The Challenge Years
By Edythe Jackier
he late '60s and'70s were years of turbulence,
marked by the War in Vietnam, a riot in Detroit
and the government scandal of Watergate. At
a time when the State of Israel was coming to
maturity, her people suddenly were at war—
twice in six years.
To all of these forces of challenge and change
our community responded. No one who was
around in 1967 and 1973 will ever forget the
outpouring of support for Israel. Emergency
appeals raised millions with no hard sell neces-
sary, and a sense of unity bound us together. I
saw people—Jew and Gentile—who never
participated in Federation and the Campaign
before rise to the occasion with donations of
money and time to help secure the State
Meanwhile, our community was on the move,
with many of our facilities shifting from North-
west Detroit to Oakland County. The Detroit
riot of '67 drew our attention to the many peo-
ple — mainly elderly—living in the inner-city,
who were financially and emotionally unable to
relocate. At the request of the Jewish Welfare
Federation and with additional monies, the
Jewish Family Service helped many of these
people during the early '70s. Some were en-
abled to move into the new Jewish Federation
Apartments on Ten Mile Road in Oak Park.
Jewish Federation Apartments was created to
help meet the needs of a growing poulation of
older adults living alone on modest incomes.
About 2,000 people applied for the first 160
units, built with government assistance in
1969, and we added Phase II, Prentis Federa-
tion Apartments, in 1978. Not long afterward,
Hechtman Apartments was built at Maple and
Drake on the Jewish Community Campus, ad-
joining the innovative facility operated by the
Jewish Home for Aged, Fleischman Residence.
Today, more than 400 people live in Federa-
tion-sponsored apartments, and we are con-
sidering the building of a fourth structure.
In the 1970s, greater emphasis was placed on
concrete services to those in need, with many
of these services provided by volunteers. For
example, members of the National Council of
Jewish Women, in conjunction with the Jewish
Family Service, participate in Meals on Wheels.
Working out of Jewish Federation Apartments
five days a week, 280 volunteers deliver two
daily meals to each of 180 homebound elderly
Although they are many thousands of miles
away, aged Jews in Iran enjoy similar kosher
Meals on Wheels. My husband and I had the
privilege of observing this program while on a
visit there, and I will never forget the gratitude
expressed by the recipients of this wonderful
service funded by the Joint Distribution Com-
mittee with our help.
Another major challenge to our community
was the welcome arrival of immigrants from
the Soviet Union after years of being "the Jews
of Silence". Reminiscent of an earlier time in
our history, Federation's agencies and many
synagogues combined their resources to help
integrate the newcomers.
The complex task of the Resettlement Service
was to coordinate all these efforts. Jewish
Vocational Service helped provide jobs, while
Sinai Hospital offered medical care. Jewish
Family Service provided counseling, and the
Jewish Community Center inaugurated an
English-language program. Through Fresh Air
Society, many of the immigrant children were
treated to their first camping experience.
Synagogues and schools acquainted—or re-
acquainted—the immigrants with their heri-
tage. It was truly a community effort —one that
I hope we share once again when the gates are
opened for Soviet Jews who wish to leave.
Homecoming to Israel, 1960s
In this spirit of welcome, no country has more
experience than Israel. Over the past decades,
we have helped her bring home more than a mil-
lion immigrants, and through Project Renewal,
we have ensured the future for many of them.
As an active member of the Women's Division,
I have been especially proud of the growing
role of women in Federation. This past year
saw our Women's Division Campaign total sur-
pass $3 million, thanks to 600 volunteers and
7,500 contributors. Many women are officers
and members of the boards of Federation
agencies, filling positions of leadership. With
more and more women entering the work force,
we have initiated a Business and Professional
Division, an example of how we have learned
to adapt to the changes in our society.
Based on the events of the past two decades, it
is easy to see why the Detroit Jewish commun-
ity enjoys the finest reputation in the country.
To have been a participant in those events has
been very special to my family and to me.
Edythe Jackier is vice-president of the Jewish
Welfare Federation and was president of its
Women's Division from 1968 to 1970.
Women's Division Phonogift, 1970. From left: Tillie
Mossman, Frieda Stollman, Edythe Jackier