Frankel family gives $20 million to Judaic Studies at U-M.
he Samuel and Jean Frankel
Jewish Heritage Foundation
has provided a gift of $20
million to create the Frankel Institute
for Advanced Judaic Studies by 2007
at the University of Michigan.
The gift is believed to be the largest
dedicated to Judaic studies at any uni-
versity and is the largest ever to U-M's
College of Literature, Science and the
Arts (LSA), according to the U-M
News Service. The institute will reside
within U-M's existing Frankel Center
for Judaic Studies.
The new institute will annually bring
14 of the world's scholars from a vari-
ety of disciplines to Ann Arbor for an
academic year to collaborate in advanc-
ing schol a rly research on the history,
culture, literature, philosophy and reli-
gion of the Jews from antiquity to the
present. Specialists will be sought in
Yiddish, Hebrew, Ladino, Aramaic and
other languages. It will be one of only a
few such institutes in the world. Both
established academicians and postdoc-
toral students will be welcome.
Samuel and Jean Frankel of
Bloomfield Hills are both U-M alums.
Noting their 1988 collaboration with
the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan
Detroit that provided a $2 million gift
to establish the Frankel Center for
Judaic Studies, Sam, a real estate
developer, says, "Our partnership cre-
ated the vision for the institute, which
will take the existing center and the
field of study to a new level. We are
tremendously fortunate to have the
means to make it a reality."
There will be a new theme each
year, drawn from among such poten-
tial topics as Jewish political behavior
in periods of crisis, Jewish responses to
catastrophe and Jewish-Christian rela-
tions over the centuries.
"Those are the kinds of topics that
are broad enough to bring people in
from all disciplines and time periods,"
said Todd Endelman, director of the
Frankel Institute and the university's
William Haber Professor of Modern
U-M President Mary Sue Coleman
is grateful for the role the Frankels are
playing in the university's fund-raising
campaign, the Michigan Difference.
In addition to their gifts, Sam and
Jean's son Stanley Frankel is a vice
chair; daughter-in-law Maxine Frankel
(wife of Stuart Frankel) is a co-chair of
the $2.5 billion fund-raising effort.
"The University of Michigan is
delighted and grateful for the latest
wonderful gift from this quietly gener-
ous couple, Jean and Sam Frankel,"
Coleman said. "While they have been
longtime supporters of the University in
a wide variety of areas, this gift is partic-
ularly fitting because it will enhance the
study of Jewish culture and civilization,
a lifetime commitment of this outstand-
ing philanthropic family."
Other Gifts Of
mong projects the Frankels
have supported at U-M are
the Drachler program in the
School of Social Work, the
Cardiology Department in the
School of Medicine and the Ross
School of Business. Recently, the
University received a $10 Million
gift from the Maxine and. Stuart
Frankel Foundation for Art, provid-
ing major support for a new addi-
tion to the University of Michigan
Museum of Art.
"This new, extraordinary gift will
firmly establish U-M as the nation's
preeminent center for scholarly
research in Jewish studies," predicted
LSA Dean Terrence J. McDonald.
Once the institute opens, "If a great
Jewish poet wants to come from Tel
Aviv and study, you'll suddenly see
that the great poet can come," said
Marshall Weinberg, a University of
Michigan alumnus and JTA board
member who has given a great deal of
time and money to his alma mater.
"He will be under no obligation to
teach — although, of course, he can if
he wants to — or to do anything
else," Weinberg said.
The Frankels are major supporters
of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra,
the Detroit Institute of Arts, the
Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer
Institute, Jewish schools in Metro
Detroit, the Frankel School in
Jerusalem, the Jewish Federation of
Metropolitan Detroit and Children's
Hospital of Michigan in Detroit.
Jewish Telegraphic Agency contributed
to this report.
The scholars would mix with gradu-
ate students, both formally and casual-
ly, not only acting as role models but
also passing on knowledge through
Endelman said it's typical for Judaic
Studies programs to bring about two
visiting Jewish studies professors to
campus for a semester or even a year.
"The energy and excitement that we
expect will be kindled," Endelman
said, "will be felt far beyond the
University of Michigan." ❑
Jean and Samuel Frankel Center for
Judaic Studies' Web site is
Fighting The Good Fight
Lobenthal's years with ADL yield tales of battling hate and intolerance.
Special to the Jewish News
ick Lobenthal recalls a time
at his office when a member
of the American Nazi Party
brandished a gun and said, "I'm going
to kill you."
"Put it down," Lobenthal ordered,
and the man obeyed. Later, Lobenthal,
a longtime Anti-Defamation League
staff member, worked with the Nazi,
who turned informer.
Retired from the ADL, where he
worked for nearly four decades —
including running the Michigan office
from 1964-1996 — Lobenthal shared
his experiences recently with a crowd
of mostly University of Michigan stu-
dents at the campus Hillel. Since he
retired nearly 10 years ago, he's rarely
spoken publicly of his experiences.
In the talk tided "A Fighter of Hate
Shares All," he recalled hair-raising tales
of trying to desegregate the South.
Once, he was in a church when
someone torched it. "Shouldn't we get
out of here?" Lobenthal recalls asking
a seemingly nonchalant police officer
in the building with him. Another
time, the Ku Klux Klan burned down
his home in Virginia.
Apart from sharing war stories,
Lobenthal expanded on his hard-
earned perspective on hate and intoler-
ance, finding both good news and bad.
While hate groups like the KKK
have dissipated, he says America still
struggles to build a spirit of tolerance.
"America challenges its willingness
to tolerate the differences," he says.
For example, government "keeps pass-
ing laws that gays shouldn't have rights
to exist, to have free choices."
"We are rapidly losing our ability to
have any kind of cross-cultural discus-
sion about things that matter," he said.
Striking a pessimistic note, he said, "I
want to share with you my doubts, my
honest, deeply felt doubts about whether
American democracy can survive."
At one point, an audience member
asked "What drives you?"
FIGHTING GOOD FIGHT on page 18