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March 08, 1991 - Image 6

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-03-08

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Stopping The Flight
Out Of Southfield


It's a critical time for Southfield's Jewish
The recently released Neighborhood
Mobility study, whose data are drawn from
the 1989 Jewish Welfare Federation demo-
graphic study, identifies a troubling trend,
continued flight by Jewish households to
the "suburbs."
Some of this movement is the result of
upward mobility — buying that dream
house on a lake. But a disturbing amount
is based on "white flight."
It's no secret that Southfield's public
schools are the key to the city retaining its
diversity. Though generally of similar
quality to the better suburban school
districts, Southfield schools are not attrac-
ting most young Jewish families. When
confronted with schools consisting of too
many other minorities, Jews are fleeing.
But to where? The recently released 1990
U.S. Census data show that between 1980
and 1990, the number of minority families
moving to such areas as West Bloomfield

and Farmington Hills has skyrocketed.
And the trend is likely to continue.
Is today's Jewish flight from Southfield
tomorrow's Jewish flight from West
Bloomfield and Farmington Hills? Where
will it all end? Lansing? Howell? Flint?
The Jewish Welfare Federation needs to
go beyond its Neighborhood Project loan
program in addressing these questions.
The Southfield school board, with its vast
resources, needs to develop unique pro-
grams — right now — to make its public
schools so good that its Jewish residents
will look beyond the system's other per-
ceived drawbacks. And those Jews com-
mitted to Southfield need to organize
themselves and monitor every school
board meeting and council session. And
every Federation action, too. There are
Jewish lobbies in Washington, D.C. They
are needed in Southfield. It's a critical
time for Southfield's Jewish community, and
Detroit's. It's time to stop running for the
sake of running.

Which Mr. Baker
Will Israel Receive?

For all the talk of whether or not there
should be linkage between Iraq's takeover
of Kuwait and Israel's occupation of the
West Bank and Gaza, the end result is that
within a week of a Persian Gulf cease-fire,
the diplomatic guns are turned toward
No rest for the weary.
Secretary of State James Baker is in the
Mideast, talking to coalition allies and
making his first visit to Israel. Will he be
expressing American gratitude for Israel's
unprecedented restraint in the face of some

Much depends on
whether the Bush
administration views
Israel as part of the
Mideast problem or a
key to the solution.

40 Iraqi missile attacks, or will he be call-
ing in his chits, noting that the U.S. came
to the rescue with Patriot anti-missile mis-
Much depends on whether the Bush ad-
ministration views Israel as part of the
Mideast problem or a key to the solution.
The "old," pre-Gulf war President and Sec-
retary of State viewed the Jewish state as a
major hindrance in terms of Arab-Israeli
progress. Based on the events of the war,
Mr. Bush and Mr. Baker could feel even
more deeply that Israel must be prodded



toward peace. According to this argument,
Arab states like Saudi Arabia and Syria
are more closely aligned with the U.S.,
which has increased her clout in the region
considerably, and is ready to impose its
"new world order" on the Mideast. What
better way to begin than bringing Israel to
the peace table?
But the Israeli government sees things
quite differently. Government leaders feel
that the U.S. not only owes Israel a debt of
gratitude for her restraint during the war,
but should begin to realize that Israel's
value as a stable, strong democratic ally in
the Mideast is of invaluable importance.
The U.S. should also realize, finally, that
Yassir Arafat is not the man to bring the
Palestinians to a peace table and that a
new leader, or framework, should be en-
couraged among the Palestinians.
Israel's leaders believe that the path
toward Mideast stability involves ad-
vocating that Arab states negotiate peace
treaties with Israel rather than imposing
an international conference.
Consistent with both views is Washing-
ton's greatly enhanced influence in the re-
gion. Whether she will use it to emphasize
the need for the Arab states to recognize
Israel or to pressure Israel into accom-
modations remains to be seen.
Much will depend on which Secretary
Baker shows up — the old James Baker
whose impatience with Israel was
palpable, or the new Mr. Baker, who has
learned, during the course of a war, that
the key to peace is in promoting trust and
encouraging both sides to take positive
steps toward each other.

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Southfield Quality,
Not Quantity

As a Southfield resident
and member of the Federa-
tion's Neighborhood Project
for the last four years, I am
compelled to supplement your
cover story of last week:
"Suburbs Attract Southfield
Jews." The upshot of that ar-
ticle, of course, as is general-
ly the case, is that statistics
alone present only a partial
Although there may indeed
be a net outflow of
Southfield's Jewish residents
(assuming the study data are
accurate), it must be proper-
ly observed that the Jewish
community has always been
more than just numbers. To a
large degree, the success and
vibrancy of our community is
independent of quantity.
To assess the true picture of
"Jewish" Southfield, one
must examine neighborhoods,
not simply the number of peo-
ple within the city's boun-
daries during a given period.
Of the Federation's 381
Neighborhood Project loans
made over the past four years,
for example, 40 percent were
made for purchases of homes
in Southfield.
The distribution of these
homes is revealing. Rather
than being uniformly spread
throughout Southfield's near-
ly 30 square miles, they are
primarily concentrated in
specific neighborhoods, such
as 10 Mile and Greenfield,
Lahser between 11 and 12
Mile, and Cranbrook Village
(north of 12 Mile between
Southfield and Evergreen).
These Jewish neighborhoods
are thriving and belie the dire
impression left by your
Moreover, 83 percent of the
Neighborhood Project's new

homeowners are under age
40, and 63 percent have
children, hardly a sign that
Southfield's Jewish presence
is evaporating.
The Detroit Jewish com-
munity has never sat still. It
no sooner paces out its boun-
daries than it pulls up the
I perceive, however, a
change afloat. People in my
neighborhood, at least, have
chosen to live where they are
not just because of the schools
and the shopping. They've
based their choice upon
others having made the same
choice and upon the stability,
a necessary ingredient to
Jewish life, that that creates.
I anticipate Southfield's
Jewish community to be
around for many years to

Stuart J. Snider


Scare Stories
And Southfield

Neighborhoods have their
own special qualities. We can
say that because we've lived
in a wonderful neighborhood
in Southfield for 18 years.
In fact, several years ago we
considered the idea of moving
(after reading scare articles
about. the future of South-
field) and rejected the thought
because we already had
everything we wanted right
here. Being close to highways,
close to shopping, surrounded
by beautiful homes, in a dorn-
munity which continually
works to offer quality pro-
grams and activities, we
decided that we would have to
be foolish to leave behind
what we already have.
But, the funny thing is that
articles such as the one that
Continued on Page 10

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