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Harlene Appelman, Federation's top educator,
accepts national post.
Special to the Jewish News
ore than two decades ago, a
small committee at
Zedek hired Jewish educator Harlene
Appelman as family life director and
permanently altered the course of
Jewish education in North America.
"I had the idea that we needed to
begin some kind of outreach to the
outer core of the syna-
gogue membership," said
and Shaarey Zedek mem-
ber Mandell "Bill"
Berman. "Harlene took
the idea and ran with it.
"She's an amazingly cre-
ative and inventive lady."
Appelman worked at
Shaarey Zedek for five
years, leaving the Oakland Appelman
County synagogue with
programs such as "Shabbat
in a Box" and "So You
Want To Be a Jewish Parent." In addi-
tion, Berman said, she left a detailed
list of what she'd done, including
which programs worked and which
After 23 years and many accom-
plishments both locally and nationally,
Appelman leaves her job as the Jewish
Federation of Metropolitan Detroit's
chief Jewish education officer to take
over as executive director of the
Covenant Foundation, a New York-
based organization dedicated to per-
petuating the identity and heritage of
the Jewish people through education.
Her new job begins June 6.
"Harlene is one of a kind — a
visionary," said Penny Blumenstein,
co-chair of the Federation's Alliance
for Jewish Education.
"Very little of value in Detroit
Jewish education would have hap-
pened without her input," agreed
Robert Naftaly, past Alliance co-chair.
"It's hard to keep someone of her tal-
ent a secret. I'm happy for her, but her
leaving will certainly be a loss to the
Appelman has been the catalyst for
countless community-wide programs
from Apples and Honey at Rosh
Hashanah to Shalom Street hands-on
museum. She brought Jewish family
educators to Detroit-area religious
schools and established the intensive
teacher training programs of the
Hermelin-Davidson Center for
Through her work with the
California-based Whizin Institute for
Jewish Family Education,
the Coalition for the
Advancement of Jewish
Education and other pro-
grams, she has inspired syn-
agogue and day schools
As executive director of
the Covenant Foundation,
Appelman will work with
the Jewish Education
Service of North America
(JESNA), to award about
$500,000 each year to indi-
viduals and institutions for
innovative and inspiring program-
The first person to win a Covenant
Award was Harlene Appelman.
An Innovative Leader
Covenant board member Steven Ain,
director of the Jewish Federation of
Greater Toronto, remembers being
asked to help select that first Covenant
"The finalists were listed in alpha-
betical order and Harlene was first,"
he said. "I distinctly remember that,
when I finished reading her statement,
I thought, 'I'm going to be a lousy
board member. I read the first state-
ment and I'm convinced that there
will never be a more deserving winner
"And there wasn't. Nor has there
ever been in 14 years of Covenant
awards. We are very fortunate to have
her as our new professional leader."
Susan Crown, foundation president,
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