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October 27, 1995 - Image 3

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1995-10-27

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

THE JEW
Aii
c n girl NEWS

UP FRONT

This Week's Top Stories

Not Just The
`Jewish' Center

SAMIINIZIa;:gaga=t', , VMSMENNMENEMEAVEIMMEMAIMM.t.

mamowt . r.

After 62 years of closed membership,
gentiles are eligible for membership.

JENNIFER FINER STAFF WRITER

T

he JCC board of direc-
tors voted unanimously
Oct. 18 to end its long
history of operating as
an exclusively Jewish
club. Now anyone, Jew
or gentile, can join as a
health-club or general member.
A health-club membership at
the Jewish Community Center
of Metropolitan Detroit entitled
members to a personalized lock-
er, laundry service, exercise
equipment and the opportunity
to work out or hang out in an all-
Jewish environment. But the
JCC and its leadership, which
has been no stranger to change
during the course of this year, re-
voked its longstanding member-
ship policy last week after
debating the issue for some time.
Before reaching a final deci-
sion, Center officials did not seek
input from Center members be-
cause, they said, their board is
comprised of JCC members.
"This (open membership) is
something we've been studying
for a while," said Harry M. Eisen-
berg, the first-vice president of
the JCC. "A few years ago, when
we became the only center re-
maining (in the United States)
with our (Jewish only) policy, we
began to look at the impact such
a change had on other centers."
JCC leadership said that,
among other reasons, they de-
cided to change policy to bring
Detroit's JCC in line with other
centers.
"Individuals were using our
programs but could not be mem-
bers," said Leah Ann Kleinfeldt,
the executive director of the JCC.
"If they could attend functions,
why were they denied member-
ship?"
Center officials said the deci-
sion was also made to avoid any
potential legal conflicts that could
accompany a Jewish-only policy.
"Anyone who wants to be crit-
ical is going to be critical," said
JCC President Douglas Bloom.
"I have no answers. Some will
say, 'Good for you'; others may
ask questions. In the end, the
Jewish Community Center will
still be the Jewish Community
Center."

Sol Greenfield, the associate
executive director of the Jewish
Community Centers Association,
the umbrella agency for North
American JCCs, said an open
membership policy eliminates
the suggestion that a Jewish cen-
ter is elitist or discriminatory.
"It's possible Detroit will pick
up a few members although the
percentage of non-Jews who join
is very low because JCCs are
seen as instruments for Jewish
identity and places for Jews," Mr.
Greenfield said.
Detroit officials said their de-
cision was not based on financial
needs, although earlier this year
the JCC announced a projected
$450,000 deficit.
"We want to maximize use of
our programs and services," Ms.
Kleinfeldt said. "It's not for fi-
nancial reasons. If it were, we'd
be advertising in every newspa-
per."
Now, as a nonsectarian
agency, the Center will be eligi-
ble for grants from several foun-
dations that do not fund sectarian
agencies. Ms. Kleinfeldt said
while this was not the motivation
for a changed policy, the Center
will pursue grant opportunities
that were unavailable in the past.

"Our mission
has not changed."

— Leah Ann Kleinfeldt

"Our mission has not
changed," Ms. Kleinfeldt said.
"We will still be the Jewish
Community Center. And we will
continue our mission to help all
Jews experience the richness of
Jewish tradition and make Ju-
daism a part of our lives."
Officials from the Jewish Fed-
eration of Metropolitan Detroit
said Federation backs the JCC's
decision.
"Their internal operations are
not going to change our level of
support or enthusiasm for the
JCC," said Allan Nachman, chair
of Federation's JCC review team.
Detroit's JCC is the last cen-

JEWISH CENTER page 12

f

F

,

A Growing Agency, A Growing Need

Jeannette Eizelman and Ellen Goldman have helped the community's kosher
food facility meet a rising need.

PHIL JACOBS EDITOR

HB."
These aren't the initials
of a savings and loan or a
baseball statistical catego-

ry.
This is a code that Jeannette
Eizelman's mother, Rebecca,
would whisper in her ear when
unexpected guests were over for
Shabbat dinner.
FHB stood for "family hold
back." It meant don't eat as
much, allowing the guests to
have their fill. And those that
knew Jeannette's mom under-
stood that those guests were usu-
ally the poor, who would
otherwise go without a warm
Sabbath soup or piece of chicken.
For Ellen Goldman, the code
came in a different form. While
working as the administrator for
a temple in Westport, Conn., she
had a conversation with a Torah
scribe. Ms. Goldman explained
that she wanted to do something
different, perhaps more impor-
tant with her life. She wanted di-
vine inspiration. The scribe was
encouraging. Soon, Ms. Goldman
learned of the position opening
for executive director of Yad Ezra.
Three months ago, she was ap-
pointed its head. "Yad Ezra"

Truckloads of food collected during Yad Ezra's Yom Kippur drive.

means the hand of Ezra. Ezra
was a scribe.
Two different paths, two dif-
ferent stories. Jeannette Eizel-
man, Yad Ezra's founding
director, and Ellen Goldman, her
successor, both,eitaed up at the
same address.
Based on the statistics and the
everyday needs of this kosher

food pantry, it's most difficult to
believe that Yad Ezra has only
been around for five years. The
work of its volunteers, directors
and everyone else associated with
this organization will be cele-
brated at Yad Ezra's annual din-
ner, 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 1,
at B'nai Moshe. Howard, Susan,
AGENCY page 12

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