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June 20, 2003 - Image 15

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-06-20

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dealings with companies operated by Jews?"
In his book Henry Ford and the Jews: The Mass
Production of Hate (Public Affairs), Jewish author
Neil Baldwin theorizes that Ford developed a hatred
for Jews while studying McGuffey's Eclectic Readers,
which contained Shakespeare's The Merchant of
Venice, relating the antics of Shylock, the Jewish
money-lender.
Rabbi Leo Franklin of Temple Beth El, one of sev-
eral Jews with whom Ford carried on puzzling rela-
tionships over the years, even organized a national
lobbying effort to eliminate the teaching of The
Merchant of Venice in public schools.
Ford and Rabbi Franklin were neighbors on
Detroit's Edison Street near Woodward before Ford
built his legendary Fair Lane Estate in Dearborn.
Ford tried to curry the rabbi's favor by giving him a
Model T car as "just a gift to a friend," which Rabbi
Franklin accepted. He then gave the car back to
Ford after Ford reprinted The Protocols of the
Learned Elders of Zion, an anti-Semitic document
spelling out alleged secret plans of Jewish leaders
seeking to attain world domination, in his newspa-
per. Rabbi Franklin was head rabbi at Temple Beth
El from 1899-1941 and died at 78 in 1948.
"And how about Albert Kahn?" asks Kreipke.
Kahn, the son of a German rabbi, was dubbed,
deservedly so, as "Henry Ford's architect." He was as
important to the field of architecture as Henry Ford
was to the automotive world. They were both
workaholics and shared a mutual business respect
for each other despite their religious differences.
Kahn designed and built the Ford family homes,
plus hospitals, schools and museums, and about
1,000 plants worldwide. This included Ford's
Highland Park plant, home of the Model T, and the
600-acre Rouge complex that recently underwent a
$2 billion renovation, including a new visitor center
and factory roof gardens.
Al Rothenberg of West Bloomfield, a Jewish
retired automotive journalist, recalls a eulogy Ford
gave for Kahn, who died at 80 in 1942: "Albert
Kahn was one of the best men I ever knew. The
fruits of his genius are in every part of the world. He
was a man of fine taste, the soul of integrity, a pub-
lic-spirited citizen and absolutely loyal to principle."

Old Henry's Impact

Hymie Cutler, 80, of Detroit, a longtime activist in
the Jewish community, wants to make sure Jews
remember Henry Ford's anti-Semitism, although he
agrees Henry Ford II and other Ford family mem-
bers tried their best to rectify the elder Ford's mis-
takes by using new business practices and investing
in Israel.
Cutler, whose father, Carl, came to Detroit to earn
the company's $5 a day and was a foreman at the
Highland Park plant, is a retired electrical engineer
with 15 patents.
"There were many stories about anti-Semitism at
Ford offices and plants, and that just shouldn't have
happened," he said. A staunch Zionist, he frequent-
ly runs local newspaper ads to explain his views on
issues in the Middle East.
If there was consistent animosity between Ford
Motor Company and the Jews, it can't be proved by

.

talking to Edward C. Levy Jr. or Jonathan
Holtzman. Levy is the son of Edward C. Levy Sr., a
trucking entrepreneur and the founder of the
Edward C. Levy Co., a firm that thrived on hauling
away steel slag from plants. Holtzman is the grand-
son of Joseph Holtzman, one of the.founders of the
Holtzman & Silverman Co. that built about 25,000
suburban homes for workers at Ford and other auto
manufacturers.

"Henry Ford did a wonderful thing for Jewish
businessmen in the old days, and we appreciate it,"
Holtzman added. "Our company wouldn't exist
today if it were not for Henry Ford."
Joseph Holtzman, Jonathan's grandfather, was
lured to Detroit from St. Louis by Ford's $5-a-day
offer in 1914. However, he couldn't handle the
physical demands of the job and eventually went
into real estate and started to build homes in 1919.
He partnered with his brother-in-law, Nathan
Silverman; then their sons, Irwin "Toby"
Holtzman and Gilbert B. Silverman, took
over. Jonathan and Gilbert "Buzz" Silverman,
now mainly a real estate advisor, represent the
third generations.

High-Ranking Jews

Banning of Jews from Ford is certainly not
evident in the company's employment rolls.
Jews hold jobs mostly in engineering, research,
finance and the legal areas. And there usually
- are at least a few Jewish vice presidents. -
w Mervyn Manning of Bloomfield Hills was
the company's first Jewish vice president, retir-
u, ing 10 years ago after 37 years of service. He
headed operations in Latin America, Australia
and the tractor division.
5: He said he experienced no disadvantage as a
`Z Jew during his career at the company, having
only a minor incident of anti-Semitism with a
fellow employee at the beginning. "It really
was no big deal then and apparently it's no big
deal now," he said. 'As long as you did your
job properly, you got promoted. Ford always
has been a modern-thinking company. "
When Manning was general manager of
Ford Tractor Operations, he recalls Ford being
boycotted by Arab nations for doing business in
Israel. "But that didn't bother Henry Ford II at all.
He ignored those countries and refused to back
down. He was a great person to work for ... a very
charming man."
The two highest-ranking Jews at Ford Motor
Company today have group vice president status.
They are Mark Fields, 41, chair-
man and CEO of Ford's Premier
Auto Group (Jaguar, Volvo, etc.),
and Martin Zimmerman, 57, vice
president of corporate affairs.
There is one Jew on the board of
directors, former U.S. Treasury
Secretary Robert E. Rubin.
Born Mark Finkelman in New
Jersey, Fields went to Rutgers
Fields
University, worked at IBM, then
joined Ford in 1989. He rose
quickly through the ranks to
become president and CEO of Mazda in Japan, of
which Ford owns controlling interest. After straight-
ening out Mazda's plants, launching some nifty new
products and getting the company on the road to
profitability, Fields was tapped by Ford management
for the Premier Auto Group job, based in London.
He says he's never experienced any anti-Semitism at
Ford, even when he was living in Hiroshima and
STILL PUZZLING on page 16

E

.<ottA,

Rabbi Leo M. Franklin and Henry Ford in 1938.

Levy Jr., 71, of Birmingham, president and CEO
of the current international firm that provides road-
building materials, and still hauls slag (a steel
byproduct) from the Rouge, said he disdains public-
ity, but says there always has been an excellent rela-
tionship between his company and Ford. That rela-
tionship has extended to a warm feeling between the
Levy family and the Ford family.
Levy Sr. visited the old Ford fam-
ily farm (at Greenfield and Ford
Roads) and rejected Henry Ford's
request to invest in the "new com-
pany" in 1903. But he wanted to
help Ford with his trucks and gave
his own company a boost by start-
ing to haul waste from Ford plants.
The Levy Co. was one of the first
J. Holtzman
investors in Renaissance Center.
Levy Sr. died at 80 in 1981.
"I don't think Henry Ford was as
much of an anti-Semite as people have said through
the years," asserted Jonathan Holtzman, 48, of
Orchard Lake Village.
He now is CEO of Village Green Companies in
Farmington Hills, which operates about 30,000
apartment buildings in the Midwest. Like historian
Kreipke, Holtzman believes if Ford were a true anti-
Semite, he would have given instructions not to hire
or buy from Jews.

6/20
2003

15

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