These Detroiters — and many more — share a birthdate with the JN.
They were born the same year as the Jewish News, and matured along with the newspaper. They have strong memories of growing up in Detroit’s Jewish community. Some graduated from Mumford High, located in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood of Northwest Detroit, and some from Oak Park High, which was the “new” Jewish high school in the late 1950s. They have stayed in this area because of their roots, their families or simply because it’s home. Here is a snapshot of a few members of the “Class of 1960,” who, like the Jewish News, celebrate 75th birthdays this year.
Larry Jackier, a practicing attorney from West Bloomfield, grew up in the Greenacres subdivision southeast of Eight Mile and Livernois. He graduated from Pasteur Elementary School, Mumford High (where he was captain of the tennis team) and the University of Michigan, then turned down Harvard Law School to attend Yale. He practiced law with his father for 19 years. Jackier’s parents met at the University of Michigan and had no family in Detroit when they decided to settle here.
“The Detroit Jewish community was our family, and we couldn’t have asked for anything better,” he said.
Few of the people he knew well growing up have left, he said. Jackier has served the Jewish community here and in Israel. He is a past president of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit and chair of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology international board, among many other positions.
The Jewish News helped his family follow what was happening in the local community as well as around the world, particularly in Israel, he said. The JN is the “glue that keeps the Jewish community together.”
Penny Fishman Brode of Farmington Hills retired from teaching and now works as a manufacturer’s rep. Born in Pittsburgh, she moved to Detroit as a child. After she finished elementary school at MacCulloch, her family moved to Oak Park, where she attended junior and senior high school. She went to college at Wayne State.
Fishman relishes memories of Saturday matinees at the Avalon Theater and being able to walk without worry to Northland mall, the ice rink and the library. She often took buses Downtown to shop or see a show.
When she was newly married, she turned to the Jewish News to see the engagement, wedding and birth announcements. “I once found a job listed in the classified section,” she said. She enjoys being part of the Detroit Jewish community, which she sees as “generous, active and committed.”
Barbara “Bunny” Kukes Kratchman of Bloomfield Hills is a former director of the Michigan Council for the Arts and founder and retired president of ArtServe Michigan. She is on the boards of Detroit Public Television, Michigan Opera Theatre and Interlochen Center for the Arts. She is also involved in Kadima and the Andrew Kukes Foundation for Social Anxiety.
She grew up in Detroit and graduated from Mumford High and the University of Michigan.
Although she moved in wider circles for most of her professional life, the Detroit Jewish community provided the warmth, comfort and love that made it feel like home. “Many times, we have thought about moving to California to be closer to our young grandchildren, but we always come back to the fact that this is our home, our memories, our friends, our community,” she said.
She has fond memories of reading the Jewish News every week — from back to front!
James “Jimmy” Zack of Franklin, a certified public accountant, graduated from Mumford and went off to Ferris State College. A highlight of his life was serving as president of JARC.
He says he has wonderful memories of Detroit from his youth and stays here because “this is my home.”
Zack says the Jewish News has great value in keeping readers up to date with what’s happening in the community.
Barbara Hillman Eisenberg of Bingham Farms graduated from Oak Park High School before earning an art education degree from University of Michigan and a master’s in social work from Wayne State. She is a retired clinical social worker.
Family was very important to her while growing up. “I can easily visualize my maternal grandfather reclining in his chair at the head of the Passover table,” she said. She appreciates the education she received in Michigan and in retirement is returning to art.
Dealing with loss and change can be depressing, but her four grandchildren “challenge our aging with their vitality.” Eisenberg says she has developed a very satisfying sense of patience over the years, which affects how she is seen and how she views life. She never considered leaving Detroit, and says her husband, Gary, feels the same way. “The Jewish community of Metropolitan Detroit is an organizing force in our social and family life,” she said.
Eisenberg says she can’t remember when the JN wasn’t part of the “beginning of the weekend” at home. They now have it delivered to their winter home in Florida. “I am always happy to see the JN on newsstands around town,” she said. “Its presence makes a loud statement of ‘Here I am!’”
Stan Dorfman moved to Oak Park with his family in 1956 and graduated from Oak Park High School. He went on to Wayne State for undergraduate and medical school, and after two years in the U.S. Air Force, joined the staff at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Pontiac as an ob/gyn. He retired from private practice in 2009 but continues to serve as director of the hospital’s medical school program.
There were so many kids on his Detroit block that there was always someone to play with, Dorfman recalled. “We were always outside, both day and evening. Our neighborhoods were safe; our house doors were open and our mothers did not ever worry where we were as long as we were home for dinner,” he said.
In the late 1940s, his father brought home the first television on the block: an 8-inch, black-and-white Admiral. “I became the king of the block and everyone used to come over to watch The Lone Ranger,” he said.
Television made quite a different impact in the late 1950s and 1960s, as he watched coverage of the civil rights struggles in the South. He says the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, the war in Vietnam, the Detroit riots of 1968 and other events spelled the end of the simple and happy years of his childhood.
Dorfman remembers his mother reading the Jewish News every week. Echoing Jackier, he says the paper is the “glue” that keeps the community together.
“The Jewish News crosses all of the different levels of Judaism, from the ultra-Orthodox to those with no affiliation who still consider themselves Jewish either by birth or tradition,” he said.
[similar id=42712 type=all]
At the JN Legacy Gala May 3 at Congregation Shaarey Zedek marking the paper’s 75th anniversary, Class of 1960 graduates will be recognized. The event features a strolling dinner, program and a performance by the Grammy Award-winning Klezmatics. For tickets, go to djnfoundation.org or contact Tessa Goldberg at (248) 351-5108 or firstname.lastname@example.org.