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January 26, 1996 - Image 8

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1996-01-26

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HIAS Exhibit Will Teach Us
The Immigration Experience

case for our grandparents, the heritage that en-
riches us as Jews would shine a little less.
But to really see and feel the experience, a Feb.
4 swearing-in ceremony at Beth Achim will show
all of us that immigrating to a new country, and
a welcoming Detroit Jewish community, is all
very real.
Yes, history has shown us that immigration
has been about coming to America with Old-
Country accents, struggle and, ultimately, suc-
cess. Those victories are as valid in 1996 as they
were in 1896. Immigration is about history, but
it is also part of our Jewish mosaic. It is real and
it is now.
If your family is blessed enough to have grand-
parents who immigrated to the United States,
take them to these BIAS events. Watch them re-
live through the photographs and swearing-in
their own experience. But don't leave it at that.
Make sure your children are there. They need,
as do all of us, to understand that these are re-
ally photos of ourselves and our future genera-
tions.

Men, women, children, our relatives and friends
have quite literally created American Jewish so-
ciety. We tend to think in terms of the Ellis Is-
land experience, the crowded tenements and
lively narrow streets of New York City when we
talk about immigration.
But for immigrants such as Boris Smolyar,
profiled on this week's Up Front page, the expe-
rience of coming to a new land in search of reli-
gious and economic freedom is brand-new. We
as Detroit Jews cannot lose sight that the im-
migration experience is fresh and contemporary.
HIAS, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, is
a huge reason why the Jewish immigrant ex-
perience remains an essential part of our story
as a people. Saturday evening, BIAS will begin
a series of events that will remind and teach us
of the ongoing importance of Jewish resettle-
ment.
An important part will be a speech given by
Martin Wenick, executive vice president of BIAS,
who will talk about legislative attempts to re-
duce the rate of immigration. Had this been the

Letters

An Ethical
Responsibility

Detroit or the suburbs, our com-
munity has not embraced the hos-
pital founded to meet its needs.
As a Sinai Hospital employee
and member of this Jewish corn-
munity, I have great pride and sat-
isfaction in being part of a Jewish
hospital. I look at Sinai as my
roots. I was born there, I had two
of my three children there, and I
look to Sinai physicians for med-
ical assistance.
Walking through this hospital,
with signs and symbols of my cul-
ture and religion, I am reminded
of the reason for the creation of a
Jewish hospital: to overcome anti-
Semitism and to provide opportu-
nity for its Jewish physicians.
It is time for the members of
the Jewish community to recon-
sider its actions. I believe it is our
duty to support Sinai Hospital,
seek out its physicians and uti-
lize its services. It is our ethical
responsibility.

"Sinai's Rebirth" (Jan. 12) ad-
dressed a familiar problem in the
metropolitan Detroit Jewish com-
munity: an ambivalence toward
Sinai Hospital. All too often, Jew-
ish communal institutions — such
as community centers, schools and
synagogues — are established, uti-
lized and then discarded as people
leave for more affluent areas of
suburban life.
While believing in individual
freedom to choose one's physi-
cians and hospitals, I also believe
that this disposable approach to
our Jewish institutions is ethi-
cally wrong.
I agree with the statements of
Mr. Phillip Schaengold that the
Jewish community is ambivalent
toward Sinai Hospital. Despite the
c ; hospital's intense efforts to serve
the Jewish community either in

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Life Sentence

I read with much dismay Daniel
Natow's Letter to the Editor (Jan.
19) in response to David Zeman's
article, "Prisons Try to Snuff the
Lights of Freedom" (Jan. 5).
Why should Mr. Natow be sur-
prised that The Jewish News
would carry an article depicting
a major victory for his Jewish
brethren, one akin to the very
miracle of Chanukah, which
these Jews were trying to cele-
brate. In other words, this was
truly a newsworthy story.
I agree that the 51 inmates in
Michigan correctional facilities
statewide do indeed deserve to be
incarcerated. They have been
tried by their peers and found
guilty of serious crimes. They de-
serve to be treated as prisoners
with limited freedoms and no lux-
uries
I disagree, however, with him

.

LIFE page 23

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F ,i
EL
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YEZ -s110 ALL THINGS
CONSIDERED, This i 5711.1.
GREATEST EXKAMENT
IN DEMOcRACY
ARAB WORLD!

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7

• a

Opinion

Yad Ezra's Growth
Reflects The Needs

-4

RICHARD A. BARR SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH NEWS

Walking through
the aisles of a su-
permarket late
one night, little
did Michael
Eizelman know
that he was in-
volved in the
grass-roots effort
of what would six
years later become the monthly
provider of food supplements for
more than 1,000 Jewish families
in the Detroit area.
But as Mr. Eizelman searched
for good deals on tuna fish so that
Yad Ezra's initial clients would
receive nutritious food packages
the next day, Yad Ezra's true
character as the quintessential
grass-roots organization was tak-
ing shape.
Yad Ezra now prepares to be-
gin its seventh year of service to
the Detroit Jewish community.
During its first six years, Yad
Ezra distributed over 45,000
packages containing 1.8 million
pounds of food to needy Jews. Yet
remarkably, Yad Ezra has stayed
true to its roots and maintains
a bare-bones organization that is
the envy of other food-providing
charities.
Consider this: During Yad
Ezra's first year (1990), it dis-
tributed 2,505 packages to ap-
proximately 250 families who
benefited from the dedicated ser-
vice of Yad Ezra's two initial full-
time employees and many
volunteers. Cases of food were de-
livered to Yad Ezra's basement-
level offices through an open
window.
Six years later, Yad Ezra
serves more than four times the
number of families it helped in
1990, providing over 11,000 pack-
ages annually to 1,100 families
from its modest Oak Park offices.
This incredible growth has been
accomplished by adding only 1
1/2 additional employees, who
keep Yad Ezra open six days a

Richard Barr is immediate past

president of Yad Ezra.

week to serve our community.
The "mean and lean" Yad Ezra
has not forgotten its humble
roots. Yad Ezra's staff and even
its volunteers still search for the
best deals available when ac-
quiring the 500,000 pounds of
food it will distribute to needy
Jews in 1996, although late-night
walks through the supermarket
are no longer a practical way to
acquire such a huge amount of
food.
Community-wide food drives,
such as the annual Kol Nidre food
collection and the food-of-the-
month program at local religious
and day schools, have been de-
veloped as important sources of
donated food. Yet despite the in-
credible effort put forth by many
volunteers in collecting donated
food, Yad Ezra still must pur-
chase over 90 percent of its food
supplies.
Through an area-wide food
bank network, Yad Ezra acquires
bulk quantities of food at deep-
discount prices. Food manufac-
turers donate or sell at greatly
reduced prices surplus food to
food banks such as the Food
Bank of Oakland County. They
in turn distribute the food to food
pantries, including Yad Ezra.
Yad Ezra also obtains surplus
prepared food from Forgotten
Harvest for distribution to Yad
N
Ezra clients.
Even after taking advantage
of low-cost food sources, Yad Ezra
still has to spend over $250,000
per year to acquire necessary nu-
tritious food for its clients. Each
month, Yad Ezra clients are pro-
vided a well-balanced food pack-
age that supplements other food
sources available to the families.
As Yad Ezra enters its seventh
year, it is redoubling its efforts to
serve the large number of cur-
rently unidentified needy in the
Detroit Jewish community. Al-
though Yad Ezra volunteers de-
liver food to families who are
unable to pick up their food pack- EY\
ages from Yad Ezra's Oak Park

YAD EZRA page 24

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