Earlier in this issue (on page 12), you may have read about the service of Detroit Jewish community leader Larry Jackier to the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. His colleagues at the Jackier Gould law office in Bloomfield Hills and at the American Technion Society are celebrating his 12 years as chair of the Technion Board of Governors.
As chair, he led those who oversee the university’s programs and finances as well as its president and officers. As someone who spent 30 years working at Wayne State University and the University of Michigan, I know this is a big, big job, one that takes a tremendous amount of time, work and dedication (along with accumulating massive frequent flier miles!) So, to say the least, Jackier can claim a major contribution to Technion’s great success over the past decade-plus.
The Technion began as an idea that Jews needed their own technical institute and it should be in Palestine. In March 29, 1908, the notion of Technion — or a Technikum in German, the original language of Technion — was formed.
The cornerstone to the physical university was laid on April 11, 1912, in Haifa, where the university still stands. Albert Einstein was an early supporter and planted the first palm tree on campus, which is still there. From humble but determined beginnings, Technion has grown to rank among the leading research universities in the world. It is a leader in many fields, including biotechnology, its students build satellites, and two of its professors were the first to bring Nobel Prizes for science to Israel. A third soon followed.
I went into the William Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History to see what I could find on the history of Technion and, more importantly, the critical connections between it and Jewish Detroit. I was not disappointed by the JN’s reporting on Technion: It was cited 3,677 times.
In short, one can easily find plenty of evidence that Jewish Detroiters were keen supporters of Technion. When the American Technion Society (ATS) was formed in 1940, the Detroit chapter followed that same year. The list of local contributors to Technion at the time is a who’s who of Jewish leaders including Albert Kahn, Fred Butzel, Rabbi Morris Adler and JN editor/publisher Philip Slomovitz.
There were many other supporters. A report in the Dec. 11, 1953, issue of the JN, for example, cited the $75,000 donation from Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Brody, considered at the time to be the largest sum ever donated by Detroit Jews for educational purposes to that date. In today’s dollars, that is about $700,000. The Detroit ATS Chapter sent $160,000 to Technion that year or more than $1.5 million in today’s dollars. Other early supporters of Technion included Joseph H. and Edythe Jackier. It seems Larry is carrying on his family’s legacy and then some.
The story of Technion is an impressive one. It is still a young university when compared to Oxford, Harvard or even the University of Michigan. Since its first students entered the doors of Technion, however, they and their professors have had a wonderful record of accomplishments.
Jewish Detroiters can also take great pride in Technion and its leadership, including that of Larry Jackier, who recently was succeeded as chair by Scott Leemaster, another Detroiter.
Want to learn more? Go to the DJN Foundation archives, available for free at www.djnfoundation.org.