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February 03, 1989 - Image 25

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-02-03

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Joe Eisenberg, the Community Centre and Peretz Apartments.


he Windsor Jewish Com-
munity Council is embark-
ing on a mission it hasn't
had in 31 years. The coun-
cil's executive director,
Joseph Eisenberg, has announced
plans to retire by June 1990. True, he
isn't exactly leaving the organization
in the lurch, but the council may need
that long to find the unique in-
dividual who will succeed Eisenberg.
Eisenberg and his family moved
in 1958 from New Britain, Connec-
ticut, where he had been working for
the Jewish Federation. He remembers
thinking, "It seemed like an, exciting
idea to expose the family to a foreign
country for a couple of years:
As the "couple of years" turned in-
to 31, Eisenberg looks back at a fruit-
ful career highlighted by the opening
of the Windsor Jewish Community
Centre's facility on Ouellette Avenue
in downtown Windsor, the construc-
tion of the adjacent I.L. Peretz senior
citizen apartments, and the uniting of
the Jewish community.
Although these accomplishments
are a testimony to Eisenberg, he is
quick to credit the "continuous flow
of leadership' he has experienced in
Shortly after assuming his new
responsibilities, however, the 33-year-
old Eisenberg spotted a weaknes .s.
"There was mature, steady, solid
leadership," he says, "but there was
not a conscious effort to involve
younger people. They were all older
than I was."
Eisenberg eventually attracted
his peers to the Centre by organizing
the Centre Theatre Workshop, which
staged productions of many hit
musicals. From its enthusiastic
ranks, the potential leaders


Joseph Eisenberg has only one more year at
the helm of the Windsor Jewish community.


Special to The Jewish News

Eisenberg was seeking began to
"In a way, you could say we grew
up together:' says Eisenberg, who
cites the current president of the Cen-
tre, Alan Orman, as a case in point.
"Alan played the lead in many of our
early theatre productions. His wife
was involved too. (In a nostalgic twist
to the story, their 26-year-old son,
Dan, recently played the lead in the
workshop's production of Damn
Yankees and is also an emerging
leader in the Centre.)

Referring to his successor,
Eisenberg muses, "No possibility will
be overlooked, but wouldn't it be nice
if a younger person was selected who
would grow together with our current
group of young people . . . It's a ques-
tion of a leader helping to involve
them. They have the largest stake in
the community because it is their
kids who will be growing up here."
Will their kids be growing up in-
Windsor, or do the attractions of
Toronto pull young Windsor Jews
towards life on a faster track? "It's a

factor," says Eisenberg, "but it's not
overwhelming. Although the college
aged may want to go where the action
is, the Jewish population in Windsor
is fairly stable!'
"Attracting young people to the
Centre is a priority, but to be suc-
cessful, the new director should be
able to get along with those of all
ages,"says Eisenberg who is a
member of the search committee.
"Windsor has a Jewish popula-
tion of 2,000. Fifty percent of our com-
munity is over 60 years .old and 25
percent is under the age of 20," he
points out.
Actually, the new director will be
in direct contact with many of the
senior community because the
72-unit I.L. Peretz House is attached
to the Jewish Centre. Its residents can
pass freely from the lobby of their
building into the lobby and activity
rooms of the Centre. The Centre also
provides activities for all ages in its
12,000 square foot building, which in-
cludes a gym/auditorium, several
multi-purpose rooms, a library/board
room, a dairy kitchen, health club,
youth lounge, an outdoor swimming
pool and a wading pool.
"Of course, the new director must
have a lot of skill in interpersonal
relationships," Eisenberg says. "What
is crucial, however, is that he or she
be committed to Jewish survival."
Eisenberg's conviction is based on
personal experience. "In World War
II, I was with General Patton;' he ex-
plains. "My division wound up at the
end of the war in Czechoslovakia
meeting the Russians. I became
familiar with the camps and the sur-
vivors. Something happened to me. I
felt a deep sense of commitment to
seeing that the Jewish community,

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