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August 23, 1991 - Image 19

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-08-23

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

Where our doors
are only a short
distance from yours.

Leadership Turnover
Concerns Agencies

NOAM M.M. NEUSNER

Staff Writer

T

he leadership ranks of
Detroit's Jewish agen-
cies are quickly disap-
pearing.
Some are retiring. Some
are leaving for other cities.
Still others were victims of
tight budgets. Together, the
posts they will leave repre-
sent a large chunk of
Detroit's Jewish community
leadership.
Robert Aronson, the Fed-
eration's executive vice pres-
ident, finds himself trying to
prepare the community for
this leadership exodus after
only two years at the helm.
He is the third Federation
director in 10 years.
Sam and Ofra Fisher, who
directed the Fresh Air Socie-
ty and the Agency for Jewish
Education, respectively, are

The turnover has
not given many
pause, but it has
raised a central
problem for
Detroit's Jewish
community: Will
new leaders have
the kind of
experience needed
to run the
community?

leaving for Washington,
D.C. Helen Naimark, ex-
ecutive director for the Jew-
ish Federation Apartments,
is retiring later this year.
Retiring also is Albert
Ascher, who directs Jewish
Vocational Service.
At the Federation, both
assistant Allied Jewish
Campaign directors are
leaving. And changes are
under way at the Jewish
Community Center, where
two executive positions will
remain unfilled.
JCC Assistant Executive
Director Marty Oliff is leav-
ing for a new position in
Chicago. Irma Starr, former
director of the Jimmy Pren-
tis Morris JCC in Oak Park,
has taken a part-time posi-
tion with Jewish Experi-
ences For Families.
JCC officials said Ms.
Starr's job will be divided
among the current staff
members.
Sinai Hospital is also
restructuring, and its board
of directors has hired a

Chicago consultant as
interim executive to help the
hospital survive as an in-
dependent, Jewish-
sponsored health care facili-
ty.
With all of these changes,
the community now is ask-
ing how these changes will
impact Detroit's Federation.
"At the moment, it's
tough. Although I am still
learning, I can call on the
experience of others," said
Robert Aronson, Federation
executive vice president. "So
I can still be helpful."
New leadership in the
agencies will require the at-
tention of the entire com-
munity, Mr. Aronson said.
The new professionals will
have to be educated on agen-
cy goals and history. And lay
leaders will have to get to
know their professional
counterparts.
All this, he said, is an op-
portunity to shape the Fed-
eration.
"It gives me the opportuni-
ty to build a new team," he
said.
Federation staffers will
help look for agency
replacements, which Mr.
Aronson said will hopefully
be a mix of outsiders and
Detroiters.
The turnover in the agen-
cies has not given many
pause, but it has raised a
central problem for Detroit's
Jewish community: Will a
new generation of leaders
have the kind of experience
needed to run the commun-
ity?
"There's a lot of continuity
here," said Mrs. Naimark,
who is leaving Jewish Fed-
eration Apartments on Jan.
7. "It's unfortunate that so
many people are leaving at
once, but sometimes it can
be healthy."
Mrs. Naimark, who held
her position for 14 years,
said experienced leaders can
become "prejudiced" against
new ideas.
Alan Funk, who heads the
Jewish Home for Aged, ech-
oes Mrs. Naimark's op-
timism.
"Turnover can be produc-
tive — if it doesn't happen
every week."
• The question of continuity
lingers, however, because
the agencies want to find
help from outside Detroit to
replace the departing
leadership.
The Federation Apart-
ments will replace Mrs.
Naimark with Marsha
Goldsmith, who will come to

ti

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

19

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