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May 31, 2012 - Image 46

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2012-05-31

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points of view

>> Send letters to: letters@thejewishnews.corn

Contributing Editor

Editorial

Israel Ambassadors

We travelers must maintain
post-mission support.

D

Tel Aviv / Israel Journal

E

njoying the wonder of Israel's his-
tory, geography, culture and people
is one thing. Sustaining allegiance to
the heritage, safety and vibrancy of the center
of Jewish life is something more. It requires
a commitment of time and energy amid the
hubbub of everyday activity.
Israelis are courageous, determined and
resilient. But their country is the ancestral
homeland for all Jews. Israel's security in a
lethal region hinges in large part on diaspora
Jews stepping forward and symbolically stand-
ing together to demonstrate that the Zionist
dream boasts global support.
Whatever their moti-
vation, Jews arrive in
Israel as equals. They
quickly learn what it's
like to live in a place
with a Jewish majority.
It's easy falling in love
with this ancient land
carved so stunningly
from rock, sand and
the toil of pioneers. It's
harder to stay inter-
ested and engaged from
the safety of distant lands such as America.
Organized trips are a great way to visit Israel.
Recent local examples include Temple Israel's
adult mission and class sojourns by Hillel Day
School and Frankel Jewish Academy. Such vis-
its are the best teaching crucible for stirring
Jewish souls and drawing Jews deeper into
their ethnic and religious identity.

Temple Israel mission-goer Beth Sklar of

Farmington Hills enjoys time with children

at the Jewish Agency for Israel's Ethiopian
Absorption Center near Safed.

Jewish Detroit holds a special investment
in helping meet that demand — emotionally,
philanthropically and spiritually. But we as a
community can do more. Teens, the future of
Taking Action
our shrinking Jewish community, especially
Returning home and reverting to old ways —
need early and steady points of engagement
namely, appreciating, but not advocating on
with Israel beyond Federation's teen mission,
behalf of our embattled spiritual home — def- valuable as that experience is. We must encour-
initely doesn't cut it. We need to find meaning-
age and support Federation, our synagogues
ful opportunities to express our connection to
and our teen-oriented organizations to think
Israel — channels that benefit the Jewish state boldly when it comes to demonstrating to
and impact our Jewish longing. This can take
teens why Israel matters to them.
the form of lighting Shabbat candles, becoming
active communally or exploring synagogue life. Applying History
Further, we need to be at the forefront of tell- In the glint of the setting sun overtaking
ing Israel's story again and again. We certainly
the Mediterranean Sea, as he longed for the
have the insight and inspiration to do that.
114 mission-goers to let Israel linger in their
Israel must remain part of the fundamental
hearts, Temple Israel Rabbi Harold Loss reflect-
threadwork of American Jewry.
ed on one of the motivating forces that keep
That's what the Israel mission idea is all
his mission-faring flame burning: "I'm in awe _
about: Integrating the land of our forebears
of Jewish history — how we are still here!'
into how we live as diaspora Jews. Israel
I am, too.
demands that much of our attention if it's to
Zionism, of course, has provided a yearning
stay strong, vigorous and a place for Jews the
for Jews through the ages, despite the remote-
world over to aspire to and embrace however
ness of ever returning to Zion. The attraction
they choose.
Ambassadors

on page 47

46

May 31 • 2012

Don't Let Tiger Player
Off Hook Too Quickly

etroit Tigers outfielder Delmon
Young apologized for his
alleged drunken anti-Semitic
slur after four Chicago tourists were
approached by a kippah- and Star of
David-wearing panhandler outside a
New York City hotel. But he has much to
prove before the Detroit Jewish commu-
nity should clean the slate on his outra-
geous behavior in the April 27 scuffle.
As the tourists walked up to the hotel
Delmon Young at the
doors, Young, 26, started yelling anti-
Tigers press conference
Semitic epithets, police said. It wasn't
clear at whom Young was yelling, but he
got into a fight with the Chicago group; a 32-year-old man was tack-
led and slightly hurt, according to police and the criminal complaint.
Young faces a misdemeanor aggravated harassment charge as a pos-
sible hate crime. He acknowledged he should have stayed in his room
that fateful night rather than go drinking.
In a May 4 press conference, Tigers General Manager Dave
Dombrowski told reporters: "I've been around Delmon enough to
know that I feel he's a quality individual. I think he made a mistake,
and he's committed to getting help. Again, nobody really knows what
happened. I will say from all my experience and exposure to Delmon
Young, I've never felt he was anti-Semitic. If we felt he was, or any
of our players were, it would not be tolerated, and this would be
handled completely differently."
At the press conference in the Tigers dugout, Young said: "I'm
sorry to all the fans, the Tigers, my teammates and everybody
out there. I just want to let everyone know I am not anti-Semitic. I
was not raised that way. I came from a good family and we weren't
taught any of that, especially growing up in a diverse area." He said
he would "let his actions from here on out" take care of themselves
"and show you guys that person that's being portrayed is not me."
Young announced that he spoke with both Rabbi Joshua Bennett
of Temple Israel in West Bloomfield and CEO Scott Kaufman of the
Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit.
Young's apology is nothing more than a first step. Time will tell
whether he really can move forward in a positive way and show his
drunken state was an aberration. Major League Baseball has placed
him in treatment for alcohol abuse.
Young should have, and still can, reinforce his dugout apology by
addressing the Detroit Jewish community directly. Rabbi Bennett
related how Young said he wants to build relations with Jewish
Detroit and reach out to its young people. Dialoguing is great, but
how does Young propose to do that?
He also should volunteer at a Jewish communal organization, per-
haps at the Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills or the
Beverly Prentis Wagner Teen Center at the West Bloomfield JCC. He
then would be in a position to learn more about Jews and the dan-
gers associated with stereotyping them or any other ethnic group.
Whether Young is anti-Semitic or not (his agent is Jewish), some-
thing in his background or makeup caused him to go nuts after
believing the person he was scuffling with was Jewish. He's seeming-
ly biased in some deeply seated way despite his pronouncement to
the contrary. In addition to Jewish community volunteer service as a
learning tool, maybe he requires some sort of sensitivity counseling.
Young is back playing baseball. And a month has passed since the
incident.
Still, Detroit Jewry waits patiently for Young's next-step action
plan solidifying just how penitent and contrite he is.
You demonstrate repentance through the sincerity of your
actions, not the promise of your words. F

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