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May 20, 1988 - Image 90

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-05-20

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

ANN ARBOR

n a cold and snowy
night two months ago,
Dr. Steven Stone and
Dr. Joseph I. Cohen,
both from the Council
of Jewish Federations, told an Ann
Arbor audience something that many
already knew but had never ar-
ticulated so directly. "You have a
federation community even if you
don't have a title as a Federation com-
munity," Stone said. That might
sound redundant, but people
understood what he meant.
Whether or not Ann Arbor should
become a de jure member of the Coun-
cil of Jewish Federations has been a
question many have asked for a long
time. Some thought that Ann Arbor
didn't have much to gain by joining;
others felt it would be a financial
drain on already limited funds, funds
which should be going to Israel.
But community leaders like
David Eduardo Schteingart — Jewish
Community Association/United
Jewish Appeal Board president — felt
otherwise. Not only was that type of
thinking archaic, he and others
argued, it also was incorrect. "A
stronger committment to the local
community can equal a stronger
Israel. One doesn't exclude the other,"
Schteingart said.
Evidently Schteingart and other
federation supporters had a bead on
a change of hearts and minds because
this past Sunday at the JCA/UJA an-
nual meeting, there was near
unanimity — there were but two
abstentions — supporting the idea of
federation affiliation.
That show of broad based support
for federation affiliation can be read
as a mandate for change. It can be
seen as a sign and symbol for moving
in a new direction.
"I do sense that not only is the
community changing, but the UJA is
responding to that change;' said
Chuck Newman, Jewish Community
Center board member and someone
long involved in community affairs.
If things proceed as planned, Ann
Arbor will be a federated community
by 1989. And by that time the
JCA/UJA will most probably have a
new executive director and new home
as well.

82

MIDAY_MAY 20, 1988

Neil Beckman

Mirror, Mirror

Ann Arbor's Jews are working
to redefine the community's
self-image

SUSAN LUDMER-GLIEBE

Special to The Jewish News

Affiliation is an important step others have expressed privately,
whose significance was reflected in though rarely in public.
light of some of the things said at the
The overriding issue, as with most
meeting last Sunday.
every Jewish community, is money.
"We're not part of the Jewish Raising it and spending it. It's no
mainstream by not being federated;' secret that, for a community its size
said Syma Kroll, who's been involv- and with its demographic make-up,
ed with UJA campaigns for a long Ann Arbor could be raising more
time. "We in Ann Arbor find money. This year, according to the
ourselves in the unenviable position campaign report submitted at the
of reinventing the wheel as we have meeting, contributions, as of April 30,
discovered this past year," added Iry 1988, totalled $323,538. Those in the
Smokier.
campaign admitted that that figure
Individuals within the communi- was "flat" and about the same level
ty say that the iconoclastic nature of as last year which, for a number of
the structured community — its isola- factors, was about the same as the
tion from other Jewish communities, preceding year.
its lack of full time professional staff,
"We're not really developing our
its fund-raising and allocation pro- fund-raising capability:' said Schtein-
cesses, even its formal name — has gart. "We have a lot of work to do."
left Ann Arbor in the dust.
Why, in comparison to other com-
Some say it's been bound by iner- munities, is Ann Arbor not getting
tia. One Ann Arborite, long involved the financial support it should? The
in Jewish affairs, said that the com- most significant reason, some point
munity "has moved like a turtle" on out, is because the JCA/UJA allocates
certain issues. It's a sentiment that only 15 percent of its total budget to

the local area, potential supporters
are less inclined to support the
JCA/UJA because they do not see the
visible results of their fiscal largess.
In Springfield, Illinois, a city
which is comparable in size to Ann
Arbor, for example, approximately 50
percent of their funds are sent to the
UJA, the rest remains within the
community. "Our community has
made that decision and people seem
to be pleased with it," explains
Lenore Loeb, executive director of
the Springfield Jewish Federation.
Springfield is not alone.
About 40 percent of the funds
raised by Detroit's Allied Jewish
Campaign remain in the communty.
For the Doubting Thomases, those
who believe that local resources are
finite and Ann Arbor cannot expect
to raise more than it has, some com-
munity leaders point out that in lit-
tle over a year over a million dollars
was raised for the Jewish Communi-
ty Center's new facility on Birch
Hollow Drive.
Newman, who was intimately in-
volved with that building and fund-
raising campaign, feels that that suc-
cessful venture shows that people are
willing and able to make a financial
commitment for what was, essential-
ly, a new venture. "It shows a leap of
faith," Newman says. "People went
out on a limb."
Some individuals feel that the
commitment from the community
could and should be further enhanc-
ed and extended through changes in
the present JCA/UJA structure,
which they consider anomalous in
several regards.
A four-point proposal for changing
the JCA/UJA bylaws was submitted
for further discussion at the annual
meeting. According to signees of the
proposal, their intention is, fun-
damentally, to open up the Jewish
community to people they feel are
presently disenfranchised. "I'm con-
cerned that the Jewish community be
inclusive," explains Laurie White, one
of the signees. "How we define who's
a member of the Jewish community
should be a Jewish definition," says
Benjamin Ben-Baruch. "The idea of
financial contribution as the highest
form of identification is wrong," says

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