c.1997 N.Y. Times News Service<
The search by many people for a sense of spiritual meaning isbecoming a well-documented feature of the 1990s. It drives somepeople back to houses of worship, some to join small groupscentered on prayer and some to affiliate with entirely newreligious communities that expound ways of thinking and behavingthat may strike the rest of society as exotic and unsettling.
The personal spiritual search has become a fact of life in someprestigious educational institutions, too, like the JewishTheological Seminary in New York, where the development of theintellect traditionally has run far ahead of questions about thesoul.
With the example of his own institution in mind, Neil Gillman,chairman of the seminary's philosophy department, said, ``Weclearly are in the midst of a wave in which the spiritualist model,for the first time in about 200 years, is in.''
Gillman made his remarks on Thursday night, in the first of aseries of lectures titled, ``Spiritual Journeys,'' held at theseminary as part of its semiannual adult-education program, theFranz Rosenzweig Lehrhaus, a title that means ``house oflearning.''
Gillman identified three options for fully expressing a Jewishreligious identity: through a careful focus on ritual observance(he called it behaviorism), a devotion to the study of texts(intellectualism) and the pursuit of a personal relationship withGod (spiritualism).
``I think for the first time in about a century,'' he said,``the seminary has lots of spiritualists.''
The seminary, which is affiliated with Judaism's Conservativemovement, has long specialized in providing a nurturing ground forstudents who would approach religion primarily from an intellectualstandpoint. That there has been a shift, producing a student bodymore diverse in its concerns, reflects a generational change, saidIsmar Schorsch, the seminary's chancellor.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Schorsch said, the seminary's studentstended to focus on social issues and on questions of responsibilityto the Jewish community and to the larger society. ``The climatetoday is much more in quest of a rich inner life,'' he said.
Others have taken note. The Forward, a weekly Jewish newspaper,recently published an article titled ``Students Swoon forSpirituality,'' citing the lecture series and two regulardiscussion sessions for students, one called ``What Do YouBelieve?'' and the other ``God Talk.''
Schorsch said the groups were a sign of the times. ``I cannotimagine a series of lunches on `God talk' at this institution 25years ago,'' he said. ``I think spirituality existed here 20 to 25years ago, but it was expressed through and subsumed undergrappling with classic Jewish texts.''
These days, he said, students are more willing to express theirreligious views in terms of their personal feeling. ``And that isnot without its problems,'' Schorsch said. ``It's much moresubjective. It's much less subtle, and it is much more centered onthe individual.''
Gillman, in his lecture, also expressed reservations about therising interest in spirituality, saying it could beanti-intellectual and narcissistic.
But spirituality has its defenders at the seminary, among themRabbi David Wolpe, who is a special assistant to Schorsch. Wolpespoke on Thursday night in response to Gillman's lecture, sayingthat at Judaism's core lies ``the idea of an ineffable, intangible,mysterious God.''
God, he added, asks not just goodness from people, but holinessas well, a sense of being linked to God. As an example, he saidthat if a person, while lighting candles at dusk on the Sabbath,felt something stirring, ``then that is your soul.''
In an interview Wolpe said that an interest in spirituality wasto be expected among American Jews at this point in their history,when many unifying social goals had been accomplished.
``The major political mandates of American Jewry have beenfulfilled,'' he said, pointing to the establishment of Israel, thebuildup of Jewish federations and the freedom to emigrate grantedto Jews in the former Soviet Union.
In the wake of these accomplishments, Wolpe said, he would likeJews to see the essence of faith as lying not just in charity orsocial projects but in spiritual devotion. ``What is uniquelyJewish is the language Jews use to express their attachment toGod,'' he said.
In terms of the seminary, Schorsch said he saw a place for theexponents of all three forms of religious expression described byGillmanthe intellectualists, the behaviorists and thespiritualists. ``I think our challenge as a religious institutionis to struggle for a healthy balance,'' Schorsch said. ``They needto remain in tension.''
^New America News Service@=
U.S. foreign policy is in pretty rough shape. It is unfocusedand as changeable as the whims of the president.
This is something I should be concerned about.
Yet, instead of examining the state of NATO expansion or theeffort to make Europe boycott trade with Cuba, I find myselfwondering about the Jewishness of Secretary of State MadelineAlbright.
My concern is not so much about whether she is Jewish but aboutwhat difference, if any, it makes.
The important fact is that the country now has a no-nonsense,candid, talented woman with exemplary experience at the UnitedNations as a foreign-policy advisor.
But as a secular Jew and an incorrigibly inquisitive person, Ido care.
Trying to understand why others care even more is anilluminating exercise.
