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June 14, 1985 - Image 14

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-06-14

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

1

Friday, June 14, 1985

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

The Jewish Center branch
is undergoing a resurgence,
fulfilling inter-generational
and geographic needs.

BY BEVERLY WOLKIND
Special to The Jewish News

Above: "Miss Bessie" Levin helps Jacob Bayer with an art project.

Right: Ada Bandalene helps the entire community get the kinks
out.

"Shalom, mein shayne kinder,"
bellows the feisty little septuagena-
rian.
"Shalom, Bubbe Aida," answers a
chorus of bright-eyed pre-schoolers.
A typical greeting of grandmother
and grandchildren during a Shabbat
visit or Sunday outing?
Nope, it's all part of an inter-
generational revolution taking place
at an unassuming little building on
Ten Mile Road in Oak Park.
The place: The Jewish Commu-
nity Center's Jimmy Prentis Morris
branch (JPM). The time: Any typical
week day, when as many as 400 people
of all ages will walk through the doors
to enter a world of activity, warmth
and Jewish programming.
It's the result of a major building
renovation and program expansion
that is reaching out to the more than
7,000 Jewish families that live in the
branch's immediate vicinity. Built in
1955 as an adjunct to the Center's
main building, then at Curtis and
Meyers in Detroit,- the branch was
endowed in 1966 by the Lester Morris
and Meyer Prentis families in memory
of their son and grandson.
Many people felt that it was a
"forgotten" building; and in 1980 a
grass-roots effort got under way to re-
vitalize the branch. Beginning at a
parlor meeting at the Huntington
Woods home of Dr. Ellsworth and
Janet Levine, the effort snowballed
into a major community involvement
with people from Oak Park, South-
field, Detroit and Huntington Woods.
Janet Levine and Marcy Feldman led

the way as chairmen of the JPM Ac-
tivities Committee, pushing for more
programs and classes and initiating
the annual Branch Bash party to pub-
licize JPM.
"We all had one thing in com-
mon," recalls Levine. "At some point,
the Center had been pivotal in our
lives. We wanted to restore that full
family relationship."
The renovation effort was bol-
stered by the late Gene Jaffe, who was
then branch director, and by the sur-
rounding synagogues and temple.
Grants totaling $43,000 were provided
by the Jewish Welfare Federation,
United Foundation and State of
Michigan.
Scott Brown, assistant executive
director of the Center, has over-all re-
sponsibility for the branch. He cites
the renovation grants as the first step
in creating a "remarkable about-face
that has enabled JPM to develop an
extensive network of services and to be
a focal point in the neighboring com-
munities."
Although the renovation began
with basics — fresh paint, new floor
and ceiling tiles, outdoor landscaping
— Brown notes that it facilitated the
re-allocation of space, particularly for
expanded child care. Along with those
changes came a re-structuring of staff
responsibilities.
The 1-696 expressway cutting
through the area — while at first a
problem — has become a solidifying
factor, according to Brown, creating a
kind of cohesiveness that has made the
community determined to have a via-

Gle nn Triest, Benyas-Kaufman

14

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