Rabbi Charles Rosenzveig, founder and CEO of the Zekelman Family Holocaust Memorial Center, donor Alan Zekelman of Bloomfield Hills
and Alex Karp, longtime Zekelman family friend, Holocaust survivor and Holocaust Center supporter
$ 10 Million Gift
Holocaust Center renamed to memorialize Zekelman family.
Keri Guten Cohen
Story Development Editor
he Holocaust Memorial Center
in Farmington Hills has been
renamed the Zekelman Family
Holocaust Memorial Center following a
gift of $10 million from Alan Zekelman,
44, of Bloomfield Hills, and his broth-
ers, Barry 39, and Clayton, 36, both of
Windsor, Ontario. Also, the third wing of
the museum became the Harry and Wanda
Zekelman International Institute of the
The Zekelman brothers made the signifi-
cant donation in memory of their parents,
who lived in Windsor, and of Harry's par-
ents and siblings, who all perished in the
Their outright gift of $10 million is one
of the largest ever given to an institution
in the Detroit Jewish community, said
Andrew Echt of the Jewish Federation of
Metropolitan Detroit. Last year, Sam and
Jean Frankel gave $20 million in match-
ing funds and endowments to the Jewish
Academy of Metropolitan Detroit, now
renamed after the couple.
The timing of the Zekelmans' gift came
at the close of the mourning period for
their mother, Wanda.
"It's traditional to give charity at the
end of mourning and we just finished
around Chanukah:' said Alan Zekelman,
who is immediate past president of the
ZFHMC, chaired its past two annual din-
ners and presided over construction of the
new museum, which contains steel tubing
donated by Atlas Tube, the manufacturing
company started by his father in 1984 in
Zekelman said he was initially drawn
to the Holocaust Center by longtime fam-
ily friend Alex Karp of West Bloomfield, a
Holocaust survivor and supporter of the
"I certainly suggested making the gift to
the Holocaust Center and my brothers want-
ed to do it',' Zekelman said. "They know how
passionately I feel about the institution, and
the Holocaust was a close topic to us in our
household. This was the time and place to
put our parents' names on a building — let
their names and those of 6 million not be
wasted but be meaningful. This is a once-in-
a-lifetime gift for us."
Liquidity in the family business came
from a merger late in 2006 of Atlas Tube
and the John Maneely Co., a subsidiary of
the Carlyle Group.
The Zekelman's gift allows the Holocaust
Center to nearly retire the debt remaining
from the construction of the $19 mil-
lion museum. About $2.8 million of debt
remains, says Rabbi Charles Rosenzveig,
founder and CEO.
"I'm ecstatic:' he said. "I've had a lot of
sleepless nights the last two years — that's
a lot of money and a lot of fundraising
each month. I'm not surprised by Alan's
donation; I know how broad of a heart
he has. This generous gift hopefully will
inspire others to achieve the rest."
Zekelman also hopes to be a catalyst for
giving among those of his generation.
"People who are successful give
$100,000, $50,000 and say, can give more
later in my career:" he said. "Plenty of
people could give even more now."
Zekelman said he was asked if it hurt to
donate such a large amount of money.
"There's nothing better I could do with
my money than give it here — it gives me
the most pleasure and tremendous pride
Zekelman and his wife, Lori, also have
given to other Jewish institutions locally
and nationally; and they support Barllan
University as well. They and their three
children belong to the Birmingham
Bloomfield Chai Center and Congregation
Shaarey Zedek in Southfield.
The $10 million comes with only one
caveat, says current Holocaust Center presi-
dent Dr. Michael Treblin. "The only one is
that we follow halachic Torah law and not
be open on Shabbat or any Jewish holidays,
just as the rabbi would want it:' he said.
With building payments under control,
Rabbi Rosenzveig says he now can con-
centrate on two areas. One is to provide a
permanent home — open to the commu-
nity — for the Midrasha library collection.
Another is to add a section to the museum
devoted to teaching children under age 11
about the Holocaust. Currently, because of
its sensitive, graphic material, the ZFHMC
is recommended only for children age 11
"This is not only an important insti-
tution, but a life-changing one Alan
Zekelman said. "How many visits to
Greenfield Village changed your life?"
Last year, more than 180,000 people
— Jewish and non-Jewish — visited the
January 25 . 2007 15