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March 12, 1993 - Image 26

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-03-12

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



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page 1

Council, two from day schools
and four from the community at
large.
The list includes many of the
community's top educators such
as Harlene Winnick Appelman,
whose Jewish Experiences For
Families, J.E.F.F., has become
a national model; Temple Kol
Ami educator Elyssa Berg;
Akiva's Rabbi Eliezer Cohen,
recently named AJE's top edu-
cator; Temple Beth El's Rabbi
Barry Diamond; Mr. Gelberd;
Rabbi Arnie Sleutelberg of
Congregation Shir Tikvah; and
Dr. Mark Smiley, Hillel Day
School's headmaster.
Working with the consortium
will be a newly formed 17-mem-
ber transition team, again
prescribed by the Giles Com-
mission. The team's mandate is
to provide AJE with a govern-
ing structure and to make sure
that AJE moves ahead and that
fund-raising avenues are effec-
tively researched.
Some of the team's members
include Rabbi Harold Loss of
Temple Israel, AJE Chairman
Dr. Joseph Epel and attorney
and AJE board member
Barbara Klarman.
The consortium is essential-
ly made up of people working in
the trenches of Jewish educa-
tion. That, according to Allan
Nachman, chairman of the ME
Education Study Implemen-
tation Committee, is exactly
what AJE wants. He said there
was a feeling that AJE was out
of touch with what was really
going on in the classroom.
Larry Ziffer, the Jewish
Federation's planning director
who worked closely in the for-
mation of the panels, said the
consortium makes the AJE au-
tomatically more responsive and
less prescriptive to the needs of
educators. The consortium also
will keep on eye on the transi-
tion team to make sure that its
actions are what is needed.
"This is a radical departure
from the past," Mr. Ziffer said.
"There is nothing else like it in
the country. Other cities are
watching what we do here. The
consortium is a think tank of
Jewish education with the best
and the brightest. It's a direct
link to the policy making of the
Agency for Jewish Education."
Some in the community say
the consortium and transition
team need to act quickly to
prove they are more than just
another committee. One educa-
tor said the consortium lacks the
heavy hitters with power and
money needed to make changes.
Another said he is skeptical, but
if the consortium was "standing
on its head" and got the job
done, that's all that counts.
"I would not change the con-
sortium if 10 people said that,"
Mr. Nachman said. "We weren't
looking for people with money
or that sort of power. We're look-
ing for people who are high pow-
ered in fields such as education."

Barbara Klarman, who
serves on the ME board and is
also a transition team member,
said it's too early to tell what the
difference in the delivery of ed-
ucational services will be.
"All of this is like a new era
for us," she continued. "My per-
sonal belief is that we were sit-
ting on a demographic disaster,
and we were just watching it
happen in the past. This is an
effort to do something dramat-
ic. Now we'll be reaching every-
one from Workman's Circle to
the Lubavitch. Our role now
won't be to tell people in educa-
tion what to do. Well listen now
to what they're asking."
The Giles Commission rec-
ommended that the Federation
get out of the business of teach-
ing elementary school children,
leaving that to the synagogues.
This came at a time when ME's
enrollment had dropped from
3,500 students and 11 school
branches in 1968 to 950 stu-
dents and three branches in
1992.
Ms. Klarman said it was her
sense that the AJE board is pre-
pared to support the new com-
mittees, and that she hasn't
heard a negative word .
Mr. Gelberd calls the changes
an input mechanism for a large
cross-section of the community.
He said that the consortium
brings reality to Jewish educa-
tion, that people with fresh and
current ideas "of the street" are
now in place.

7

"The days of all this
gobbledygook has
come to an end."

Howard Gelberd

Mr. Gelberd said the consor-
tium's agenda is varied. As an
example of a task, he said it
might want to take a look at a
specific issue, such as person-
nel.
"We don't have enough good,
dynamic, motivated people in
Jewish education," he said. "The
consortium can study how we
need to find them, how we mo-
tivate them, how we can make
Jewish education a more at-
tractive career choice. The con-
sortium is our fly on the wall,
our reality checker.
'These people will be rolling
up their sleeves and getting to
work. The days of studies and
needs assessments and com-
missions and all of this gob-
bledygook has come to an end.
Now we're talking programs
and kids.
'We should be done now talk-
ing about United Hebrew
Schools," he added. "It's over, it's
finished. We needed a new en-
ergy and a new vision and a new
chemistry to move this along. If
the consortium wants to make
change, if it wants to seize pow-
er, it can seize it." ❑

7

K

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