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July 10, 1992 - Image 7

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-07-10

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

OPINION

JPM's Future Still Uncertain

'ARTHUR M. HORWITZ

Associate Publisher

roundbreakings are
always happy occa-
sions. Plenty of
fibbons, shovels, back-
atting and, of course,
speeches. Children in
rollers . . . polite applause

Groundbreakings are
out the future and our ex-
ectations of what it will br-

This Sunday, a facility
rhich once had no future
will be offered one. At a
groundbreaking, the Jimmy
entis Morris "branch" of
tie Jewish Community
',enter of Metropolitan
Detroit will finally come of
age, nearly four decades
-after it was erected as an
outpost for the then-thriving
Curtis-Meyers JCC in nor-
awest Detroit.
As a "branch," on 10 Mile
load in Oak Park, JPM did
t offer the amenities
rich, at that time, were
•cessary to attract users.
There is no swimming pool
tennis courts; there are
ited outdoor recreation
eas and an absence of
space for gatherings.
When communal leaders
decided to leap-frog Oak
Park and Southfield and
:rest the community campus
at Maple and Drake roads in
est Bloomfield in the early
1970s, with a massive JCC
as its focal point, tremen-
lous attention — and dollars
— were expended. At the
time, the Maple-Drake JCC
was years, and miles, ahead
f the Jewish community's
anticipated northwest ex-
Jclus.
If JPM was a "branch,"
then it soon became a
"twig."
But several changes were
.)ccurring in the old neigh-
borhood.
'With relatively stable
Jewish neighborhoods in
orth Oak Park and Hun-
tington Woods as a
backdrop, 1-696 cut a wide
ath that, thanks to exten-
sive lobbying by Jewish•
communal leaders, was
neutralized with the erec-
tion of park-like platforms
straddling the roadway.
These leaders also squeezed
unds out of the federal
overnment to help build
subsidized elderly housing.
-Both the platforms and the
housing surround the JPM

The Federation, through
Neighborhood Project,

launched a loan program
which encouraged home
ownership and renovation
and helped to attract and
keep Jewish families in the
area.
Sensing the economic
potential of the area,
landlords and developers
upgraded existing commer-
cial districts or created new
ones. And the Federation-
facilitated purchase of the
former B'nai Moshe
building, which now houses
Yeshiva Beth Yehudah's
Sally Allan Alexander Beth
Jacob School For Girls, fur-
ther solidified the area's
stability.
The desire to significantly
expand the JPM facility was
championed for years by a
small, but vocal, group of
Huntington Woods
residents. The positive
changes in the neighbor-
hoods surrounding JPM
broadened the circle of sup-
port to include many JCC
board members and Federa-
tion leaders, particularly
Executive Vice President
Robert Aronson.
They provided the legwork
needed to secure more than
$3 million in commitments

to fund the JPM renovation
and expansion, plus endow-
ment for operations.
But the future now being
offered to JPM is still not
certain.
It will require more than a
bigger and better building.
It will require paying mem-
bers who receive value for
their dollars.
For JPM to thrive, it needs
to offer membership fees
lower than those charged at
the Maple-Drake JCC. Even
with the JPM improvements
and expansion, a health club
membership at Maple-Drake
provides many more impor-
tant amenities, including an
indoor tennis facility and
track.
Aldo, based on the Federa-
tion's recent demographic
study, the economic profile
of persons residing in the
Oak Park, Southfield and
Huntington Woods areas is
one of less affluence than in
the West Bloomfield/ -
Bloomfield Hills areas.
The surest way to make
the expanded JPM into a fi-
nancial loser is to have a
uniform fee structure: $900
will buy you a health club

Jimmy Prentis Morris "branch" needs to be a magnet.

