Articles and Letters to the Editor Regarding Rabbi Eliezer Silver's Ruling on the Opening of the Jewish Community Center on Shabbat
From The National Jewish POST and OPINION
Friday, July 7, 1961
POOLS OPEN ON SATURDAY
The Jews of Detroit or Cincinnati are no different than the Jews, except no doubt slightly in some phases of their attitudes and practices as far as Jewish life is concerned, of Miami or Chicago or Denver.
Consequently it was not to be expected that there was a possibility of a constructive compromise in Detroit or Cincinnati as against anywhere else in the U.S. where the swimming pool in the Jewish community center has been opened on the Sabbath.
Miracles don't happen today, and the fact that Rabbi Eliezer Silver lives in Cincinnati and tied in the opening of the pool with certain limitations, won't make the difference. What is done in Indianapolis or Los Angeles will be what is done in Cincinnati or Chicago.
So far no word of any uprising has come from Cincinnati, but from Detroit there is "tzorus". The Orthodox are complaining bitterly, even to the extent of buying paid space to denounce the Saturday swimming.
Unless one believes that Rabbi Silver is senile, and we assure you he is as alert mentally as any Orthodox leader, we have to assume that his permission for the opening of the Center pool there, with certain reservations in consonance with the Sabbath (such as no foods for sale, no selling of tickets, no cars parked in the parking lot, etc.) was given in the belief that Saturday swimming at the Jewish center pool was, considering all the alternatives, a good thing.
Given the apathy of the Jewish community about the Sabbath, against the inviting coolness of the swimming pool, any commitments on anyone's parts can be only valueless promises.
What then can be done?
The answer very likely, at this juncture in American Jewish history, is nothing.
As the Sabbath and the wealth and treasures it has to offer becomes meaningful, then there is no need to close the pools at all. Their welcome relief from the unbearable summer heat is a rich reward for Sabbath observers who follow the injunctions to make this a day of inner searching, of relaxation, of time for the more serious considerations of life's values.
A few short years ago, kashrut was on its way out. There was hardly a Jewish affair, even of our national Jewish organizations, which wasn't strictly non-kosher. Had the bars been lowered then, kashrut today would have been like the sheitel, and if you don't know what that means ask your grandmother.
No one can enforce Sabbath observance in the Jewish community at this time.
In Louisville, where the new Jewish community center there is a beehive of daily activity, the pool is closed on the Sabbath until sundown. Whether this means that the Louisville Jews do not go swimming elsewhere on the Sabbath, or shop, etc., only a survey would show.
There is a difference.