WSU President Reid meets with three Jewish leaders
about the university's Syrian agreement.
n a meeting late last month with
three leaders of Detroit's Jewish
community, President Irvin D.
Reid of Wayne State University
downplayed the significance of the
agreement he signed Jan. 6 with Syria's
"He said he would not allow joint
projects to be used for anything but
nursing education [or] to be used for
anything that would threaten the
United States," said David Gad-Harf,
executive director of the Jewish
The meeting, held in Reid's Detroit
office at WSU on Feb. 21, also included
Robert Aronson, CEO of the Jewish
Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, and
Miriam Starkman, executive director of
WSU's Hillel of Metro Detroit.
The "Memorandum of
Understanding" with Syria calls for
"long-term educational and research
projects ... calling upon the broader
capabilities of each organization as
appropriate." There is no mention of
"President Reid gave us a considerable
amount of time," Gad-Harf said. "It
was an open exchange of opinions. We
very forcefully presented to him why
many people in the Jewish community
are concerned about this agreement."
According to Gad-Harf, "President
Reid has no illusions about the Syrian
regime: He truly believes in the power
of academic collaboration,. that such
collaboration can lead to a different
atmosphere between societies. When
the current Syrian regime ends, it can
lead to greater understanding and coop-
Healing Family Abuse
Jewish Women International assists domestic
violence victims here and in Israel.
ewish Women International,
formerly B'nai B'rith
Women, has come of age —
but the name change six
years ago caused an identity crisis of
"We want people to know we're
still here. We do exist and we're
thriving," says Cindy Moss of
Southfield, president of JWI Galilee
Chapter, one of eight chapters in the
Detroit metro area. Total member-
ship is more than 1,330 members.
There are 75,000 members world-
What hasn't changed is the organi-
zation's commitment to healing fami-
ly violence, especially by helping
children — and its ability to fund-
raise. Both skills were influential 60
years ago in the opening of the
Residential Treatment Center (RTC)
in Jerusalem 60 years ago.
"Once only for boys, the center has
expanded and houses about 50 boys
and girls who have been physically,
sexually or emotionally beaten,"
"It's remarkable to see these chil-
dren when they're first brought in
after being taken out of their parents'
home. They don't talk to anyone;
they're depressed. But through coun-
seling, they eventually become posi-
tive members of society."
She says that the center has healed
thousands of children who have been
scarred by family violence. The cen-
ter's success has lead to training part-
nerships with Yale University's Child
Study Center in New Haven, Conn.;
Baylor University in Waco, Texas;
and Israel's Ben-Gurion University in
JWI is also the sole supporter of
Esther's House, a shelter in Baltimore
for Jewish women and children
who've experienced domestic vio-
lence, says Gari Feldman of
"It was clear that he was unwilling to
curtail the agreement. We discussed
how Wayne State could strengthen its
involvement with Israeli universities."
The meeting also
focused on how WSU
and the Jewish communi-
ty could develop better
communications "so we
won't be hearing about
controversial matters after
the fact," Gad-Harf said.
"He assured us we
would be part of the con- Gad-Haif
sultation process should
the agreement be broadened beyond
Gad-Harf reported that Dr. Reid told
him the American embassy in Syria
approves of the pact. In an e-mail to the
Jewish News, a spokesman for the
Farmington Hills, local fund-raising
The local groups, which meet
monthly, support local families who
usually remain anonymous.
One woman beneficiary of JWI's
efforts, however, "who had been ter-
ribly battered by her husband," Moss
says, once came with her two daugh-
ters to a JWI Chanukah party to
openly tell her story of healing.
The chapter had taken the family
under its wing, which included buy-
ing computers for the children and a
washer and dryer and High Holiday
tickets for the mother and children.
"She said she had to come and
thank us for what we had done."
Moss says. "There wasn't a dry eye
once she spoke."
The evolution of the national and
local organization is a lesson in
patience and dedication.
The women's organization was
founded more than 100 years ago
<<to promote sociability for B'nai
B'rith members and their families,"
In 1943 B'nai Brith Women
founded the Children's Home (even-
tually RTC) in Jerusalem for victims
embassy said a recent law in Syria facili-
tates such an agreement.
While entry into Syria is not granted
to Israeli citizens, or to anyone with
passports bearing Israeli entry or exit
stamps, "there is nothing preventing a
Jew from any other country in the
world to enter Syria," the unsigned e-
mail states. "There is a distinction
drawn here between `Jew' and 'Israeli.'
One is welcome. The other is not.
Syrians say this often."
In recent weeks, Dr. Reid and his staff
have not responded to repeated calls
from the Jewish News.
In a recent letter to President Reid,
Milad A. Zohrad, president of the
Redford-based Assembly for Lebanon,
expressed that group's opposition to the
agreement, based on the human rights
record of Syria, both against its own cit-
izens and the Lebanese people, whose
country Syria occupies.
"My biggest concern is the fact that
the Syrian regime will utilize this agree-
ment for its own propaganda," he
wrote. "I have already heard from sever-
al sources in Lebanon that they are
already advertising this agreement as a
big victory for them." El
of family abuse.
B'nai B'rith Women would not be
given the right to vote at B'nai B'rith
conventions until 1950. But as the
times changed, so did B'nai B'rith
Women. In 1963, it became an
organization independent from the
The organization has found a
number of ways to both help and
honor women in need. On Mother's
Day, for example, through donations
made in honor of one's mother, JWI
sends flowers to women in battered
women's shelters around the country
as a show of support.
Currently, JWI is focusing on an
awareness program for Jewish teens.
JWI's brochure claims one in five
Jewish teens experiences abuse. The
program helps them to identify
abuse in their lives, what to do
about it and how not to suffer in
"We know family violence is in the
Jewish community and it's increas-
ing," Moss says. "Women are usually
very quiet about it. But when we
speak out more openly about these
things, Jewish women learn they're
not the only ones experiencing vio-
lence in the home. Then they can
begin to open up and change their