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February 13, 2014 - Image 30

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2014-02-13

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Essay

Editorial

sun-Splashed Outreach

Poverty In Israel:
A Pressing Matter

Floridians with Motor City roots —
a growing focus of Jewish Detroit.

Boca Raton, Fla.

Detroit Jewish community. They remain
involved strategically, philanthropically
and as volunteers. Many of their children
are leaders or active in Jewish Detroit.
Israel helps bind the generations. This is a
story that Detroit Jews can feel good about
despite having to face all sorts
of challenges, including tighter
communal budgeting and a
beleaguered central city

hey came to learn, reconnect and
shmooze in Palm Beach County
at a reunion of Detroit Jews who
now live or spend winters in south Florida,
or who were just visiting the
Sunshine State.
The attraction: SAJE in
the Sun, cosponsored by the
Jewish Community Center of
Metropolitan Detroit and Wayne
State University's Cohn-Haddow
SAJE in the Sun was spun from
Center for Judaic Studies.
the JCC's long popular Seminars
The intent: to keep Detroit-
for Adult Jewish Enrichment
rooted Floridians engaged with
'
(SAJE), which evolved from a
the JCC, Cohn-Haddow and
midwinter learning experience
Robert Sklar
Jewish Detroit while providing
to year-round offerings.
Contri buting
learning enrichment and an
The spinoff came in response
Ed i for
afternoon to socialize.
to the influx of Jewish Detroiters
About 240 people gathered
flocking to south Florida. It typi-
on a picture-perfect day at the Polo Club in
cally attracts 200 participants looking for
Boca Raton to mingle over munchies and
Jewish programming framed in a reminder
watch the documentary Torn. It's the com-
of "back home
pelling story of a Catholic priest who dis-
There's definitely room to grow all of
covers at his mother's deathbed he was born our institutional outreach. My guess is that
to Jewish parents just before the Holocaust.
south Florida, the Gulf coast included, is
The film traces Romuald Waszkinel's spiri-
the winter home to at least a few thousand
tual journey as well as the tug between his
Detroiters for various durations of time.
Catholic upbringing and Jewish roots.
Nancy Finkel, a SAJE
Afterward, Cohn-
committee member from
Haddow director Howard
Bloomfield Hills, is a
Lupovitch, who holds a
regular SAJE in the Sun
doctorate in Jewish his-
attendee with her hus-
tory, moderated a panel
band, Harold. They win-
discussion between Rabbi
ter in Lake Worth. "SAJE
Howard Shapiro and
in the Sun is a great
Thomas O'Brien, a canon, Nancy Finkel
opportunity to see old
Howard
or lay leader, within
friends and be informed
Lupovitch
the Episcopal Church.
about what's happening
Shapiro and O'Brien co-
back in Detroit:' she said.
teach interfaith classes at Florida Atlantic
Carol Weintraub Fogel
of West Bloomfield first
University.
pitched SAJE in the Sun
I co-chaired this seventh SAJE in the
after attending a JCC
Sun event with my sister-in-law, Elaine
biennial gathering in
Sturman. We both are Michigan and
Florida residents.
Philadelphia. "I was talk-
Carol
SAJE in the Sun is just one example of
ing to a past director of
Weintraub
communal outreach to Floridians linked
a JCC in the Boca area
Fogel
whose family still lived
to Michigan. The Jewish Federation of
Metropolitan Detroit, Jewish Senior Life of
in Detroit:' she recalled. "That connection
Metropolitan Detroit and at least two syna-
with the Jewish community was amazing
gogues, Temple Israel and Shaarey Zedek,
to me. That is when I realized there was
tremendous potential for programming for
also strive to appeal to them, as do other
Michigan institutions.
our snowbirds:'
The goal is to keep a Florida footprint
SAJE in the Sun donor and sponsorship
not so much out of fear of losing significant levels generate $5,000 to $7,000 a year for
donor support to Florida charities, but
JCC arts, culture and educational program-
rather to sustain the vibrancy of Detroit as
ming. Tickets and JCC funding pay for
a region among Jews who have ties to both
SAJE in the Sun.
states.
Professor Lupovitch was eager to have
Florida snowbirds and transplants
Cohn-Haddow join the JCC as SAJE in the
include many builders of our wonderful
Sun sponsor this year. Many SAJE in the

The JCC's Mort Plotnick with snowbird
Rita Haddow. She's the sister of Federal
Judge Avern Cohn of Detroit and widow
of John Haddow. The Cohn-Haddow
families endowed the Cohn-Haddow
Center at WSU.

