Forward Fifty Lists
etroit Jewry's top communal professional
and the chairman of the parent company
of the Detroit Jewish News are ranked
among the Forward Fifty, the Forward newspaper's
list of the most influential Jews over the past year.
"All have consciously pursued Jewish activism
as they understood it," wrote the New York-based
newspaper in introducing its annual
The list includes Robert Aronson,
CEO of the Jewish Federation of
Metropolitan Detroit, and Michael
Steinhardt, chairman of Jewish
% Renaissance Media, whose holdings
include the Detroit Jewish News.
The Forward speculates that
Aronson is in line to become the
new president of the United Jewish
Communities, which represents
North American federations. It
notes his always-successful annual
campaigns, "with a usually generous
proportion designated to overseas
needs, a favorite of Aronson."
Aronson, who came to Detroit in •
1989, also is an adviser to Auburn
Hills industrialist William Davidson and
Steinhardt, a former Wall Street tycoon. Both are
Arsonon heads Steinhardt's new initiative to
involve young people in communal service
through fellowships and scholarships.
The Forward lauded Steinhardt for "trying to
bring a new home within Judaism for young
tribesman and women who have strayed from the
flock." It cited the new Steinhardt Center at the
University of Pennsylvania for Hillel students.
"He spent much of this year doubling his sup-
port and involvement in already-established proj-
ects that have been threatened during difficult
financial times, including Birthright Israel," wrote
It added: "In this project, and all others, he has
not just given money, he has provided a vision
that has regularly brought together the Jewish
community s most important leaders behind his
cery packages and other services each month.
Los Angeles-based MAZON has awarded
$481,500 in grants to Michigan organizations
since 1988. The nonprofit allocates donations
from the Jewish community to fight hunger
among people of all faiths and backgrounds.
Nationwide, hunger afflicts 35 million
Americans, including 13 million children. In
Michigan, 360,000 households don't have ade-
quate access to nutritional or safe foods. The state
ranks 22nd in the percentage of people living in
food insecure households, according to MAZON.
— Robert A. Sklar
he American Technion Society (ATS) has
reached $1 billion in fund raising, with
almost half of that amount generated dur-
ing the past seven years, including $55.3 million
raised by the East Central Region, which includes
The trend affirms that Israel is as important as
ever to American Jews who support the 63-year-
old New York-based organization, which has
20,000 supporters around the country.
"When supporters visit Israel, whether it's their
first or 50th time," said Dr. Joseph N. Epel,
founding leader of the Detroit chapter, "they meet
the Technion alumni who developed the Arrow
antimissile that keeps Israel safe, the alumni who
manage the country's leading high-tech companies
that employ a fifth of its workers and the scien-
tists behind the novel products and technologies
being exported worldwide."
The Stephen and Nancy Grand Water Research
Institute is just one example of the Detroit chap-
ter's contribution to Israel's infrastructure. The
Grands are Detroiters.
Because of a sharp drop in government funding
due to the cost of fighting terror amid an eco-
nomic crisis, the Technion, like all Israeli univer-
sities, faces budget deficits. Epel noted that
because the cost of educating students in science
and technology is greater than those in liberal
arts, the impact of less government support is
greater on the Technion.
— Robert A. Sklar
wo University of Michigan grads have started a
Web site featuring products made in Israel and
will donate 10 percent of their profits to Israeli
Howard Felson and Jonathan Koch have created
Littlelsrael.com in New York City. Felson is a native of
south Florida and graduated from U-M's business
school in 1993. Koch, a New York native, is a 1996 U-
M business grad.
Their site sells a wide range of children's products,
including clothing, and they ship from U.S. warehous-
es to minimize shipping time and expense.
"We felt that if people with an affinity for Israel were
choosing between two products of equal value," said
Koch, "they would choose the Israeli product every
The Jewish News'affiliated Web site, jewish.com , also
promotes Israeli products and is donating 10 percent of
the profits from toys purchased for Chanukah to
Israel's emergency medical service, Magen David
The jewish.com store has a "made in Israel" section
that features Ahava beauty products, artwork, jewelry,
Judaica, pro-Israel items and religious items from kip-
pot to shofarot.
— Alan Hitsky
Standing Room Only
For JWV Dedication
tall members at the Jewish Community Center
in Oak Park were happily scrambling for more
chairs as Jewish War Veterans and their families,
about 250 people in all, kept streaming through the
doors for the dedication of the JWV Memorial Home
Association's conference room on Veterans Day, Nov.
"Standing room only," said Robert Feldman, local
JWV commander. "All in all, we were just thrilled with
Speakers included U.S. Rep. Sander Levin, D-
Sterling Heights; Oak Park Mayor Gerald Naftaly, Oak
Park District Judge Michelle Friedman Appel; and
Stella Suberman, author of When It Was Our War: A
Soldier's Wife in the Home Front.
— Hairy IGrsbaum
— Robert A. Sklar
For Vision Impaired
n interfaith collaborative serving the
Grand Rapids area has received a $10,000
grant from MAZON: A Jewish Response
to Hunger to help hungry and needy people.
ACCESS of West Michigan works to meet
needs of low-income families living in Kent
County. Its network of food pantries and social
service agencies provides 3,000 families with gro-
arge-print Passover haggadot and Megillot
Esther for Purim are available free from
Jewish Heritage for the Blind.
The organization will provide one copy per
request. Call (800) 995-1888 or fax your request
to (877) 230-2205. JHB also has Braille hag-
— Alan Hitsky
Appeh Naftali Levin and Feldman recite the Pledge of
Photo by Bob Benyas