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April 15, 1988 - Image 25

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-04-15

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the possibilities of a data bank. "We
are a national Jewish community,
whether we like it or not. We're all out
there thinking that we are making
Shabbat for ourselves, but we're not.
There's others involved."
Those others might be children of
Detroiters attending college across
the state or across the country, or
parents or grandparents living in the
Sun Belt.
"You worry about these people,"
Berman points out, and so do the
federations which provide them with
Hillel foundations, Jewish centers,
health care and services for the elder-
ly. And, from the pragmatic stand-
point, "we also have to follow those
(Allied Jewish Campaign) gifts
This state of flux within the
American Jewish community has led
to re-thinking by the federations and
proposals by some visionaries. Ber-
man envisions "regionalization" into
larger federations, citing Detroit and
Ann Arbor as examples. "Ann Arbor
wants to set up their own federation,
and we are helping them. But ideal-
ly," says Berman as he mulls the
possibilities of cost-saving and effec-
tiveness, "Ann Arbor should be part
of Detroit's federation."

he changing role of federations
is changing the role of CJF. Ber-
man says, "Detroit is now com-
pleting a study on Jewish iden-
tity and affiliation. That wouldn't
have happened 20 years ago. We
would have been laughed out of town.
Now we are gatherers of information."
CJF, Berman believes, must con-
tinue to be a service agency to the
federations, acting as an information
exchange. It also must expand its role
in recruiting personnel into the
Jewish social service field, as well as
endowment training. "We can turn to
the national agencies, the specialists,
and help the guy in Toledo or other
one-man federations?'
Berman also sees CJF working
harder to involve local Jewish leaders
in national Jewish communal work.
CJF alone has 45 commissions, and
Berman wants them to meet three
times per year instead of twice. "We
also have seminars for small city ex-
ecutives, intermediate city executives,
a new commission on federation-
agency relationships . . . How do we
interact? How do we relate?"
Furthermore, CJF has working
relationships with eight national
agencies, ranging from the Jewish
Welfare Board to the National Foun-
dation for Jewish Culture to the Na-
tional Jewish Community Relations
Advisory Council. Funding from the
federations for these agencies is fun-
neled through the CJF's Large Cities
Budgeting Conference. Berman would
like to see representatives of the 19
largest federations, including Detroit,


strategically about the Council and
what it does. And we convinced the
federations that they could not con-
tinue to operate by having a finger in
the dike — although many still
operate day-to-day."
Planning and re-thinking appear
to headline Berman's agenda for CJF.
"We have to get the individual federa-
tions to do strategic planning," he
says. But, "It's a huge effort to re-
analyze everything you're doing."
Detroit in recent years has taken
broad steps in this direction. These in-

dude major communal task forces on
services to the elderly, Jewish identi-
ty and affiliation, Jewish education
and services to the disabled, analyz-
ing present and future needs as well
as current programs.
Berman added a piece to the na-
tional analytical pie two years ago,
helping to create an embryonic na-
tional Jewish data bank. Utilizing
demographic studies produced by
Jewish communities since 1961, CJF
has hired an English statistician to
work with City University of New

York, Brandeis University and
Hebrew University of Jerusalem to
pull data together.
"There has been a need in Jewish
life for many years for a place to
`garage' this material?' Berman says.
The data bank now houses "all kinds
of information for leaders, planners,
academics." And from a personal
perspective, "I want to know how
many Jewish kids we have out there.
Are we losing or gaining? How many
are attending Jewish schools?"
Berman lights up as he ponders

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