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April 25, 1986 - Image 8

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-04-25

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

8 Friday, April 25, 1986

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

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LOCAL NEWS

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Local News Editor

Employees at the funeral home
which bears his name call him
"tough but fair," and are quick to
point out his "subtle sense of
humor." But the greatest tribute
to Ira Kaufman is "having a lot of
friends and a wonderful family."
Kaufman, who became 90 on
April 16, has a lot of family of
which to be proud. Helping to
celebrate his special birthday
were children: Jean and Gerald
Sucher, Charlotte and Nathan
Feldman and Herbert and Babs
Kaufman.
Grandchildren who were on
hand at a variety of birthday ac-
tivities included Susan and
Stuart Ulanoff, Sandra Sucher
and Richard Jacobson, Mark
Sucher, Linda and Eric Grosse,
Nancy Feldman, Diane Feldman,
Dr. Bud and Judy Kaufman,
Ira Kaufman
Ilene and David Techner and
Patricia and Richard Eisen-
shtadt. Kaufman has 12 great-
work, one year of mortuary sci-
grandchildren.
ence and a. one-year apprentice-
His first wife, Florence, died in
1955. Since 1957, he has been ship. Many who apprenticed
married to the former Rose Grace under Kaufman have since gone
on to become successful funeral
Rogvoy.
home directors.
The former milkman, phar-
As an employer, Kaufman, now
macy school student and
retired, is seen as a quiet, but
hardware store employee, Kauf-
gentle man. Employees regard
man came to the U.S. from Au-
him more of an associate rather
stria in 1907, when as a youngs-
ter he went into business selling' than a boss. Mark Klinger, a
mortician at the chapel, said
matches.
In 1940, at the urging of a Kaufman "didn't give you work
Christian friend who was in the he didn't do himself. He was
tough, but fair."
funeral business, Kaufman
Associate Harold Goldman said
opened up his own funeral
the senior Kaufman "was like a
chapel. "We saw an opportunity
grandfather to all the em-
for another Jewish funeral
home," he said. According to his ployees." And his gentle manner
extended to families who needed
son, Herb, who today runs the
family-owned Ira Kaufman the services of the chapel. "He's a
Chapel, "Dad became fascinated very kind man," Rabbi Syme
said, "a man with great empathy
with the opportunity and chal-
lenge of going into funeral serv- and sympathy. He always cared."
Klinger added that his boss
ice." The younger Kaufman
added that his father found the was a great influence. "I picked
experience "rewarding for what up a lot of the man's sensitivity
he could do for the Jewish com- for the business. I always found
him to be soft and kindly, very
munity."
The hours were long and the pleasant with the people."
struggle hard, according to Herb Grandson David Techner, an em-
Kaufman, but to outsiders the ployee of the family firm, said his
grandfather has a magic touch,
funeral home has achieved much
acclaim. Rabbi M. Robert Syme of often walking in on an emotional
Temple Israel who officiates at situation, and without saying a
many services at the chapel, said word, he put families at ease.
Today, that compassidn comes
while speaking at a recent fun-
eral directors convention, many through when he is asked to re-
of the participants voiced their minisce about his earlier years.
respect for the long-time funeral Asked about unusual or memor-
able services he has held, Kauf-
director.
Rabbi Syme called Kaufman Et man speaks with tears in his eyes
man of integrity. He said he per- about the service for his late
sonally knew of poor families to friend, Rabbi Morris Adler, of
whom Kaufman rendered the Cong. Shaarey Zedek, which was
funeral home's services at. no marked by hundereds of people
who lined the streets for the fun-
charge.
eral procession.
Prior to opening his own
In his field, he has assodated
chapel, Kaufman worked two himself with the National Fun-
years for the community-
eral Directors Association,
sponsored burial society, Chesed Michigan Funeral Directors
Shel Emes. In the 1940s, only Association, was past president of
licensing was required to open a District I of the Michigan asso-
funeral home. Formal mortician's ciation and past president of the
education wasn't necessary.
Jewish Funeral, Directors of
Kaufman said that situation America, an organization of U.S.
has changed, making the profes- and Canadian Jewish funeral
sion "more honorable." Today, honies.
morticians are required to have a
In the Jewish community,
high school education, followed Kaufman has allied himself with
by two years of undergraduate several groups and causes: Pis-

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