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September 06, 2002 - Image 18

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-09-06

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Other Voices

verybody puts their own
mark on their presidency,
- but he kind of established the
groundwork for all the educa-
tional initiatives that I was
able to institute, and gave me
something to work with.
"You don't start fresh as the
president of any organization.
You take with you what came
before you, and he gave me
some wonderful tools to move
forward in really enhancing our
community life in that way."


--- Penny Blumenstein,
Federation president, 1999-2001


e's the consummate
community leader
because he does it for all the
right reasons. There's no ego
involved because he wants to
give back to the community,
address the issues and come
up with the best solutions.
"He's very creative in his
approach to solutions, but he's
very empathetic with the elderly
and believes deeply that the key
to Jewish continuity is Jewish
education, and that motivates
him in what he does."

— David Page, Federation
president, 1993-95, and Butzel
Award recipient, 1999.


ederation under Naftaly's
1 'leadership began to real-
ize that we're trying to build a
Jewish community and the
synagogues are an important
part of that. If Federation
could get involved and help
synagogues improve them-
selves, then it's good for the
Jews. If it's good for the Jews,
then it's good for Federation."

-- Rabbi Paul Yedwab, Temple
Israel, and Michigan Board of
Rabbis president

cCialt ob Naftaly is a rare
L./combination — a man
of sensitivity, of great wit, of
deep intelligence who really
cares about our Jewish com-
munity and the Jewish com-
munity throughout the world.
His commitment to
Federation, and to all of his
other endeavors in the Jewish
community, comes from his
soul and that's why it has such
a warm, spiritual component."
— Mark Schlussel, Federation
president, 1989-92

9/ 6



The Model
f A 1Vientsh

Robert Nafialy is the natural pick for this year's Butzel Award.


Adat Shalom Synagogue in
Farmington Hills.
"He's very Solomonic in terms of
Federation," said Lawrence Jackier,
Federation president.
"He brings a calm, a reasoned
approach to things. He's been an
adviser to more Federation presidents
about how to deal with sticky, tricky
issues, and has been assigned very
tough things that require a great deal
of skill and understanding of the peo-
ple side of the issues."
Born in Detroit in 1938, Naftaly
said he didn't understand about the
Holocaust and what went on in
World War II until he was older.

graduating from Walsh College of
Accountancy in Detroit.
He raised a family of four, and now
I is after the weekday breakfast
he's the doting grandfather of three,
rush at the Gallery Restaurant,
Zachary, Emily and Benjamin.
across Telegraph Road from the
Anita, his wife of 11 years, said his
Max M. Fisher Federation
busy schedule doesn't shortchange the
Building in Bloomfield Township.
family in any way.
Busboys might be clearing tables —
"He's a master at multi-tasking; he
but Bob Naftaly is - still holding court.
can get so many more things accom-
Now retired, Naftaly, the former
plished than the average person, and
president and chief executive officer
he always finds time to make time
of PPOM, a subsidiary of Blue Cross
for his children and grandchildren;"
Blue Shield of Michigan, has traded
she said.
his business suit and high-powered
As Naftaly rose to success, the Jewish
office for a polo shirt and a seat at a
community benefited from his wisdom
four-top. It's where people can find
and his sense of "giving back." Being •
him when they need
actively involved in the
some advice.
Anti-Defamation League
"I don't have an
and Federation was his
office anymore," he
Way of being part of pro-
said, mumbling into
tecting the Jewish com-
his napkin. "They
munity, he said. "These
ought to charge me
were two vehicles where
I, as an individual, could
Robert Aronson,
feel I accomplished more
Jewish Federation of
than I could do as a per-
Metropolitan Detroit
CEO, knows him
His colleagues in the
-well. He says Naftaly
Jewish community also
possesses an "Aw,
benefited from his sense
shucks" style that
• of humor.
belies a skill of find-
"There can be so .
ing solutions to
much tension in a room,
complicated prob-
discussing such heavy
and serious issues, and
"He mumbles a lot
Bob has the ability with
and you can never
words to puncture
Bob Naftaly, right, with Menachem Hait of the Jewish Agency for
understand what he's
that tenseness and turn
saying, but he's one
the atmosphere around,"
of the best Jewish
said Abraham Foxman,
thinkers I have worked with,"
"I think a lot of us grew up with
ADL national director.
Aronson said. "He's an idea person,
`Never Again.' It's what drove me into
"He has been a wise friend, in
but he's also a nuts-and-bolts person,
activism •" he said.
terms of counseling and guidance,
he can sit down and figure out how
Naftaly's influence in Jewish causes
on ADL's administrative issues as
to make it happen."
came from his grandfather, Emil
well as communal issues and interna-
It's one of the reasons that Naftaly,
Kahan, treasurer of the local Jewish
tional issues.
Federation president from 1996-98,
National Fund and a president of
"He's the quintessential communi-
will receive Detroit Jewry's highest
Congregation Beth Moses, now part
ty leader," Foxman said of Naftaly,
communal award, the Fred M. Butzel
of Congregation Beth Ahm.
who serves as ADL's national treasur-
Award, on Tuesday, Sept. 10, at the
Naftaly didn't come from wealth or
er. "If the word mentsh weren't so
combined Federation and the United
power. He went to night school and
abused, he would be one of the
Jewish Foundation annual meeting at
became a certified public accountant,
unique models for what it entails."

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