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November 03, 2011 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2011-11-03

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"Banks are getting very wealthy off of
foreclosing on people's homes, even
though they took the $700 billion
[federal government bailout] to do
just the opposite:'
Alex Bensky, 62, of Ferndale holds
an opposing view on the Occupy pro-
tests in New York and around the U.S.
"Despite the presence of many sin-
cere people, Occupy Wall Street was
instigated and is being managed by
hard leftists whose ideas and aims are
not at all democratic:' he said.
"These demands ... are at best
hopelessly naive and at worst down-
right destructive, and their implemen-
tation would substantially exacerbate
an already acute economic situation."

For his part, Wedes will keep work-
ing at his job and participating in the
"There is no end in sight for
#OccupyWallStreet," said Wedes, add-
ing that his sources estimate more
than 900 General Assemblies have
organized nationwide.
"The floodgates have opened and
only time will tell what happens:' he
"As the movement grows, we'll
develop new tools and strategies to
collaborate and connect to build the
kind of world we want to live in." I I

For updated information, visit


the beneficiaries of the men and women who sit at the center of the
Jewish establishment, both professional and lay, and who themselves
led efforts to shake up the status quo four decades ago, with mixed
In 1969, a small group of Jewish undergraduate and graduate stu-
dents, influenced by the campus protests that were sweeping across
the U.S. and Europe, staged a demonstration at the General Assembly
of the national Jewish federation movement in Boston. Under the glare
of the national media, they called for a re-prioritization of communal
goals and challenged their elders to deepen their communal commit-
ment to Torah ideals.
The result was the establishment two years later of The Institute for
Jewish Life. Its creators called for an independent body fueled with
$100 million to spark a renaissance in Jewish life for generations; in
the end it was far from independent, received less than $5 million and
closed its doors four years after it opened.
The victim of unrealistic expectations and turf wars, the Institute
ultimately was a failure. (It is so little known that a Google search
yields not a single reference.) But the goals of the student protesters in
Boston have become so ingrained as communal priorities that we find
it hard to believe today that young people had to take to the streets to
insist on more funding for Jewish education and programs to enhance
Jewish identity, values and connections to Israel.
Those objectives were clear; it's too early to tell if those advocating
Occupy Judaism have a specific agenda. While they acknowledge that
social justice has become a major cause in the community today, they
insist there is too little willingness to call attention to the concentra-
tion of wealth in America. They say the organized community, fearful
of offending major donors, is morally implicated in the cruelty of the
broader economy.
It's a message that may be hard to hear but worth considering. So
too, those calling for dramatic change would be most productive if they
channel their efforts toward building community rather than tearing
down those in authority.
Humility, and a sense of history, even recent history, should be a
requirement for those activists calling for more do-it-yourself Judaism.
Let them remember they are challenging an organized community,
some of whose leaders were branded "young radicals" four decades
ago. And they should be aware that the bible of do-it-yourself Judaism,
The Jewish Catalog, a major bestseller in the early 1970s that spawned
two sequels, was created to make rituals and customs more accessible
for disaffected Jewish youth — as are many of today's activists.
Ironically, it was a $5,000 seed grant from the Institute for Jewish
Life that led to the publication of The Catalog.

Gary Rosenblatt is editor/publisher of the New York Jewish Week.





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Don't Have A Wig? Make a Monetary Donation to Purchase a
Wig for a Woman or Child Experiencing Hair Loss Due to
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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

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November 3 2011


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