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October 18, 2002 - Image 41

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-10-18

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Dry Bones

Editorials are posted and archived on JN Online:



Granholm For Michigan


he debates issues with gusto and connects
easily with people, but Democrat Jennifer
Granholm brings something more impressive
to the race for governor: the potential to be a
political superstar.
The first-term state attorney general brings bolder
ideas, a new direction and a more engaging demeanor
to the campaign trail than her Republican opponent,
Lt. Gov. Dick Posthumus, a former state senator.
Posthumus has been a loyal public servant and a
consensus builder, but is too tied to Lansing's estab-
lished ways. Granholm is the better choice for
Michigan and the Jewish community.
We sense that her views on key issues, like human
services for the elderly, the renewal of
Detroit and enriched preschool learning —
and on policies that relate to taxes, educa-
tion, public health, roads, infrastructure and
the environment — are the ones resonating with the
majority of voters as state revenues fall and change
awaits in the executive office.
Progressive on social issues, moderate on economic
issues and deeply committed to her adopted state,
Granholm peers through the periscope of state gov-
ernment and sees a gateway to a better way of life.
She's a proven friend of the Jewish community —
personally and through an array of friendships,
acquaintances and advisers. She unequivocally
defends the right of Israel to defend itself militarily
against Arab aggression.
The Northville resident understands that a grow-
ing, prosperous Michigan — and Detroit — is vital
for all residents of this great state. In just four years,
she has built an impressive record as the state's chief

legal protector of citizen rights. She has battled
on behalf of consumer protection (like fighting
gas-station price gouging) and family causes
(like fighting for mentors for truant-children
and against ultra-violent video games). She
alSo has instituted a high-tech crimes unit.
When faced with a 5 percent budget cut,
she not only streamlined her department, but
also made it more efficient. She's much more
enamored with containing costs than raising
taxes, the other camp's TV commercials
notwithstanding. She'd strive to make the state
a partner to local school districts to help them
be more vigilant and proactive with budgeting.
Smart, worldly and charismatic,
Granholm, 43, is more apt than
Posthumus, 52, to spur greater
interest in state affairs among
women and young adults. She's more apt to
see and act outside the box.
The work of governor is limited in national
and international affairs. But as governor,
Granholm would display the drive, heart and
ties to make decisions that invigorate the eco-
nomic relationship between Michigan and
Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East.
She also would lead the way toward making our
core cities vibrant again: from market-based incen-
tives for developers of once-blighted land to giving
young people a reason to stay here rather than
to Chicago, Boston or other "hip" cities.
As governor, Granholm would go the extra mile to
serve Michiganians honestly and openly. A spirit of
cooperation would mark her administration, even


Counting As Jews

also those who said they were ethnically or culturally
Jewish and those who gave no religion but said they
had been raised as Jews, had a Jewish parent or for-
ccording to the latest demographic studies,
merly practiced Judaism.
there are either 5.2 million Jews in
. It even included a small number of people who
America or 6.1 million or 6.7 million and
said they were Jewish even if they adhered to other
maybe an additional 6 million who could
be at least vaguely affiliated because they are mar-
The lower number comes from a $6 million effort
ried to Jews or live with a Jewish relative.
by the United Jewish Communities, the staid
What other ethnic or religious group in
national umbrella under which local
the U.S. could- be so confused about itself
Jewish federations and agencies tend to
as are Jews? We can't even get a good han-
huddle. It included those who said they
dle on how many of us there are.
had no religion but had a Jewish parent or
Ten years ago, we counted at least 5.5
a Jewish upbringing, but omitted a lot of
million American Jews in a survey that drew atten-
Tobin's categories of marginal connection.
tion, not for its overall totals but because it con-
Its result was particularly troubling because, using
firmed that a high rate of intermarriage was appar-
essentially the same methodology as the 1990 sur-
ently weakening Jewish identity. But within the last
vey, its 5.5 million total showed a drop of 300,000
few weeks, conflicting estimates by professional
Jews at a time of 10 percent overall American popu-
demographers are shifting the debate again.
lation growth. Not only are we, by any accounting,
The higher numbers were found by Gary Tobin of no more than 2 percent of the total population —
the San Francisco-based Institute for Jewish &
about half as numerous as Asians, a sixth of the
Community Research, who said it shows that "Jews
numbers of African Americans or Hispanic
have been systematically undercounted for decades."
Americans — we are also clearly aging and repro-
His embracive method counted as Jews not only
ducing less frequently.
those affiliated with the established movements, but
The conflicting total population figures pose a
difficult dilemma for Jewish leadership trying to set
Related story: page 39
priorities for communal efforts to improve Jewish



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with a Republican-controlled Legislature. There is no
hint this former assistant U.S. attorney from Detroit
would ever resort to the politics of manipulation.
A dreamer,. a realist and a leader, Jennifer
Granholm would dare to be different amid these
tough economic times exasperated by 9-11. She
would represent our hopes and interests with integri-
ty, accountability and inspiring doses of mettle and
Vote Granholm on Nov. 5.

life. Should they accept the smaller figure and con-
centrate efforts on this older, closely affiliated core
constituency? Or should they react to the potential
to make Jewish life and practice more attractive and
interesting to those on the margins?
Given the structures of leadership — generally
older themselves, sensitive to the demographics of
who actually contributes the money — it seems
likely that there will be constant pressure to increase
service to the core constituency, with less communal
funding for outreach and more for the elderly.
But any massive reshuffling of priorities would be
a tragic prescription for further loss of a strong, new
generation of American Jews. We need to redouble
efforts for youngsters and teens by maintaining sup-
port for Jewish education, including schools, camps
and college programs. It would be a calamity to
accept the notion that the waning of formal connec-
tion, largely powered by the success of our assimila-
tion into general American life, cannot be changed.
Whether we are 5.5 or 6.7 million is less-impor-
tant than that we continue to reach out, particular-
ly to young people, but also to those on the near
margins — the spouses of the intermarried, for
example, and those whose parents were Jewish. We
don't have to proselytize, but we would be foolish
to lose people who already have one foot in the
camp. ❑



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