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June 14, 1996 - Image 42

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1996-06-14

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wife, Stephanie, is an English
teacher at West Bloomfield High
School. Daughters Lauren Jacob
and Heather Dorfman, a nursing
school student, are not part of
Dorfman Funeral Direction, but
Heather is toying with the idea,
says her father.
"I'll tell you, I would love it," he
says. "She's also a very compas-
sionate person."
Joining Doi fman Funeral Di-
rection, which Alan Dorfman
started in Berkley six years ago
after leaving Hebrew Memorial
Chapel as its longtime funeral di-
rector, did not present a career
conundrum for Jonathan.
He had considered going into
medicine — neurosurgery — but
physicians he knew warned him
about the financial and practical
struggles he would face. When
his father asked him to come on
board, he did.
"We just get along so fine,"
Alan says. "I'm very proud of
Jonathan following in my foot-
"I was never told how to do
things. We're all involved in the
decision making," Jonathan says.
Plus, "you can yell more," he
Unlike other funeral homes in
the city, Dorfman Funeral Di-
rection has no chapel on the
premises. Services are usually
held graveside or in a synagogue
or cemetery chapel. That way,
they say, they keep their over-
head low while providing "better''
'The two of us are always with
the family," Alan says. "It's just
a personal touch."
In their business, life lessons
are a staple of every work day.
"I've learned a lot about life
working here," says Jonathan,
26. "I kind of understand what's
important: Family, friends, the
people you care about. And it
takes a loss for most people to re-
alize that."
He recently earned a master's
degree in psychology, and he's
been running support groups for
bereaved people out of a clinic in
Birmingham. He plans at some
point to open a practice, although
he would continue to work at
Dorfman Funeral Direction.
"You're a counselor, you're a
mediator and you need skills to
z pull families through the
process," Jonathan says of his job.
Mortuary science is not for the
faint or hard of heart. It's the kind
of job you have to love. The Dorf-
' mans do.
Father and son tick off exam-
: pies of people who got rich — and
o miserable — after joining their
LLI family businesses.
"Every relationship is unique,"
Jonathan adds. "But you're in it
because you want to build a busi-
ness together. Don't do it for the


money. You have to feel you're ac-
complishing something."

Top: Alan and Jonathan Dorfman:
Family to family.


Above left: Pamela Opperer and
Claire Grosberg make sound

Claire Grosberg and Pam Op-
perer are accustomed to sharing.
Once it was cars and clothes.
Now it's a career.

Above right: Sandy, Gary and Lisa
Scholnick: Insuring the future.

On one side of their office, rich-
ly appointed in mauve and gray
accents and buffed wood and
leather, is Ms. Opperer's desk; on
the other side is her mother's.
"We've almost always worked
in the same office. I do a lot of lis-
tening. There's a lot of reading
each other's minds," Ms. Opper-
er says.
They share accounts, too, at
Prudential Securities in West

Bloomfield, where Ms. Grosberg
is first vice president of invest-
ments and Ms. Opperer is a fi-
nancial adviser. They've been
together for a dozen years.
Their partnership was born
more out of need than desire. Ms.
Opperer was a young mother and
didn't want a job, even though
she had grown up with a profes-
sional mom when most mothers


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