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November 01, 2012 - Image 19

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2012-11-01

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Crai g Fa hie

the world on that one, but the allega-
tions proved to be false she says.
"Another high-profile case is the pro-
posed Muslim community center at the
old Eagle Elementary School in West
A somewhat easier part of the direc-
tor job is fundraising, the money corn-
ing from individual donations and
fundraising events.
"The funds go to the ADI's main
office in New York, then back to the
regional offices as needed:' she explains.
"Besides materials, much of it is used to
hire lawyers in New York who can help
us on a moment's notice"
Kellman is especially proud of the
office's myriad of educational programs,
and partnering with law enforcement
agencies on hate-crime subjects.
"Civility among different ethnic
groups is one of our most important
topics:' she says. The ADIS Echoes and
Reflections program is now in 90 area
schools, teaching students about the
Holocaust and other subjects.

Lobenthal: 32 Years

Kellman's two predecessors as Michigan
regional director are Richard Lobenthal
and Don Cohen, both West Bloomfield
residents. "Our main job, of course,
always has been to fight anti-Semitism,
but I'm glad we also became a civil
rights/human relations agency:' said
Lobenthal, 78, who
had a 32-year tenure
at the helm, from
"With the aid of the
Ethnic Intimidation
Act that the state
legislature passed
in the 1990s, the
helps women,
African Americans,
Arabs and other ethnic groups, gays
and lesbians. We fight for Jews and all
A native New Yorker, Lobenthal had
probably the most fascinating stint in
the ADL of any regional director. He
held ADL posts in North Carolina,
Virginia and Texas before coming to
Michigan. In Carolina, he even became
an FBI informant for a while and infil-
trated Ku Klux Klan meetings.
"One time," he recalls, "a Klansman
gave me a bumpy ride home in an old
car, and I found out later there were five
sticks of dynamite under my seat that
he kept in case he needed to do some
quick bombing."
Lobenthal once did a study on anti-
Semitism among Detroit's retailers and
found it was rampant at the J.L. Hudson
Co., which in the early 1900s used to
advertise for new employees with the

tagline, "Jews need not apply." He said
the study showed a top Hudson's execu-
tive was the anti-Semitic culprit.
"Joe Hudson was wonderful:'
Lobenthal recalls. "He admitted anti-
Semitism at the company and fired the
executive. He refused to tolerate the
situation, and he asked my advice on
how to recruit new Jewish employees:'

Behind The Scenes

Cohen, ADL director from 1996-2000,
said he never received any direct threats
during his tenure, "but there were
some sharp exchanges, and my name
appeared on several
hate-group websites"
"The ADL has
an important role
and good people,
but the job is never-
ending," Cohen says.
"Because the nation-
Don Cohen
al ADL is often
vocal, some people
wrongly assume
that if the local ADL doesn't speak out,
then all is well. But that's not the case.
It's hard for the community to judge the
local ADIs effectiveness because the
quiet work and the diplomacy usually
are done behind the scenes"
A note of pessimism is struck by Abe
Foxman, 72, of New York, a Holocaust
survivor, who has been the ADIfs
national director for 25 years.
"We're reaching our 100th anniversa-
ry, but there's really nothing to celebrate
because we still haven't eliminated anti-
Semitism," he says. "But at least we're
making progress. We seem to be keep-
ing the lid on it:'
Foxman said a major study, done
through a prejudice index, now shows
one in 15 members of the U.S. popula-
tion as anti-Semitic, compared to one in
three several years ago. "It's a different
time, a different culture, different news
media; it all adds up:' he says.
"The ADEs biggest asset is credibility.
That's what gets everyone's attention
and makes a difference in our work.
Dick Lobenthal, Don Cohen and Betsy
Kellman all have it; they're professionals
and made a big impact. We'll miss Betsy
and her high-quality performance, but
I'm sure we'll get a good replacement —
and the ADCs work will go on." ❑


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To contribute toward a hand-controlled
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get back to teaching students in local

schools not to hate, send checks made
out to Harry Weaver in care of ADL,

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