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January 20, 1995 - Image 1

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1995-01-20

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

I

INSIDE: CUISINE/THE PREMIERE ISSUE; DETROIT/ARM IN ARM;
BUSINESS/ FIELDHOUSE OF DREAMS; CAMP GUIDE II/ HIGH IN THE SKY

750

DETROIT

THE JEWISH NEWS

19 SHEVAT 5755/JANUARY 20, 1995

Discontinuation of normal
JCC library operations part
of cost cutting plan.

Bucking The Book?

he Jewish Community
Center last week an-
nounced that its library
in West Bloomfield will
shut down Feb. 1 un-
less volunteers come to
the rescue.
Douglas Bloom,
president of the
Center's board, said the
decision to discontinue normal library op-
erations is part of a larger, cost-cutting
plan to rid the Center of its projected
$450,000 deficit for 1995.
"These are painful times for us," he
says. 'The board is very distressed at mak-
ing any changes that limit services."
The 11,000-volume, 2,350-square-foot
Henry and Delia Meyers Memorial
Library; founded 20 years ago, annually
circulates about 10,000 books to individ-

and school groups. It contains out-of-
print Jewish texts, as well as new publi-
cations, periodicals, cassettes and video-
tapes.
Expenditures — which include staff
salaries, lighting and maintenance — to-
tal more than $12,000 annually, but the
library generates no direct revenue, Mr.
Bloom says. In light of declining health
club membership, the board felt as though
it had little choice but to close the library
down.
He stresses that the library will not be
dismantled. The room will remain. The
books will remain there. Chris Lewis, the
cultural arts director, will take special re-
quests for materials.
But for doors to stay open on a regu-
lar basis, about six volunteers must be
willing to dedicate several hours a week.
Currently, the library is open from 10

iinls

Synagogue minyan will
include women.

RUTH LITTMANN STAFF WRITER

RUTH LITTMANN STAFF WRITER

Ann Parker and
Tillie Lantor
worry about the
library's fate.

Count Her In

a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays and Sundays.

On Jan. 16, Ann Parker and Hanita
Blum, the two part-time librarians,
learned they would be out of a job in less
than a month. Ms. Parker expressed con-
cern about what closing down will mean
for those who use the library.
"It would be a tragedy because we get
children from all over the community,"
she said.
Ms. Parker, who has staffed the library
for a decade, says it also caters to the
preschool at the Center, recreational read-
ers, researchers and retirees.
"I'm in shock," says Gloria Freedland,
a Center member. "How can they have a
Jewish Center without a Jewish library?
It just doesn't make sense to me."
Mr. Bloom says it has to do with fi-
nancial reality.
"Health club membership," he says "has
been declining. It's been declining na-
tionally, and yet we continue to be asked
to provide more Jewish services which
generate no revenue.
`The things that make us a Jewish cen-
ter and not just a health club are the items
that cost money as opposed to generating
income."
Mr. Bloom hopes enough Jews will
demonstrate support for continued Jewish
programming by joining the Center and
attending its events.
"The (metro Detroit Jewish) communi-
ty has to figure out," he says "what they
want the Jewish Center to be." ❑

You're
New
To Town?

What it's like to be a strange
face in Detroit's Jewish
community.

RUTH LITTMANN STAFF WRITER

Story on page 48

contents on page 3

111

aida Simon of Southfield said
Kaddish for a year after her fa-
ther died, but sometimes there
wasn't enough to make a
minyan. On such occasions, the
Shaarey Zedek congregants
were sent home.
"We had 10 people, but not 10 men. It
made me feel like I wasn't important," she
says.
Jewish law requires a quorum of 10
adult Jews to conduct certain communal
prayers, like Kaddish. Orthodox Jews do
not count women in a minyan, while
Reform Jews always have.
Conservative congregations have long
debated the issue. Last month, the head
of metro Detroit's largest Conservative
synagogue announced his congregation
is about to make a change.
Beginning this Purim, Shaarey Zedek
will begin to count women in the minyan.
"It's about time," Ms. Simon says.
The Conservative movement's
Rabbinical Assembly in 1973 sanctioned
the practice of counting women in
minyans, but left the decision up to each
rabbi.
In Detroit, Congregation Beth Shalom,
led by Rabbi David Nelson, adopted the
practice almost immediately after the
Assembly's decision. Until now, no other
Conservative synagogue in town has fol-
lowed suit.
Some local Conservative rabbis con-
tend the law is clear: no women. They
explain that forming a minyan for prayer,
which men are obligated to do at specif-
ic times during the day, falls into the cat-
egory of "time-bound" commandments.
Certain people are obligated to say cer-
tain prayers at certain times.
Outside of lighting Shabbat candles,
women are obligated to participate in few
time-bound practices. Torah scholars rea-
soned that the obligation of daily com-
munal prayer would interfere with
women's other responsibilities, such as
caring for the family.
In Jewish law, where there is no obli-
gation for an individual to take part in
worship, there is no basis for counting
that person in the minyan, some rabbis
say.
Rabbis in opposition to the
Conservative movement's 1973 ruling
also argue that counting women in
minyans would disrupt a tradition to
which many congregants have grown ac-
customed over decades of religious ob-
servance. Tradition, they note, is an
important part of Judaism which cannot

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