Whether it is the ugly practice of ``outing'' a gay person'sprivate life to the public, or ``outing'' Madeline Albright as adaughter of Jewish parents who became Catholics and who herselfmust have had some inkling of this recent past, the assumption is asecret must be revealed.
In academia, Albright's ``outing'' raises the question of whichof one's own experiences belong in classroom discussions.
In more than three decades of teaching, even in an undergraduatecourse on the social psychology of identity, I have never alludedto my own thoughts about being Jewish.
Yet I too have Catholic relatives: a cousin who in the late1930s changed his name from Cohen to Corwin in order to obtain a``good'' psychiatric residency. He never spoke to the family again.
Another relative became a neo-Thomist at the University ofChicago in the heady days of its Great Books philosophers. LikeAlbright, he became an (atheistic) Episcopalian when he married.
My uncle, however, also a Cohen with a Ph.D and M.D. and whosefather had paid for Corwin's medical education, was offered a postat the Massachusetts General Hospital, then Harvard's mostprestigious teaching hospital. But there was one requirementhehad to change his name.
Although an atheist, he refused and went on to a distinguishedcareer at the University of Wisconsin.
He mentioned to the chairman of his departmentan otherwiseliberal individualthat a brilliant German refugeebiochemist/physician was on a one-year appointment at theUniversity of Chicago and would happily move to Madison.
His chairman snapped, ``You Jews are all alike. You let one ofyou in and you immediately want to build a synagogue.''
My uncle had not been in one since he had been forced by hisparents to be Bar Mitzvahd at the age of 13.
My father, an agnostic, argued that his responsibility as a Jewwas to support the synagogue so that those who wanted to worshipwould have a place to go.
But we were among the lucky Jews. We lived in the States. Youcould become whatever you wantedor so I thought.
I decided briefly to become a Unitarian/Congregationalist. Iliked the music and enjoyed singing in the steeple-topped Vermontchurch. But by 14 I had had enough of anti-Semitism.
New England Inns, now so picturesque, had signs on theirbeautiful green lawns that read ``Christian clientele only.''
Colleges had quotas, private schools were worse and countryclubs were lethal.
This was a generation ago.
Now I ask myself where these experiences belong in my teachingand writing on other issues.
Would I have enriched my classes in science and society had Idescribed my feelings about going to Germany for the first timeafter working for several decades on expanding scientificcollaboration in science between the two countries?
Or would it make a positive difference were I to describe how Ibecame nauseated and slightly faint when a German assistant to theforeign minister whose guest I was in Bonn said, ``Dachau wasnothing,'' implying that only the Poles had really nastyconcentration camps?
Albright is undoubtedly smarting less from the news of herJewish antecedents than from the repercussions of her denials abouther past.
L'affaire Albright has shown a beacon on much from whichstudents can learn about their own sense of identity. And someonelike myself can gain immeasurably from it as the past has been mademore coherent and vibrant.
c. 1997 Dorothy S. Zinberg
^(Distributed by New York Times Special Features)@=
c.1997 N.Y. Times News Service<
SPLIT, CroatiaThe old fascist marching songs were sung, amoment of silence was observed for all who died defending thefatherland, and the gathering on Thursday was reminded that it wasthe 57th anniversary of the founding of Croatia's Nazi-alliedwartime government. Then came the most chilling words of theafternoon.
``For Home!'' shouted Anto Dapic, surrounded by bodyguards inblack suits and crew cuts.
``Ready!'' responded the crowd of 500 supporters, their armsrising in a stiff Nazi salute.
The call and responsethe Croatian equivalent of ``Sieg!''``Heil!''was the wartime greeting used by supporters of thefascist Independent State of Croatia that governed the country formost the Second World War and murdered hundreds of thousands ofJews, Serbs and Croatian resistance fighters.
On Thursday, the final day of campaigning before local electionson Sunday, supporters of Croatia's Party of Rights used the chantas a rallying cry. But the shouts of the black-shirted young men _and the indifferent reactions of passers-byillustrated a broaderaspect of this country's self-image.
President Franjo Tudjman and his Croatian Democratic Union partyrose to popularity and power on the strength of its appeals toCroatians' national pride. Now, six years after the war that wonCroatia its independence from Yugoslavia, Tudjman's party continuesto cast the World War II fascist regime as patriots and precursorsof the modern Croatian state.
The Party of Rights took only 7 percent of the vote in the lastelection, but it is the closest ally of Tudjman, who is reported tobe suffering from cancer and who has actively participated in thecampaign.
Perhaps no other country has failed as openly as Croatia to cometo terms with its fascist legacy. While the French celebrate aresistance movement that was often dwarfed by the widespreadcollaboration with the Vichy regime, and while the Austrians oftenact as if the war never happened, the Croats have rehabilitated theCroatian fascist collaborators, known as the Ustashe.