membership at Maple-Drake
or JPM. Which would you
choose, assuming you could
afford it in the first place?
JPM also must not be
viewed as "competition" for
the Maple-Drake facility. To
survive and thrive, it will
need creative programming
and talented, caring staff
with adequate budget
dollars. Some of those
dollars will have to come at
the expense of the Maple-
Drake facility.
- Perhaps most important

for JPM is the need for the
hundreds of families who
have committed dollars and
time to the facility's expan-
sion to serve as vocal ad-
vocates. Whether it's
through the JCC's board and
committee structure, the
formation of an independent
oversight group or both, the
future success of the Jimmy
Prentis Morris JCC is really
in their hands.
The future of a center —
and the neighborhood —
depends on it. ❑

Judge A Man By What He Says

GARY ROSENBLATT

Editor

On the eve of
the Democratic
National Con-
vention, here's
where we stand
on the presiden-
tial prospects:
George Bush has
been as hostile to Israel as
any American president;
Ross Perot is a major ques-
tion mark, with no one
knowing where he stands on
Mideast peace talks, PLO
terrorism, foreign aid, loan
guarantees and any number
of other critical issues; and
Bill Clinton has been so
outspoken in his support for
Israel that a prominent
American Arab has attacked
the Democratic Mideast
platform as "pandering" to
the Jewish state and Ameri-
can Jews.
So the Jewish community
is enthusiastic about, and
supportive of, Bill Clinton,
right?
Wrong.
Jews, like most other
Americans, it seems, are
either openly distrustful of

Mr. Clinton or vaguely
wary. So while James Zogby,
president of the Arab
American Institute,
criticized Mr. Clinton in a
Washington Post Op-Ed
piece this week for "failing
to distance himself from the
hard-line pro-Israel lobby,"
and while the Clinton
Mideast platform reads like
a Zionist tract — opposition
to a Palestinian state, an
end to U.S. pressure on
Israel in the peace talks,
support for the loan guar-

American Jews
have been less
supportive of Ross
Perot than
members of any
other religious
group.

antees and for Jerusalem as
Israel's undivided capital —
American Jews who care
deeply about Israel's securi-
ty shrug their shoulders and
say, in effect, that's just
rhetoric. Good politics.
Doesn't mean much.
George Bush's rhetoric,
though, has meant a great

deal. Ten months ago, in
squelching a $10 billion loan
guarantee for Israel, he took
to national television to por-
tray himself as one man
alone facing thousands of
Jewish lobbyists who had
descended on Washington to
advocate support for the loan
guarantee. In so doing, Mr.
Bush raised the level of anti-
Semitism in this country by
implying that these Jewish
lobbyists were engaged in
activities that were bad for
the United States.
Circumstances have
changed, though. With a
new and more pragmatic
government forming in
Israel, with the November
election in America drawing
closer and the Jewish vote
looming as pivotal, we will
see a new Mr. Bush warmly
welcoming Mr. Rabin to the
U.S. and talking about the
loan guarantees again.
Mr. Clinton, in an address
to a Jewish group last week,
predicted that Mr. Bush will
make a number of pro-Israel
gestures in the near future
and "try in four weeks to
make you forget what he has
done in the last four years."
But even those American

Jewish leaders who seem
most eager to feign amnesia
regarding Mr. Bush's behav-
ior toward Israel until now
are not naive enough to
think that the President and
Secretary of State Baker
have any real empathy
toward the Jewish state.
Most troubling, perhaps, is
the administration's convic-
tion that all settlements in
the territories are a hin-
drance to peace, including
those in east Jerusalem.
So then we have Ross
Perot, the human Rorschach
test of this political year. He
says little of substance, but
if you're unhappy enough
with the status quo — and
particularly with the polit-
ical leadership of the
Democrats and Republicans
— you may see in Mr. Perot
a way out.
His popularity speaks less
about him and more about
the depth of frustration
among Americans for poli-
tics-as-usual and their
distrust of the system. Those
who support Mr. Perot's
candidacy may be the only
ones among us who cling to
the notion that the major
problems facing this coun-

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

7

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