Sun guests are Wayne State alumni, giving
him a ready source for new donors. But
Lupovitch says he's more interested "in
fulfilling Cohn-Haddow's mission to be
an intellectual resource for all Jews in and
from Detroit, and also to involve snowbirds
and alumni in the revival of both Jewish
Detroit and the Jewish presence on the
Wayne State campus:'

Thp Linkc

Eight years ago, the JCC teed off the JCC
Michigan-Florida Golf Classic, Games and
Reunion Dinner. It typically draws 100 golf-
ers and generates $30,000 for scholarships
for JCC day campers as well as day-care and
special-needs participants. Non-golfers can
play cards. Yes, it's a day of fun and games,
but it's ultimately a day dedicated to assur-
ing kids enjoy brighter times. Ticket sales
cover the event cost.
Says event coordinator Mort Plotnick, a
Boca Raton snowbird with his wife, Judie:
"We know Detroiters love to get together no
matter where they are. We're seeing some
new faces and even some younger faces,
which is always good:"
The memory of Phil Minkin, a longtime
JCC supporter, will be honored at this year's
classic Tuesday, March 18, at Indian Springs
Country Club, Boynton Beach. For more
information, call Plotnick: (248) 210-8489.
The classic took flight from a smaller
charitable golf outing that a group of
Detroiters led by Bob Feldman began in
south Florida about 10 years ago.

laseilerinn larsnre

Detroit Federation development profession-
als visit Florida in a concerted way every
other year to host a significant event for up
to 175 major donors and
endowers.
"It's how we stay con-
nected, say thank you
and inform guests what's
going on back home
because of their longtime
support. It's more about
relationship building and
Stacey
Deweese
less about soliciting;

Sun-Splashed on page 31

30

February 13 • 2014

eneath the urgency of
the Israeli-Palestinian
peace standoff lurks
the reality that upwards of
a quarter of all Israelis live
in poverty. Veiled by Israel's
high-tech boom is the grim
2012 statistic, the latest avail-
able, that more than 1.7 million
Israelis were in dire financial
straits, including 817,000 chil-
dren and 180,000 seniors.
Perhaps the most striking
number in Israel's annual pov-
erty report, released by the
country's National Insurance
Institute and Central Bureau
of Statistics in December, is
439,500. That's how many
families were living below the
poverty line; they represent 19
percent of all Israeli families.
Five percent of those families
had two workers or more.
Arab families constituted
almost 37 percent of Israel's
hardship households. Not
surprisingly, the capital city
of Jerusalem, with its density
of Arabs and haredi Orthodox
Jews, claimed the highest pov-
erty rates.
In 2012, 23.5 percent of
the Israeli population was liv-
ing in poverty, down slightly
from the year before. Still,
it's shocking and shameful a
progressive nation of 8 million
people and a robust economy
carries such a high poverty
level. America, in contrast,
counts 318 million citizens; 15
percent are considered poor.
Gidi Kroch, CEO of Leket
Israel, a food rescue agency
that assists the hungry,
strongly criticized what he
termed a meek governmental
response to a lingering crisis
— stringent national security
issues notwithstanding.
He's not wrong.
A proud nation such as
Israel, one of the most techno-
logically advanced and aware
in the world, certainly boasts
the wherewithal to multitask.
Unless Jerusalem elevates
the priority level for helping
the people behind the statistics
outlined in the poverty survey,
the Jewish state may wake
up one day to find a weighty
humanitarian burden that
threatens its very existence. ❑

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