The Ustashe was led by Ante Pavelic, the wartime dictator whosepicture was plastered on walls in Split in preparation for therally.
``A majority of the Croats oppose this rehabilitation,'' saidViktor Ivancic, editor-in-chief of the opposition weekly, The FeralTribune. ``But they are afraid. These neo-fascist groups, protectedby the state, are ready to employ violence against their critics.''
Ustashe veterans receive larger pensions than old Partisanfighters, who waged a savage fight against the German and Croatianfascist armies. Former Ustashe soldiers are invited to statecelebrations, like the annual army day, while Partisan fighters areignored. And state authorities have stood by as pro-Ustashe groupshave dismantled or destroyed 2,964 of 4,073 monuments to those whodied in the resistance struggle, according to veteran Partisangroups.
The identification with the quisling regime does not stop there.The Croatian currency is the kuna, the same instituted by thefascists. And the red and white checkerboard on the flag, takenfrom medieval Croatian emblems, previously adorned the Ustasheuniform.
The president recently proposed bringing Pavelic's remains fromSpain, where he died in exile in 1959, for burial in Croatia, amove rejected by Pavelic's family. And Vinko Nikolic, an85-year-old former high-ranking Ustashe official who fled intoexile after the war, was appointed by the president to the CroatianParliament.
The transformation is all the more noticeable because ofwidespread participation by many Croats in the Partisan guerrillamovement led by Josip Broz Tito, himself a Croat.
``A huge number of Croats fought the Nazis and the Ustashe,''said 77-year-old Partisan veteran Milivoj Borosa, who defected inhis bomber in 1942 from the Ustashe air force and dropped his payload on a German unit during his escape to the Soviet Union. ``Buttoday those who should hold their heads in shame are nationalheroes.''
The Partisans, who included among their ranks a young FranjoTudjman, committed what today is viewed as an unforgivable sin.They built a united, communist Yugoslavia.
And while the Ustashe state may have been a Nazi puppet, it hadas its stated aim the establishment of an independent Croatia,although it was forced by the Axis to turn over large parts ofCroatia, including much of the Dalmatian coast, to the Italians.
In the current campaign, Tudjman sought to reconcile thecountry's wartime divisions by arguing that the fascist andanti-fascist Croatians performed equally valuable service for theircountry.
A general who became a historian after leaving the Yugoslavarmy, Tudjman is among the leaders of a revisionist school ofhistory that has sought to counterbalance the communists'relentlessly dark view of the fascist years.
But many Croats, especially those who had relatives killed bythe fascists, smolder with indignation over the glorification of aregime that slaughtered opponents with a ferocity that oftenshocked its Italian and German allies.
``You cannot reconcile victims and butchers,'' said OgnjenKraus, the head of Zagreb's small Jewish community. ``No one hasthe right to carry out a reconciliation in the name of those whovanished.''
The climate has become so charged that those who oppose therehabilitation of the Ustashe do not dare raise their voices.
And there have been several attacks carried out against membersof the Social Democratic Party, the old communist party, currentlyfielding candidates for the municipal elections. Many of theblack-uniformed bodyguards at the rally fought against the Serbs asmembers of the Croatian Liberation Forces, a brutal right-wingparamilitary unit formed by the party.
The Ustashe supporters also have a powerful ally in the CatholicChurch in Croatia. The church, led during the war by ArchbishopAlojzije Stepinac, was a prominent backer of the Ustashe regime. Itforcibly converted tens of thousands of Orthodox Serbs and did notdenounce the government's roundup and slaughter of Jews and Serbs.
During the war, Jews and Orthodox Serbs were subject to raciallaws. The Serbs had to wear blue armbands with the letter ``P'' for``Pravoslav''Orthodoxbefore being deported to death campslike Jasenovac.
After the war, many priests, rather than condemn the brutalityof the fascist regime, went on to set up an underground networkknown as ``the rat line'' to smuggle former Ustashe leaders,including Pavelic, to countries like Argentina.
The church, persecuted by the communists, has now re-emerged asone of the most powerful institutions in the country, in large partbecause religion is the only tangible difference separating Serbs,Muslims and Croats. Several priests have enthusiastically joinedthe rehabilitation campaign, portraying Pavelic as a pious leaderwho championed Christian values.
``Ante Pavelic was a good Catholic,'' said Father Luka Prcela,who has held a memorial mass for the former dictator in Split forthe last four years. ``He went to mass daily in his own chapel.Many of the crimes alleged to have been committed by his governmentnever happened. These stories were lies spread by the communists.He fought for a free, Catholic Croatia. We have this state todaybecause of him.''
Go back to SOCIOLOGY 265 -- News Articles Page
If you have any questions or comments please email: