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November 30, 2006 - Image 31

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2006-11-30

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Dry Bones

Editorials are posted and archived on JNonline.us .



The December Dilemma


iven the urgent tenor
of our times, we can't
get too worked up over
creches on public land as a viola-
tion of church-state separation.
But nonpublic grounds do seem
a more suitable spot for displays
that depict Jesus' birth. •
The American Civil Liberties
Union recently took Berkley to
task over its longstanding creche
outside the city hall. Rather that
fight the ACLU, the city council
chose to call for giving the plas-
tic-figure creche to the Berkley
Clergy Association for display
on church property. The creche
had taken its familiar spot on
Coolidge for 20 years until the
ACLU decided to get involved.
Berkley residents are divided
over the forced move. Some
oppose the move while others
support the new home grounds
for the creche. Still others are
rankled that the ACLU disrupted
their small downtown commu-
The Detroit Jewish commu-
nity certainly has more pressing

issues to contend with than wor-
rying about where creches are
installed. We share the ACLU's
thinking about the constitutional
mandate against government
involvement in religion although
not necessarily its zealousness as
'a sort of creche overseer.
A few thoughts do come to
mind about the creche contro-
We don't think adding a few
holiday symbols like Santa,
reindeer, Frosty the Snowman,
strings of lights, a spinning top,
gift boxes and perhaps some-
thing Kwanzaa related would
have made the creche more pal-
atable. Those symbols may have
secularized the adornment, but
there's nothing secular about a
creche. Such adornment almost
seems out of place by a creche
anyway; the nativity scene is at
the core of the religious aspect of
We encourage ethnically rich
secular holiday displays in public
parks — something Birmingham
fostered a few years back. Such

displays certainly should high-
light diversity, not exclusion,
when it comes to the makeup of
the general community.
Removing creches from public
property in a larger commu-
nity with lots of non-Christians
seems the wisest way to forego a
church-state conflict. This prac-
tice also allows us to stay focused
on more compelling concerns
like interfaith relationship build-
It's within this spirit of avoid-
ing religious favoritism that we
felt that the city of Southfield
had no choice this holiday sea-
son but to remove a city-owned
menorah from its holiday display.
A chanukiah is a symbol com-
memorating the miracle of light
that followed Judah Maccabee's
military triumph over oppres-
sion when Syrian-Greeks defiled
the Temple in Jerusalem. It's not
a major religious focal point; in
fact, Chanukah is a minor Jewish
holiday. Still, a city shouldn't
own a menorah any more than it
should own a creche.


0 1



/14 4ja



Chanukah 5767 begins at sun-
down Dec. 15. This ancient holi-
day marks the Jewish struggle for
religious freedom. It is a tribute
to the willpower of practicing
Jews to fend off full assimilation
into the dominant culture. It
celebrates our resolve as a people

to sustain our religious identity
through the generations, no mat-
ter what — including misplaced
religious symbols.

E-mail letters of no more than

150 words to:

letters@thejewishnews.com .

Reality Check

Bo: A Man For All Seasons


aybe you
accompanied his
have to
In an era when we
were all being told
the times. Because
in the early winter of
to do our own thing,
1968, things seemed to
whatever that was
be coming apart.
supposed to mean,
and when anyone
Dr. Martin Luther
King Jr. and Bobby
who advocated a
disciplined life was
Kennedy had been
George Cantor
assassinated that year.
regarded as a fascist,
There were riots in
here was this guy
Chicago during the
who refused to bend.
Who was uncompromising in
Democratic Convention. The
Vietnam protests were deepening his belief that doing things the
in intensity and violence.
tough way was the right way. Who
felt that football was more than a
Ann Arbor was a focus of the
metaphor for life. It was life itself,
anti-war movement and student
reduced to a 100-yard battle zone;
demonstrations were an almost
daily occurrence. There were
and there could be no substitutes
calls to armed revolution by half
for preparation, dedication and,
yes, discipline.
a dozen groups, from the Black
If you did not live through
Panthers to the Weathermen.
those times, you cannot imag-
I use that extended preface as
a way of explaining the impact
ine how ludicrous that message
sounded on a campus that was
that Bo Schembechler had when
he arrived at Michigan — and
halfway to wackyland.
the genuine sense of loss that has
Of course, if Bo also hadn't also

been a fantastic coach, none of
that would have mattered. But he
believed in these qualities and
managed to translate them into
measurable success, and to some
degree the lesson took. Not only
among the players he coached but
among those who were drawn to
the Michigan team.
In 1968, there was nothing
like the autumn celebration
that football in Ann Arbor has
become. Most crowds in the
Big House were around 60,000.
Even the Ohio State game did
not always sell out. In the 17
seasons between 1951 and 1967,
Michigan had a losing record
-seven times and went to the Rose
Bowl only once. The dominant
football school was MSU and
Michigan was yesterday's news,
wrapped up in a ribbon with
Fielding and Fritz. Bo changed all
that emphatically.
When I covered the first press
conference after he was hired, I
never guessed I was looking at

Staff photo by Armando Rios .

an icon-to-be. I had
been assigned by the
Free Press to find out
who the next Michigan
football coach would
be and wrote that Ara
Parseghian was the
man. As it turned out,
he was the one who
Bo and "Baseball Guy" George
recommended Bo. So,
at least I was close.
I interviewed him a few times
better. But just this past August,
after that. He always associated
when I was writing a piece on a
Michigan fantasy football camp
me with being a baseball writer
and each time I entered his office for the November Style maga-
he would growl, "Now why would zine, the photographer took a
picture of the two of us together.
George Cantor want to write
He looked at me in amusement
anything about football?" Then
he'd talk football for as long as I
and I could almost hear him say
to himself, "What's that baseball
wanted to stay.
I wrote some tough things
guy doing here?"
I'm not especially sentimental
about him during the time that
Ernie Harwell was fired and Bo
about these things, but I'm going
was president of the Tigers, and
to save that picture. I guess I just
that annoyed him. But once it was told you why. [I
over, it was over, and I think that
George Cantor's e-mail address is
was a constant in his life.
gcantor614@aol.com .
I wish I could say I knew him

November 30a 2006


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