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May 29, 1987 - Image 37

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-05-29

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have a stake
in Israel's
ranking in
and social



Special to The Jewish News

Israeli youngsters, including Ethiopian immigrants, line up for a tennis lesson in Ashkelon.

Two-Fold Success

etroit-area Jews have been
important contributors to
the Israeli Ibnnis Centers
Association since that group
began raising funds in the
U.S. in 1977. Detroit now plays an
even larger role for the ITCA because
of the election of Seymour Brode as
pre,sident. Brode, from Franklin, has
been a member of the ITCA board
since 1977.
The tennis center program- began
in 1976, when the first center open-
ed in Ramat Hasharon. There are now
eight centers in Israel, which have
provided free court time and tennis
lessons, as well as racquets, balls —
even shoes, if necessary — to 80,000
children throughout the country in
the past ten years.
In 1977, the ITCA U.S. began
fund-raising efforts by sending young
players, with their coaches, on exhibi-
tion tours. The first Detroit exhibition
was held at Brode's Franklin Racquet
Club in Southfield. Most subsequent
exhibitions have been at private
homes which have courts. This year's
area stop is at the home of Phil
Fisher, on June 26.
"Over the past ten years, the
Detroit area has been extremely
generous in supporting Israel Tennis
Centers," reports Brode. "I've always
been involved as the head person in
the Detroit area, but we've had 15 ex-
hibitions at various locations." Brode
says the total amount raised in
Detroit for the program exceeds $1

"It's easy fund-raising, "Brode in-
sists. "They see the children, they see
the kids. We have the best product in
the world. You take these young
Israeli kids — and again, that's the
future of Israel — we're molding and
developing these children to be good
ambassadors throughout the world.
And I think it's just a very easy sell,
once these people understand our
story and understand that the Israel
Tennis Centers are not just teaching
kids tennis."
Tennis, explains Brode, is the
vehicle used to help give Israeli youth
a better way of life. They are not only
taught tenths at the centers, but man-
ners and sportsmanship. Each center
also has a library to aid children with
their schoolwork.
The Israeli Tennis Centers also of-
fer wheelchair tennis for adults and
children, a drug rehabilitation pro-
gram, and a high school dropout pro-
gram. Youngsters are given the oppor-
tunity to learn English from
volunteer teachers. Two centers have
community integration programs for
Ethiopian Jewish immigrants.
As an example of the center's
teaching personal values as well as
athletic skills, Brode describes an
episode from the first Detroit exhibi-
tion. A 10-year-old Israeli named
Gilad Bloom — now one of Israel's top
players and a world-class competitor
— took to the court against an older
American boy. Brode was sitting with
Joe Dresner, who had already given
a contribution for the ITCA. As they

watched, Bloom coolly took command
of the match while the frustrated
older player acted like a miniature
John McEnroe, shouting and stomp-
ing around the court.
After the match, Dresner asked
Brode for his check back, and prompt-
ly wrote a larger one.
Phil Fisher attended his first
Detroit exhibition two years ago. "The
children range in all ages and sizes
and come from all different
backgrounds. One of , the greatest
aspects of Jewish education is not
only schooling, but other, extracur-
ricular activities. And I think this
gets the kids directed in a direction
that is better than just an education
can go, a whole kind of atmosphere.
"And these kids," he said, "are
really good at what they do and they
love the sporting activity. This is a
coordinated effort and a supervised ef-
fort. So it really helps their overall
education and growth."
In Israel, all children have equal
access to the tennis centers. That,
says Brode, is another way the centers
can change Israeli life. By fraterniz-
ing at a young age, Jews and Arabs
can see each other for what they real-
ly are, unaffected by any societal pre-
judices. "When the - 'Good Fence' (at
the Lebanese border) was opened
years ago, we used to drive a truck to
the Good Fence, pick up Lebanese
children and take 'em to the center (at
Kiryat Shemonah), so that ... Israeli
children were intermingling with the

Continued on next page

Seymour Brode

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