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October 11, 2012 - Image 54

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2012-10-11

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Contributing Editor


Communal Repository
Playing A Central Role



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The Sarah Wetsman Davidson Tower dominates the Hadassah medical center campus.

I is fitting the new 19-story, 500-bed tower
at the Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical
Center at Ein Karem, a western suburb of
Jerusalem, is named Sarah Wetsman Davidson
Tower. Sarah Wetsman Davidson was an early
president of and ambassador for the Detroit
chapter of Hadassah and she, her sister Fan
and their mother, Bessie Wetsman, became
acquainted with Henrietta Szold, who founded
Hadassah: The Women's Zionist Organization
of America in 1912. Szold, in fact, stayed in the
family's home in 1916 to pitch her passion in
Detro it.
Sarah's father, Joseph, meanwhile, was among
donors who gave land on Mount Scopus in
Jerusalem, where Hadassah's first hospital was
built. Hadassah became the medical arm of
pre-state Israel and treated people who were
building the Jewish homeland. Over the years, it
became Israel's largest medical complex.
In the midst of family members, the Sarah
Wetsman Davidson Tower was
dedicated Oct. 14 during Hadassah's
100th anniversary celebration.
Sarah's son, Detroit mega-philan-
thropist and industrial titan Bill
Davidson, who died in 2009, made
the tower possible in 2007 with a
$75 million gift from he and his
wife, Karen, and the business he
built: Guardian Industries Corp. of
Auburn Hills, the internationally
renowned maker of automotive and
architectural glass.
The four-phase tower amid the Judean hills
won't be finished until 2014, but it's well on its
way to realizing its promise of becoming a high-
tech facility long on acute care and biomedi-
cal research. Treating the ill and injured has
become a pulsating matter in the Jewish state.
And Hadassah has helped keep the quality high,
thanks to generous givers worldwide.
Bill Davidson was proud to be the third
generation in his family to embrace Hadassah,


October 11 * 2012

Bill Davidson was proud
to be the third generation
in his family to embrace
Hadassah, a commitment
lovingly maintained by
family members and
Guardian Industries.

a commitment lovingly maintained by Karen
Davidson, Guardian Industries and Bill's sister,
Dorothy Gerson of Franklin, and her husband,
Byron. Bill gave to many local charitable causes.
But he certainly understood the importance of
top medical care in Israel for people of all faiths.
Israeli Arabs know Hadassah hospital
is there for them and Palestinian
Arabs in the West Bank also have
sought treatment there.
At the time of the $75 million gift,
Bill Davidson envisioned the Sarah
Wetsman Davidson Tower ultimately
standing "as an enduring tribute to
my mother's love of Hadassah, Israel
and the Jewish people."
In 1918, Sarah, still single,
borrowed $1,000 from her father,
Joseph Wetsman, to seed the Detroit
Hadassah chapter's purchase of an ambulance
to be sent to the American Zionist Medical Unit
in Palestine; Hadassah and the American Jewish
Joint Distribution Committee co-ran the unit.
The gift of the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Tower
initiated by her son, Bill, richly represents
the Jewish ideal of l'dor v'dor — generation to

Related story: page 1

t's one of Jewish Detroit's most significant and
least known communal agencies. It holds the
Jewish community's financial and real estate
assets, serving as our banking and investment
arm. And it embodies the prudent work of Detroit
Jewry's professional and lay leaders.
As Doug Etkin turns the presidency over to Todd
Sachse after an eventful three-year term during
trying economic times, United Jewish Foundation
of Metropolitan Detroit deserves a moment in
the spotlight as the chief partner of the Jewish
Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, our commu-
nity's chief planning and fundraising agency – and
best-known organization.
The Foundation takes a long view of commu-
nity activities and resources while teaming with
Federation to provide for Jewish needs locally, in
Israel and elsewhere. Over the course of Etkin's
Todd Sachse
presidential term, the Foundation's Jewish
Community Endowment Fund grew to more than
$315 million. The Fund represents more than 1,600 separate funds
endowed by generous local donors. Earnings from investment sus-
tain the Fund. At the Sept. 24 joint Federation/Foundation annual
meeting, Etkin reported the balanced pool earned an average annual
return of 8.3 percent over the past three years – a nice take.
To help secure Jewish Detroit's future given our declining popula-
tion and Michigan's uncertain economic fortunes, the Federation/
Foundation Centennial Campaign already has received $60 million
in lifetime and testamentary gifts toward a $250 million goal by
Dec. 31, 2015. The Centennial Campaign will be a key and necessary
supplement for Federation's Annual Campaign, our community's No.
1 annual fundraiser.
On the real estate front, the Foundation, representing the Detroit
Jewish community, owns more than 2 million square feet of space
valued at more than $300 million. The property houses partner
agencies that provide an array of services. Under Etkin's leader-
ship, the Foundation took a close look at the land ledger, sold three
underperforming properties and put the proceeds in a capital needs
endowment fund. Property upkeep is a never-ending battle for the
Major building projects over the past three years included the
Berman Center for the Performing Arts, the rebuilt Hechtman II
Apartments following a devastating 2008 fire, the renovated Max
M. Fisher Federation Building following a 2009 flood, the upgraded
Fresh Air Society and Camp Building, the new Frankel Jewish
Academy Green Entrance, and improvements at two day schools,
Darchei Torah and Bais Yaacov. In August, construction began on a
Yeshiva Beth Yehudah preschool and girls high school on W.10 Mile.
The Oak Park-Southfield area continues to be a focal point, as
it should. We, as a community, have too much invested there not
to keep the Jewish neighborhoods strong. The two cities help link
our western and eastern Jewish areas and together are home to
Orthodox, Conservative and Reform synagogues.
In stepping down, Etkin aptly sized up his presidential years: "Even
as the economic worth of individuals diminished, our leaders contin-
ued to lead, our agencies continued to provide both existing and new
services at greatly increased levels, and we got through it."
We certainly did.
We're a changing Jewish community but still a vibrant one, thanks
in no small measure to the behind-the-scenes money management
of United Jewish Foundation. We, as a community, owe it to the
Foundation, well run as it is, to know what it does and assure it
stays transparent and accountable. E

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