knack for inspiring and
"The world will number 3 billion people by
He knew that the
year end:' Kaplan said. "But there are 13 million
Jews, the same amount that we had in 1990. In
2010, there will be approximately 13 million Jews,
people in our heritage and
as the rest of the world grows larger.
ideals today. .
"This bodes ill for us."
Take it from Bittker Unit
It sure does.
President Steve Rotenberg:
Yet we sel-
"Well, David, you were right,
"I will continue
and I did what you suggested:
our shrinkag e
`One person can truly make a
in contrast to to take the
difference: I will continue to
the growth in
the initiative and make a
like Rotenberg's foundation-building goals for
make a difference wit hin the I Bittker
Unit: to make it a B'nai B'rith model, to
and other -
membership, to support dipster relief,
Jewish commu- our community.'
to the community.
nal groups try
as a crucible for developing
hard to counter
- Steve Rotenberg, Bittker Unit president
fulfilling David fttker's most
the soul . of the
task w4insur 7
see twenty- and
deeply into the American way of life. A hundred years'.:•ago;feW
Jews lived the American dream. But succeeding genetAtions
began to taste America's-sweet fruits often at the expense of
What can we do to reach alienated
The most powerful moment in Kaplan's Jan. 14 message at
young people at the edges of the Jewish
the Franklin home of Sandy,and Alan Bittker came when he
urged advocating for Jewish seniors who are frail, lonely or
needy. "We live in a very different world:' Kaplan said. "Today,
Why have the lures of secular living so
it is not unusual for elderly people to live alone. Too many of
diminished interest in keeping Jewish
us, whether we want to acknowledge it or not, are not in touch
with our elderly parents at all."
Consider it a mitzvah to take stock of your connections to
E-mail letters to:
your parents, grandparents and great-grandparents — and
OF THE SEASON
EUROPEAN .& AMERICAN
ACCESSORIES & SHOES
271 WEST MAPLE
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January 26 • 2006