The voice of Sen. Levin, his work on behalf of the community, his care and concern for Michiganians all serve as a role model to public servants.
The night I learned that Sen. Carl Levin had passed away I did not feel shock but tremendous sadness and loss. His death marked the end of an era and the passing of a longtime friendship with the Jewish Community Relations Council, now known as JCRC/AJC, the Jewish Community Relations Council/American Jewish Committee.
As a past president of the organization, I recall a very cold winter day, probably in the 1980s, going with Jewish community leaders and leaders of the Arab American community to discuss the burgeoning of an organization linking Arab Americans and Jewish Americans who were working on local issues of importance to both groups.
Sen. Levin offered his help in any way possible. This came as no surprise. Sen. Levin was later honored by the organization as was his sister and brother.
The senator was no stranger to making alliances or to working with people of all backgrounds and all races, ethnicities and religions. He was non-judgmental, open to ideas, but not willing to compromise his basic beliefs. He was truly “our” senator because community relations work in the Jewish community is committed to those very same practices.
Carl Levin was a bridge builder so the relationship with our agency was a perfect fit. The agency’s role in the community is to build bridges, alliances and coalitions between the Jewish community and other communities. Sen. Levin assisted us in those efforts.
During those same years, Sen. Levin met frequently with advocates working to free Jews in the Soviet Union known as “Refuseniks.” He signed every petition and visited with people who had been freed but had been forced to leave loved ones behind. He spoke tirelessly on behalf of the cause of religious freedom and particularly for Refuseniks.
Much of the work Sen. Levin did on behalf of the Jewish community and all Detroiters was done quietly, with little or no fanfare or publicity. It was the well-
being of the people that drove him. So, for us, a call to our senator was not difficult — we knew the answer would be, “I’ll do what I can.” And he did. Michigan has a history of ethical leadership in the Senate. We had Sen. Phil Hart. And we had Sen. Carl Levin. Neither can be replaced.
The voice of Sen. Levin, his work on behalf of the community, his care and concern for Michiganians all serve as a role model to public servants. We will miss him, but we are committed as never before to continue his legacy.
Jeannie Weiner is past president of the JCRC/AJC.