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January 25, 1991 - Image 30

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-01-25

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Soviet Immigrant Is Using
5 Percent Solution To Aid Israel


Assistant Editor


n ardent capitalist
mixes freely with
relics of communism
at an Oak Park store.
In one corner: Soviet
swords, posters, dolls,
trinkets and Georgian min-
eral water, the very kind
Stalin used to drink. In the
other corner: consummate
businessman Mark Glazer.
The owner of International
Food and Gifts, Mr. Glazer is
a Soviet immigrant
dedicated to the American
way of life, as well as help-
ing other Soviet Jews and
doing his utmost for Israel.
Starting last week, Mr.
Glazer is turning over 5 per-
cent of his store profits to
help Israel during the Gulf
"The idea just came up,"
Mr. Glazer said of his deci-
sion to send money to Israel.
At the end of each day, he

checks the cash register. "If
I make $150, $250, $500,
$1,000 — whatever, I'll take
out 5 percent for Israel," he
Mr. Glazer also is collec-
ting tzedakah from visitors
to the store. A sign reading
"For Israel" hangs above a
small white bear sitting on a
jar filled with coins, $1 and
$5 bills, near the front door.
Most of the more y was do-
nated by Soviet in,migrants. •
A Ukraine native, Mr.
Glazer is a longtime
salesman who began his ca-
reer loading boxes on trucks.
He later worked in Moscow,
becoming general manager
of a chain of stores. Then he
moved to Siberia, where he
received a salary increase
and enjoyed the quiet. "But
it's not for everybody, I
know," he said.
In 1979 — "the best year,
thanks to Brezhnev" — Mr.
Glazer and his family came
to the United States. They

settled first in Philadelphia,
then Florida and, five years
ago, Detroit. Mr. Glazer con-
tinued working as a
salesman, saving and bor-
rowing enough to open
International Food and Gifts
last August.
Among the store's offer-
ings are foods from the
Soviet Union, Poland,
France, Israel, Germany,
Belgium and Italy, among
others. There are 15 diff-
erent kinds of fish, 50
varieties of sausage, diced
vegetables from Bulgaria,
Russian-style cakes made in
New York and a jam of rose
petals and sugar from the
Soviet Union.
One of the store's most
popular items is black
caviar, said not only to be
tasty, but a panacea for cer-
tain blood ailments.
While admitting that it's a
predictable remark for a
store's owner to make, Mr.
Glazer proclaims his deli-

Kesher Page Will Link
Groups With Volunteers


Staff Writer


ave time to do vol-
unteer work, but
don't know which
organizations need your
help? Beginning this week,
the Jewish Community
Council and The Jewish
News might have the answer
with the debut of the Kesher
page. (See Page 38.)
- Kesher, which means link
in Hebrew, offers "a whole
range of volunteer oppor-
tunities," said Miriam 'm-
erman, Jewish Commun-
ity Council's director of do-
mestic concerns. "The whole
purpose is to link people in
the community with organ-
izations that can benefit by
those resources."
The Kesher page began
taking root a year ago when
The Jewish News approached
Jewish Vocational Service
and the result was an oppor-
tunity to showcase the skills
of recent Soviet emigres who
were desperately looking for
work, said Arthur Horwitz,
The Jewish News associate
Special Friend, a column
provided by Jewish Family
Service profiling youngsters
needing a big brother or
sister was added to the



paper's classified section. A
Family to Family column
provided by National Coun-
cil of Jewish Women Greater
Detroit Chapter which
sought to match older Soviet
couples with American
families came next. Finally,
Project Sherut, done in con-
junction with the Jewish
Community Council and
featuring items needed by
both Jewish and non-Jewish
organizations, was added.
"One of the valuable com-
munity services that The
Jewish News can provide,
because of its wide readership
in the Jewish community, is
the ability to match up in-
dividuals and organizations
and vice versa," Mr. Horwitz
After calling the Jewish
Community Council, he
began constructing, with the
Council's help, a page of
community notices and vol-
unteer opportunities.
Although the Soviet
emigre ads will remain in
the classified section, the
Kesher page will combine
Project Sherut and Special
Friends with segments en-
titled Volunteer Link and
Volunteer Opportunities.
Whenever possible, the
Kesher page will appear
across from The Jewish
News' Community Page.

