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June 19, 1987 - Image 48

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-06-19

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• Tennis Clothes
• Golf Shirts
• Warm-Up Suits

Shifting Center

Continued from preceding page

Carol and Chuck Newman outside the new center with Director
Carol Hoffer


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48 Friday, June 19, 1987


crease Jewish communal life
was further incentive.
For the center's supporters,
there was no question as to
whether Ann Arbor needed a
Jewish center. According to
Hoffer, the new facility is a
logical result of nursery school
growth since 1984. At that
time, the 25-year-old Beth
Shalom Nursery School could
no longer be housed at either
Beth Israel Congregation or the
Ilniversitry of Michigan's Hillel
Foundation. The school moved
into its own facility, which
quickly became the nucleus of
the Jewish Community Center.
At that time, 300 families
belonged to the JCC, and, says
Laurence Smith, board presi-
dent for the new center, a feel-
ing of "readiness for creating a
more visible community"
quickly grew. The cultural,
social and recreational
organizations housed in the
original building had inade-
quate space in which to develop.
At the same time Ann Arbor's
public school board began to
sell some of its surplus school
buildings. When the opportuni-
ty came to purchase a building,
Hoffer says, the slogan became
an energetic "We must act
"Chuck Newman was the ma-
jor catalytic force" behind the
drive to purchase a building for
the JCC, says Smith. Newman
felt a need for a strong JCC to
bring the Jewish community
together and keep it vital.
Under the direction of Newman
and several other individuals, a
bid was made of approximate-
ly $600,000 for a building
worth several million. That bid
was accepted, paving the way
for the new center.
The backbone of the cam-
paign was its substantial
private support, notes Sima
Croll, chairman of the fund
raising committee of the new
Association. In addition, dona-
tions came from people who

had never before given to
Jewish causes. Dr. Edwardo
Schteingart, president of the
assocation's board of directors,
says that a large untapped
reservoir of potential resources
was exposed- by the JCC in its
Now that the center has been
established, one of its key
target groups is non-affiliated
Jewish families in Washtenaw
County, according to Arthur
Lindenberg, membership vice
president at Beth Emeth. Ann
Arbor is an especially transient
area, and families may not
want the more established com-
mitment of joining one of the
temples. "One of the top groups
we're aiming at," says Chuck
Newman, "is the marginally
identified Jews." Many of the
area's families and couples are
non-traditional, and often feel
moreicomfortable in the kind of
social or cultural setting provid-
ed by the JCC.
Another hope of those af-
filiated with the center is that
- it will cross sectarian lines
within Judaism. The religious
schools, says Newman, despite
their vital leadership, • only
draw from their own religious
affiliation. Lindenberg believes
that the JCC can be instrumen-
tal in bringing a variety of peo-
ple together, for instance, the
temple youth groups. In addi-
tion, says Laurence Smith, the
JCC can serve as a "window on-
to Jewish heritage" for the non-
Jewish members of the
These expectations seem a
tall order to fill, but Carol Hof-
fer believes the JCC is fulfilling
the role. The center provides a
home for already-existing
organizations, such as the
20-year-old Jewish Cultural
Society and- the Hebrew Day
School. In addition to these
groups — which are essential-
ly tenants of the new facility —
other organizations, such as
Beth Shalom Nursery School

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