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August 18, 2005 - Image 30

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2005-08-18

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Skipping To
A New Tune

Skip Rosenthal moves from music to books
and back to music.

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kip Rosenthal isn't sure if he is
writing a new chapter or just
adding an epilogue to his action-
packed life of 78 years. But he stressed
that he is not retiring. -
'"Retire' is not in my vocabulary. I
don't accept it in my language," he said
in the office of his downtown
Farmington used bookstore, Books
Abound, which will close Aug. 31 after
22 years.
The word he does want to describe his
new life is "student" — a simple descrip-
tion he borrowed from the headstone of
Benjamin Franklin.
Actually, his new love, music, isn't
really new — it's a return to something
he has enjoyed for most of his life.
He is going back to his younger days
in playing flute as well as extending his
piano lessons, which he began about six
months ago, and strumming the banjo,
which he has done regularly for movie-
goers buying tickets at the adjacent
Farmington Civic Theatre, on Grand
River just east of Farmington Road.
He made it clear that he is a "young
78 going on 40" who "plans to live life
to the fullest."
Part of that plan is to make another
trip to Israel, but not as a tourist.
"I will rent an apartment instead of
staying in a hotel and then make con-
tacts with musical groups," he said.
On an earlier visit to Israel, Skip said,
he learned about a barbershop quartet
group and a folk music festival.
During one of his several visits as a
young adult, he played flute with the
Jerusalem Symphony. He also lived on a
kibbutz for a year while working at
Hebrew University in Jerusalem as a
librarian in the foreign language periodi-
cals section.
Skip, raised on Detroit's west side,
graduated Cass Technical High School
and Wayne University (now Wayne
State) with bachelor's and master's
degrees, majoring in music.
His plan was to teach music at a col-

lege but "nothing came of
it." So he earned a master of
library science degree from
the University of Michigan
in Ann Arbor. He was the
city of Livonia's first library
director and later the
Dearborn-based Henry Ford
Community College's head
Skip, a longtime member
of Birmingham Temple as
well as a Sunday school
teacher, noted that as a
youngster, he was a classmate
of Sherwin Wine at
Congregation Shaarey
Zedek's Sunday school.
Wine later became a rabbi
and founder of the Temple.
Skip's father, Philip, was a
Detroit Mackenzie High
School Spanish and Latin teacher and
principal of the Shaarey Zedek Sunday
It's no accident that he had an early
love for music. His mother, Esther, was a
violinist and an uncle, Harry Aleinikoff,
performed with the Philadelphia
Symphony Orchestra's violin section.
Music was also the key factor on how
he got his nickname. Known to nearly
everyone who knows him as Skip, his
given first name is Avram.
"In high school in the 1940s, I was in
a dance band with other Jewish boys,"
he recalled. We were getting some jobs,
including one at a northern Michigan
resort" during a period of anti-Semitism.
He decided to avoid his Jewish-sounding
first and last names and call himself
"Skip Ross." Following his lead, his fel-
low musicians also avoided using their
Jewish names.
And the rest is history.

Loyal Following

His customers will certainly miss him,
based on comments from two of them
in the store last week.
Julie Falbaum, 41, of Farmington
Hills, and the mother of two small chil-

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