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September 19, 1986 - Image 64

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-09-19

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The Foundation Years

By George M. Stutz

I remember those years only too well. Eco-
nomic and emotional hardship accompanied
Depression and war. At the same time, we saw
important progress and accomplishment in the
Jewish community as we resettled thousands
of immigrants and brought our community
together under the umbrella of the Jewish
Welfare Federation.

My first contact with Federation was in the
early days of 1930. As a volunteer in the
Detroit Emergency Relief Fund, an organiza-
tion distributing food, shelter and clothing to
the needy, I was invited by the incomparable
humanitarian Fred Butzel to meet with Julian
Krolik and Abe Srere. They proposed to ab-
sorb the program to form the Jewish Unem-
ployment Emergency Council (1931), as a
department of the Jewish Social Service Bu-
reau. As the Depression continued, the Mayor
of the City of Detroit, Frank Murphy, patterned
the city's relief program after the successful
Jewish Unemployment Emergency Council.

About this time, I became personally involved
in a raging controversy concerning the Home
for the Aged. As then assistant prosecutor in
charge of arson cases, I condemned the Jewish
Old Folks' Home located on John R and
Edmund Place. It was the beginning of long
debate which resulted in a new Home for the
Aged on Petoskey (1937). The Home subse-
quently annexed the adjacent Jewish Children's
Home. In our meetings, the concept of a Fed-
eration Apartments developed—to be realized,
of course, many years later.

the Depression, when a total of $112,913 was
raised from 3,330 contributors. This compares
with $3,744,351 raised in 1946 from 22,120
contributors. From 1943 to 1945, the Allied
Jewish Campaign was suspended to become a
partner in the Greater Detroit War Chest.

Since I was aware of the arduous and trying
experience of fund raising, I suggested a cele-
bration at the end of Campaign, to relax, honor
our workers and introduce preliminary plans
for the following year. The plan was adopted in
the late '40s and became known as the Detroit
Service Group's annual Stag Day.

The smallest Campaign fund during Federa-
tion's first 20 years was in 1933, the height of

Social service has been in constant change
during the past 60 years, taking us from the
welfare state to a self-help philosophy made
possible by private philanthropy. The key to
solving the changing needs of our community
has been through Federation, and the accom-
plishments I have mentioned are just a few
lines in a long, remarkable list.

So many good people contributed to the
progress of our community and institutions in
these foundation years, it would take a volume
to list their names.

In 1936, the League for Human Rights was
established to combat Nazi activity in Detroit.
Rabbi Leon Fram, first chairman of the organi-
zation, took the lead in forming the group.
Philip Slomovitz, editor of the Detroit Jewish
Chronicle, was responsive personally and
editorially to the human rights program.

On a personal note, I consider my Federation
involvement among the most important events
and experiences in my life.

The Jewish Social Service Bureau assisted
refugees during these years. While some be-
came independent, many long-term problems

George Stutz was president of the Hebrew Free
Loan Association from 1935 to 1938 and the
Jewish Family Service from 1939 to 1941.

The Hebrew Free Loan Association (HFLA) was
effective and important during the Depression,
when it loaned more than $150,000 each year
to the needy. Every Sunday the officers of
HFLA met with applicants. Typical loans were
for tuition, financing coal purchases, and keep-
ing small businesses afloat. The HFLA assist-
ed thousands in the community and kept many
Jewish families off city welfare.

In 1932 I was elected chairman of the newly
created Allied Jewish Campaign planning corn-
mittee. One suggestion was the organization
of a "trade council" under the aegis of the
Detroit Service Group, year-round organization
of the Campaign. The members of the trade
council contributed to the growth of Federation
and the Allied Jewish Campaign during the
first 20 years, and many of their families are
active today.

remained. These services are still an important
responsibility and are continued today through
Resettlement Service and the Jewish Family

Federation's early leadership
From left:

Rear: Ben B. Fenton, Harry H.
Platt, Harry S. Grant, Nate S.
Shapero, Irving W. Blumberg, Sidney
Stone, Charles N. Agree, Alex
Schreiber, Nathan Metzger, Reuben
J. Rosenfeld

Center: Sidney L. Alexander, Harvey
H. Goldman, Charles E. Feinberg,
Mrs. Edwin M. Rosenthal, Barney
Smith, Aaron Silberblatt

Seated: Meyer L. Prentis, Kurt Peiser,
Aaron DeRoy, Henry Wineman,
George M. Stutz, Gus D. Newman

June 2, 1933

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