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January 04, 1991 - Image 14

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-01-04

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

DETROIT

JCC Is Seeking Donors
For Expansion Of JPM

RICHARD PEARL

Staff Writer

D

onors are being
sought for the propos-
ed expansion and
upgrading of the Jimmy
Prentis Morris Jewish
Community Center.
"We are talking with
potential donors," said Dr.
Morton Plotnick, JCC
executive director on
Monday. But, he added, he
didn't expect to have any
more information regarding
the project or its funding un-
til the end of January.
Plans for the expansion of
the 35-year-old Oak Park
facility, which has been
under discussion for a
number of years, call for an
indoor swimming pool, an
expanded physical education
complex, a health club and
dressing rooms for men and
women. Dr. Plotnick
estimated the project's cost
at about $1.75 million.
However, the overall total
needed is closer to $3.5 mill-
ion because of the endow-
ment necessary to cover
operating expenses for the
expanded facility, said
Robert Aronson, executive

vice president of the Jewish
Welfare Federation.
"The project has been
through a lot of processes,
both at the Jewish Commun-
ity Center and the Federa-
tion," said Mr. Aronson. "If
we can find the money re-
quired, we can go ahead with
it. We're looking for a few
donors to bring it together.
"I'm guardedly optimistic
that we can find the funds,"
he said. "The project has

The overall total is
closer to $3.5
million to cover
operating
expenses for the
expanded facility.

been identified by a number
of committees as being one of
Detroit's top priorities."
Noting the recent expan-
sion of the Federation's
Neighborhood Project area,
Dr. Plotnick said, "I don't
think there's any question
that a growing area would
support the expansion. But
there is no timetable in
this."
The Neighborhood Project

provides incentive loans to
Jewish families moving into
certain areas of Oak Park
and Southfield. The new
area takes in a larger seg-
ment of Southfield.
More than 28,000 Jews
live within a five-mile radius
of JPM, including approx-
imately 200 Soviet Jewish
immigrant families who
have arrived since 1988 and
are living in apartment
complexes in the immediate
JPM area. About 140 of
those families have one or
two children, according to
Tanya Fingerman of the
Jewish Family Service's
Resettlement Service.
Overall, there has been an
increase in the use of the
JPM Building, including
rentals of the existing gym-
nasium by outside groups for
lunch-hour basketball
games, according to Irma
Starr, JPM director.
Last summer, JPM
underwent $145,000 in
renovations. The gym was
air-conditioned, the building
was re-roofed and its park-
ing lot repaved and
expanded by 60 spaces, br-
inging the total capacity to
140 vehicles. El

Yudi Reinitz and big brother Zevi have fun on the Oak Park
Compuware Arena ice during Yeshivat Akiva PTA's fourth annual
Community Sports Night Dec. 23. The Ambassadors Hockey Club
• gave away 300 free game tickets to participants. The evening raised
Photo by Glenn Triest
$2,400 for the PTA's school projects.

MSU Author Raphael Airs Jewish And Gay Issues

a campus security office of her
anger, the reporter writes
down what he hears and in-
cludes that in his article.
Nat's identity is therefore,
known. A couple of days later,
his dorm room is gutted by
fire.

PHIL JACOBS

Managing Editor

L

ev Raphael probably
wouldn't dance on
Tisha B'Av, the solemn
holiday commemorating the
destruction of the Second
Temple.
But his fictional character,
Nat, does. The common bond
that Mr. Raphael and Nat
have is that they are both
Jewish and gay. Nat is one of
three main characters in the
lead short story of Mr.
Raphael's recently publish-
ed book, Dancing on Tisha
B'Au Nat, a student, is in
the process of realizing his
homosexuality and even
"coming out" with it.
The character, who
typically would lead daven-
ing at the campus Orthodox
minyan, is asked not to even
touch the shul's Torah
again, after a fellow con-
gregant spots him leaving
a gay bar. Nat finds dancing
as a way to ease his pain.
And on this particular day,
Tish B'Av, he turns his
back on what he knew was

14

FRIDAY, JANUARY 4, 1991

Lev Raphael:
Author of Dancing On Tisha B'ay.

holy, to dance. But the danc-
ing also symbolizes his corn-
ing to terms with being dif-
ferent, with being gay.
In another story in the
anthology entitled "Abom-
inations," Nat's sister,
Brenda, is outraged at see-
ing anti-gay graffiti defacing
a campus bridge. She
gives a few quotes of anger
to a campus newspaper
reporter. And when she tells

Mr. Raphael, 36, uses
many different devices that
should be familiar to the
Detroit area reader. There
are references to Southfield
and East Lansing. But the
more important devices in-
volve his feelings of being
both gay and Jewish and the
son of Holocaust survivors.
As national Jewish gay ac-
tivist Andy Rose entitled his
anthology of Jewish gays
and lesbians, Twice Chosen,
Mr. Raphael's stories
sometimes deal with a peo-
ple "thrice chosen."
Mr. Raphael's name is
hardly a stranger to readers
on a national Jewish level.
He has written on diverse
subjects here in The Jewish
News as well as the
Baltimore Jewish Times and
many other Jewish maga-
zines and periodicals.

This is a New Yorker who
came to East Lansing in
1981 as a graduate assistant
in the English Department.
He later became an instruc-
tor, then an assistant pro-
fessor. His parents came to
the United States after their
concentration camp libera-
tion, and they went into the
dry cleaning business.
Yiddish, Mr. Raphael said,
was the household's first

"I'm hopeful that
people will be able
to read this book,
maybe even
identify with it and
also find hope in
it."

Lev Raphael

language, English second.
He grew up in what he called
a literary household. He
wore out the copy of The
Three Musketeers he first read
as a child.
It was also as a 10-year-old
that he said he probably

knew something else about
himself besides his love of
literature. He learned that
he was different, that he was
gay. But it wasn't until he
reached his 30s that he
openly considered himself a
homosexual. He said that he
dated women all along, until
he "came out."
The courses he has taught
at Michigan State are a
direct reflection of his per-
sonal experience. There are
courses entitled "Women in
America," "Holocaust Lit-
erature," and "Jewish-
American Fiction."
"I grew up without a speck
of religion in my family,"
Mr. Raphael said. "Our
family, though, was steeped
in the Jewish experience.
How could it not be? My
parents had experienced
Bergen Belsen, the Vilna
ghetto. When I was in first
grade, I can remember a se-
cond or third-grader say that
somebody called the Nazis
took Jewish babies, threw
them up in the air and
caught them with their
bayonets. That's something I
remembered early on. That's

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