A Central Address
Detroit Jewry's education services to be combined under the Federation umbrella.
implementing body in another, things fall between
the cracks," said Harlene Appelman, the Alliance's
executive director. "We're trying to fill in the cracks."
Blumenstein added, "By working together, we can
deliver more quickly from plan to action."
The realignment was not motivated by cost cut-
ting. "Every care will be taken to treat current
employees fairly. As the restructured department
evolves into its new roles and responsibilities,
staffing adjustments will be made that reflect the
department's efforts to provide excellence in its serv-
ices to the community," according to a Federation
Appelman will direct the newly combined depart-
ment, which will keep the Alliance name. Rabbi Judah
Isaacs, AJE's top staff professional since 1998, will be
Appelman's "right-hand man," Blumenstein said.
the blending of about $2 million in annual operat-
ing budgets plus numerous endowment funds.
Many organizational details, both lay and profes-
hen local Jews gather to revitalize their
sional, must be addressed.
worship and learning experiences
"We'll also begin studying the educational issues
through Synagogue 2000, they are
— looking to keep our eyes on the big picture,"
taking part in a program of the
Alliance for Jewish Education, a department of the
Although the traditional role of Jewish federations
Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit.
is fund-raising and oversight of constituent agencies,
When a family educator from Jewish Experiences
federations elsewhere have occasionally taken on
For Families (JEFF) teaches toddlers about Shabbat,
operational roles. In Detroit, the Alliance will now
or adults study through the Melton Adult Mini-
assume operational responsibilities until now associ-
School, the recipients are enjoying programs of the
ated with the AJE.
Agency for Jewish Education of Metropolitan . Detroit,
"There are times when entities examine their roles
an independent, Federation-supported agency.
and redesign or consolidate," said Barry Swartz, vice
In a unanimous vote on Jan. 23, the combined
president of UJC Consulting in New York, a service
boards of the Jewish Federation and its investment
of United Jewish Communities, which represents
arm, the United Jewish
North American federa-
Foundation, agreed in
principle to realign the
Swartz, a former execu-
functions and program-
tive director of the Jewish
ming of the Alliance and
Community Center in
the Agency (AJE) into
Windsor, Ontario, said,
one Federation depart-
"In Knoxville, Tenn., a
much smaller communi-
This action represents
ty, the Jewish
the first time the Detroit
Federation has both
absorbed an independent
their boards, making
agency and become a direct provider of services.
"When vision and reality come together, you
Federation a provider of services."
The AJE board had approved the realignment at a
know that you can make progress," she said.
The transition to Federation's newly realigned
meeting held Jan. 20, and the Alliance committee
Rabbi Isaacs said that even though the AJE is being department will be nearly seamless, said Alter, a
was informed of the vote at its Jan. 21 meeting.
absorbed into the Alliance, its strengths as a shaper of Detroit-based attorney and a Federation vice president.
The action will create a centralized agency for both
programming will continue. "To my mind, the fact
"In the near future, the average member of the
planning and implementing educational services.
that Federation wants official sponsorship of this
Jewish community will not see changes — except
A transition team with representatives from all
program is a testament to the AJE's professional lead- perhaps in signage. Where they once saw 'Agency for
facets of the community's educational leadership will ership, its lay leadership and all our volunteers. "
Jewish Education,' they'll now see 'Alliance for
work out details of the realignment. The team is
Lisa Soble Siegmann, JEFF director, said the AJE
expected to have its work implemented by June 1.
staff hopes the realignment will be "a great change
"Because most services are provided by the syna-
"The strategic plan for realignment is to build on
for us all."
gogues through their schools, it is from those entities
the capabilities and resources of the two organiza-
"Judah Isaacs has created a wonderful team of
that people will see changes most directly," Alter said.
tions that essentially share the same mission, and
people who really love working for the Agency," she
"Over time, there will be a strong, more united voice."
that is to provide the community with the best
said. "He is incredibly knowledgeable, incredibly
Jewish educational opportunities possible," said
Penny Blumenstein, co-chair of Federation's Alliance
and immediate past president of Federation.
Appelman listed four areas of focus for the newly
A Time Of Transition
Lay leadership for the reconstituted Alliance will
"First, we will work to create seamless operating
come from Blumenstein, her current co-chair, Peter
apparatus to deliver the very best, cutting-edge educa-
Jewish education services in metropolitan Detroit
Alter, and current AJE President Arthur M.
tion to the community that we possibly can," she said.
have been divided between the Alliance and the AJE
Then technology initiatives will be tackled. "Every
since 1998. The Alliance's mission was to provide a
Alter and Horwitz will head the transition team;
afternoon school in this community has a computer
planning blueprint for Jewish education; the AJE,
other members have not yet been named.
laboratory we put there [through Michigan Jewish
formed in 1992 after the break-up of United
"The expectation is that this group will act expe-
Online Education], but the potential has not been
Hebrew Schools, became the educational support
ditiously, moving from input to feedback to imple-
maximized," she said. She said all congregations
arm and service provider.
mentation," said Horwitz, publisher of the Jewish
with- schools would be connected to Federation
"When there's a planning body in one place and an News and president of Jewish Renaissance Media,
through the Intranet and the Internet.
parent company of the Southfield-based JIV.
Also of immediate concern is professional develop-
Related editorial: page 35
Among the challenges the transition team faces is
ment for teachers.