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December 06, 2002 - Image 59

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-12-06

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Bacow downplays the importance of the
"The 16 faculty members out of 800 who
signed the petition never presented it to
me," he said. "To put it in context, 16 facul-
ty members will sign a petition of almost
any type on most any campus."
The petition, which also was circulated
among Harvard University faculty, prompt-
ed Harvard's president Lawrence H.
Summers, who also is Jewish [see related
story] to call such actions in a speech "anti-
Michigan Connections
Semitic in their effect."
Quoted in the New York Times, Bacow
A sense of Judaism always has pervaded Bacow's life.
applauded the statement.
The son of immigrants, Bacow's father, Mitchell,
"University presidents ought to raise
left Minsk as a child. He now lives in Boca
important questions and I think he has,"
Raton, Fla. His mother, Ruth, was a Holocaust
Bacow said of Summers. Bacow added that
survivor. She was in the German death camp
he, too, was concerned about signs of a sig-
Auschwitz and lost her immediate family.
nificant rise in anti-Semitism on campuses.
Her aunt and uncle, Max and Tekla Adler, left
Bacow still continues to condemn the
Germany before the war and settled in Detroit.
divestment movement. Speaking at the Oct.
Bacow's mother sailed to America on the first
27 Hillel ceremonies in Washington, he-
Liberty Ship (prefabricated cargo vessels), and
said, "I believe the divestiture petition and
came to Detroit to live with her relatives.
those who support it actually seek to quash
"She met my father in Detroit and married
open and vigorous debate and not to
him, and they moved to Pontiac. I still remember
encourage it, and that's antithetical to what
our address: 34 Cherokee Road," recalled Bacow
we stand for as academic institutions."
in a telephone interview with the Jewish News.
But yet another challenge was looming in
"My grandparents, Jacob and Rachel Bacow,
the shadows. Beginning in August, former
lived near Vassar and Outer Drive [in Detroit].
Dartmouth College President James
They belonged to Adas Shalom," he said.
Freedman, who also is Jewish [see related
Several members of Bacow's family still reside
story] and several other university presidents
in Oakland County. His aunt and uncle, Evelyn
drafted a six-paragraph statement they
and Lou Grant, live in Farmington Hills as do
began circulating among college presidents
his other aunt and uncle, Martin and Sarah
Adele and Lawrence Bacow
for signature in October.
Bacow. Of his five cousins, Joel and Dineen
The statement was a response to a clash
Bacow live in Huntington Woods, Linda and
between pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian supporters at
at Wayne State University in Detroit. His father
Steven Munson are in Orchard Lake and Ronald
San Francisco State University in August. At that
endowed the annual Lenore Marwil Jewish Film
Grant resides in Southfield.
time, one student allegedly said Hitler should have
Festival through the Jewish Community Center of
"I get back to Detroit for either family events or
killed all Jews.
Metropolitan Detroit.
for work," Bacow said.
The statement for university presidents called for
"I remember that once [Bacow] was national sail-
After Bacow's sophomore year at Pontiac Central
ing champion, small boat class. I said, 'What do you colleges to maintain "academic standards in the
High School in 1967, the family moved to Pine
mean you're national champion?' He took me sailing classroom" and "sustain an intimidation-free cam-
Lake in West Bloomfield, where they were one of
pus." But it was that part of the statement decrying
at Pine Lake and taught me how to sail. He contin-
the pioneering Jewish families. Bacow graduated
"death threats and threats of violence" against Jewish
ued to impress me as he moved through life.
from the school district's Andover High School in
students and supporters of Israel that led Bacow to
. "He was meant for this kind of position all along,"
Bloomfield Hills.
refuse to sign the petition, saying, "it was cast far
said Dr. Marwil of his friend's post with Tufts. "Yet as
He received his undergraduate degree in econom-
he has moved from honor to honor, he remains a very too narrowly.
ics from MIT, his juris doctor from Harvard Law
However, 300 university presidents, including 15
down-to-earth person. He has remained Larry to me:"
School and his master's of public policy degree and
New England college presidents, did sign the state-
Dr. Marwil moved in 1978 to Providence, which
Ph.D. from Harvard's Kennedy School of
" ment, which by then was being circulated around
is "just down the road from Boston," he said. "My
the country by the American Jewish Committee. It
wife, Ivy, who is from Philadelphia, is a marathon
Thinking back to high school, Bacow recalls that
was ultimately published in the New York Times as
runner and she and Larry are talking about running
"USY (United Synagogue Youth) was my primary
an advertisement in late October.
the Boston Marathon together in April."
activity. I was regional treasurer of the Central
So why didn't Bacow sign?
Region of USY in 1968-69. The regional vice presi-
"A number of presidents did not sign the peti-
dent was Danny Marwil of Huntington Woods."
Divestment Stand
tion," Bacow said. "While it expressed concern
"Danny" is now Dr. Daniel Marwil, a develop-
about the rise of anti-Semitism on some college
mental pediatrician in Providence, R.I., who remem- Shortly after arriving at Tufts, Bacow found himself
campuses, I felt the statement was not nearly as
in the middle of a controversy over Israel. A story in
bers that he and Bacow "became pretty good friends
inclusive as should have been."
Time magazine called the Tufts campus a hot bed on
right off the bat. We were in the summer camp pro-
Bacow said he feels the overall effect of the state-
the issue of divesting investments in Israel. That
gram in ninth grade. We remained friendly through
ment could be divisive on some campuses because it
report was prompted by 16 faculty members who
our high school years and were teenage friends
didn't address the issue of intimidation of Arab or
signed a petition asking that universities' endow-
together, doing whatever teenagers do.
Muslim students.
"He was always impressive from an early age," said ments not include investments in Israel until Israel
complied with United Nations human rights resolu-
Dr. Marwil, son of the late Lenore and Milton
Marwil, whose father had owned Marwil Book Store tions.
MR. PRESIDENT on page 61

Charlie and Lynn Schusterman International
Center in Washington," said Rabbi Summit.
He added that "President BacoW spoke about
the importance of Hillel on campus with a deep
level of knowledge and understanding of the
place Hillel plays in building Jewish commitment
and leadership among Jewish college student&
When the Bacows are not at their regular syn-
agogue, the Conservative Temple Emanuel in
Newton, "it's wonderful to have them join us at
Hillel," the rabbi said.





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