Under Volunteer Oppor-
tunities, the names, ad-
dresses and telephone
numbers of 25 organizations
which need volunteers will
appear on a rotating basis,
Ms. 'merman said. Vol-
unteer Link will highlight
two or three organizations
and the opportunities
available, she said.
Volunteer possibilities
range from the Girl Scouts to
the Detroit Area Agency on
Aging to National Council of
Jewish Women to the
American Cancer Society to
the Birmingham-Bloomfield
Art Association, Ms. Im-
merman said. Skill levels
needed include stuffing
envelopes to meeting the
needs of troubled teens to
reading to the blind to
assisting a deaf or han-
dicapped adult or child, she
The Jewish Community
Council began looking into
ways to match people with
volunteer opportunities
after reading an American
Jewish Committee report
revealing a steep decline of
volunteers among the Jew-
ish community, Ms. 'mer-
man said. "We saw it as a
dangerous trend which we
would like to reverse. It is so
inconsistent with our
trademark," she said. ❑

Mark Glazer: "You name it; I got it."

cacies "exceptional. He who
tastes my food — I assure
you 95 percent will become
my customers. The other 5
percent are the ones who
moved to Florida."
But food is just the start of
it. Mr. Glazer, who hopes one
day to open a Russian res-
taurant in Detroit, also sells
Soviet drygoods. Among his
treasures are Russian hats
made of mink, ballet shoes,
samovars, scarves, a Rus-
sian-alphabet typewriter,
perfume and jewelry.
Most of the items were
brought over by immigrants
who had purchased them as
investments just before leav-
ing the USSR, as a way
around Soviet restrictions
limiting emigrants to just a
few rubles.
Mr. Glazer said one of the
best aspects of his job is
meeting the myriad men and
women coming through the
shop's doors. One patron is a
97-year-old man born in
Russia who, as a child, came
to the United States with his
parents. Until he walked
into International Food and
Gifts, the man hadn't spoken
Russian for decades .
"He started speaking Rus-
sian right away," Mr. Glazer
said. "Now he's my best
Another time, Mr. Glazer
began talking with another
patron — only to discover
she had been good friends
with his mother in the
When the Soviet Union's
national hockey team visited
Detroit, the players stopped
at International Food and
Gifts. They bought fish, Mr.
Glazer said.
As his store's reputation
increases, Mr. Glazer finds
his business is expanding
beyond the bounds of fish,
jam and scarves. Now his
motto is, "You name it; I got
it," he said. He can help
American businessmen find

apartments in the Soviet
Union and is looking to join
in a New York-based, Rus-
sian-English translating
service. He sends funds to
friends and family back in
the Soviet Union and tries to
find jobs for new immi-
"Right now, I know of lots
of people who will take any
work: truck drivers,
painters, housecleaners, en-
gineers," he said.


"He who tastes my
food — I assure you
95 percent will
become my
customers. The
other 5 percent are
the ones who
moved to Florida."

— Mark Glazer

A collector of curious
vodka bottles — his latest
find: "Perestroika Vodka"
from Germany — Mr. Glazer
said he doesn't feel strange
selling food and gifts from a
country he chose to leave. He
deals in only a limited
number of goods from the
Soviet Union, all of which he
receives from distributors in
New York.
"I would never want to
help the Soviet govern-
ment," he said. "It's against
my nature."
Mr. Glazer, the father of
two daughters who also has
a son-in-law serving in the
Air Force, said he misses
little about the Soviet
Union. The exception: his
Today, Mr. Glazer doesn't
even like leaving American
soil. If he had to go abroad,
he would count the moments
until he could arrive again
at JFK International Air-
port, he said. "And then I
would say, 'Home, Sweet
Home.' "


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