Detroit Turns to Prayer
City: Bloomfield Hills
Kudos: Healing Hearts
Dr Ross led a team of 21 medical professionals on a mis-
sion to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, suc-
cessfully treating 27 children ages 4-16 with life-threaten-
ing illnesses. Dr Ross is a cardiologist at Children's
Hospital of Michigan in Detroit and teaches at Wayne
State University Medical School.
Why the Dominican Republic?
Dr. Robert Ross with Grace,
a young heart patient.
It has one of the
highest infant mor-
tality rates in the
world — almost 38
percent; a very poor
patients were born
with heart defects.
The country had
also hosted other
teams there, so we
had an infrastruc-
ture and could
move in quickly.
Who went? What did you do?
We had to bring everything for surgery. We spent
almost a year collecting supplies and donations from
companies and charitable organizations and shipping
them down ahead of time. We spent eight days there
last November and quickly screened 40 patients to
come up with a surgical list of children with holes or
blockages in their hearts. Some were blue. It was
heartwarming seeing the parents, tears filling their
eyes, after their child had surgery and had pink fingers
and lips for the first time.
You feel gratification from the families but also
from the people who work at the hospital. Even those
who cleaned up stayed overnight to help us.
How did the experience effect you?
It's incredible. When I go down there, I get to prac-
tice medicine the way I thought it was going to be
when I entered med school. It's a refreshing experience
that re-energized me. I'm gearing up to return with 25
people this fall.
— Sharon Luckerman, sta writer
etroit's city officials
and police command-
ers held a day of
prayer last week to
seek help for the city's recent
wave of violent crime.
This is beyond sad. It is almost
At the same time that atheists
are trying to get the U.S.
Supreme Court to remove the
words "under God" from the
Pledge of Allegiance as an intoler-
able insertion of religion in pub-
lic life, here is an American city officially asking
for divine intervention.
Detroit's actions are cer-
tainly in keeping with this
country's Protestant tradi-
tion. Days of community
fasting and prayer were a .
part of life in colonial New
England and remained a
fixture in the Southern and
Midwestern Bible Belt well
into the 20th century.
But they were usually
held to seek deliverance
from forces that seemed
beyond human control —
drought, disease, locusts.
They were not done to
plead with God to change
Those who commit the
acts that have appalled this
entire community are well
beyond a prayerful entreaty
to change their ways. These are people to whom
the Sixth Commandment is a minimal inconven-
More than that, it is almost an admission that
its elected officials don't know how to run the
city. Instead, the city has run away.
Governing Detroit is not an easy proposition
in the best of times. But with a Council wholly
George. Cantor's e-mail address is
preoccupied with battles over turf and a mayor
who seems to be in over his head, it may well be
What makes it even worse is that there are
signs of renewed vigor. For the first time in 15
years or more, suburban residents are regularly
visiting the city for entertainment. Not to shop
and certainly not to live. But they are going
I had dinner a few weeks ago, for example, at
the Atlas Global Bistro, a restaurant on an espe-
cially dismal part of Woodward Avenue, north of
downtown. It was packed. I saw many people I
knew from Oakland County and, even more sur-
prising, many of them were older than I am. I
point that out because it used to be only
younger people I saw when
I went into the city. That
is changing, and it comes
under the heading of good
The people we were
with, although not terribly
fond of conditions in
Detroit, nonetheless had
made recent trips to the
Sweet Georgia Brown, the
Foxtown Grille, the Gem
Theatre — taking advan-
tage of the city.
But I still get the feeling
that this is a fragile phe-
nomenon. That one highly
publicized act of violence
could turn it around. That
it still doesn't extend to
more than a few narrow
strips and neighborhoods.
That the city's inexplicable indifference, even
hostility towards outside investors still exists; and
that its bureaucrats feel they are doing someone
a favor by "allowing" him to spend a few million
dollars in Detroit.
I don't know whether it can ever be a "cool"
city. I don't know that it ever was. But with a
few breaks, it may become livable again.
Wouldn't that be something? Prayer is fine, but
I'm sure that a little serious effort would help
out the Almighty, too.
For more information, call Rebecca Palmer at Variety
Children's Lifeline, the main sponsor of the mission, at
REPORT A DOER...
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"When I light Shabbos candles, I feel like I can ask for everything I need, both for my family
and for the world."
— Tova Shkedi, Oak Park, nurse in training
Friday, April 16, 7:58 p.m.
Friday, April 23, 8:06 p.m.
Saturday, April 17, 9:02 p.m.
Saturday, April 24, 9:11 p.m.
To submit a candlelighting message, call. Miriam Amzalak of the Luhavitch Women's Organization at (248) 548-6771 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org