Young Detroit in Hollywood

Detroit's Jewish News features cover-story on young Jews lost to LA.

Along with most of my Jewish friends from Detroit that I grew up with, only a few returned to live in Detroit. The mass exodus of young Jews from Detroit was noted in the 2005 population survey of the Jewish community that pegged the number of Jews between the ages of 24-34 in Detroit as 2.1% of the total Jewish population. This Jewish Detroit Diaspora has settled all over – but a huge number of them are here in the LA area.

A recent event for Young Detroiters gave me a good opportunity to blog about my Shtetle: Young Detroit in Hollywood. It was featured as the cover story in the Jewish News in Detroit.

Organizers included Max Aronson, son of Bob Aronson, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit.

Max, 23, formerly of Franklin, moved to L.A. to pursue his passion for writing and currently works as an assistant to two Sony Television executives. He helped organize the July 31 bash billed as “Young Detroit in Hollywood” with two friends, Eli Sussman, 23, originally from Huntington Woods, and Aaron Kaczander, 24, who grew up in West Bloomfield.

Detroiters in huge numbers turned out for this inaugural event —featuring ex-Detroiter screen-writer/actor/director/producer Michael Binder— more than 250 according to organizers. Future events are planned, most likely with another Detroiter who has made it in the biz.

“Essentially, we started a massive snowball effect,” Kaczander said. “It culminated with us looking out at a sea of young Detroit Jews who were so eager to catch up. I think the most overheard phrase of the night was, ‘I didn’t know you lived here!’”

The first-of-its kind Federation sponsored event, funded by private contributors, was part of an aggressive new outreach campaign aimed at capturing the attention of young Detroit Jews, even thousands of miles away. The elder Aronson and several Federation staff members flew to L.A. to deliver the message personally.

Yes. The Federation and private funders put up the money for the party, because the Detroiters are still tied to Detroit. It’s kind of a 21st century landsmanschaft, Jewish benevolent society. The Detroit Jewish Fed is also doing Detroiter events in Chicago and New York.

Jewish Ex-Detroiters like myself have a religious attachement to our hometown. We have a tight-knit Jewish community, allegiance to local sports teams, and favorite bakeries, cafes, or delis. (Notice the absence of any allegiance to a synagogue or temple). When we leave Detroit, we leave close family back home – grandparents, aunts and uncles, parents, siblings and cousins. We get back for family events when we can. We try to keep up with the Tigers or Pistons. We root for U of M at the Rose Bowl. We often are connected to other Detroiters who made the move out here before us.

Will ex-Detroiters return to Detroit? Will they help to prop-up Jewish institutions they left behind? If the lesson learned from the exodus from the old country can be used as a model – the chances are that a sma

ll number will return, but that the majority will support the community from afar. The Jews who left Warsaw, Lodz, and Lvov never planned on returning, but sought greener pastures, economically and socially, in the Golden Land.

The Jews who left West Bloomfield, Birmingham, Southfield, or Bloomfield Hills, left for the greener pastures of Hollywoodland. Most are going to stay and put down roots.

My Detroiter street cred: Zeemans, Hillel Day School, Cranbrook, grandma at The Heritage, Tigers, Camp Tavor – I won’t mention the Synagogue.

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President of Religious Zionists of America on Obama

Rabbi Yosef Blau

Rabbi Yosef Blau

I have known Rabbi Blau for many years and have a great deal of respect for him.  He is a major orthodox thinker, a scholar, outspoken Zionist, and mensch.

Obama And A Wary Jewish Establishment

From The Jewish Week

Rabbi Yosef Blau is the director of religious guidance at Yeshiva University and president of the Religious Zionists of America.

For the past 16 years, the leaders of the Jewish establishment of this country, primarily concerned with Israel, have been comfortable with the American president. Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, despite their policy differences, were acknowledged friends of Israel. While the American people, unhappy with the Iraq war, apparently want a change in foreign policy, Jewish leaders are looking for continuity.

Sen. Barack Obama is both relatively unknown to the broader Jewish community and stands for change. His personal background is unusual, and his acceptance of his black identity occurred at a time when black-Jewish relations were tense. Not surprisingly, the Jewish establishment is suspicious and is not satisfied by his public record of support for Israel. The lack of significant differences between his policy papers and those of his opponents does little to allay fears.

Obama’s association with The Rev. Jeremiah Wright and other controversial figures who are part of the South Side of Chicago community has been subject to far greater scrutiny than questionable pastors and extremists of the right or left with connections to Senators Clinton and McCain. After Obama’s public denunciation of Rev. Wright, the letters published in The New York Times that criticized it as too little and too late, came from people with Jewish names. The rumor that Obama is a secret Muslim is still taken seriously by many Jews.

One can question whether Obama’s non-confrontational approach is appropriate for dealing with Iran, much as one can differ with other positions that he favors. If the issues were analyzed on their merits, Jews would split the same way that other groups in the general society divide. Among younger, less affiliated Jews this is probably what is happening. The impression gleaned from the Jewish media is one of stronger opposition to Obama by Jews than what is indicated by polls of Jewish voters. Read more


I’m testing here the mobile blogging on the iPhone. What else to blog about than elections. It’s good to be reminded that both candidates are human.

At an event today, friends were recounting with joy the lines that Guliani delivered up against Obama. Stinging and funny, they felt that Guliani scored big points.

I didn’t have the heart to tell them at a simcha, a celebration, just how I feel about Guliani, or that you cAn’t believe everything you hear.

The level of fiction being touted as fact is impressive

I did get them to concede that Obama was not an idiot. You don’t become editor of the Harvard Law Review by being dumb.

Anyway more soon…


Bear activists less than excited about Palin candidacy

This list of reasons against Sarah Palin is from a group of her opponents in Alaska that run a Pro-Bear website:

The top 10 things you should know about Sarah Palin:

1) She is presently under investigation in Alaska for abuse of power
2) She believes creationism should be taught in public schools
3) She is opposed to abortion even in cases of rape and incest
4) She is a champion for big oil and supports drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and everywhere else
5) Less than two years ago she was only the mayor of a small Alaskan town
6) She believes global warming is a farce
7) In 2007 she put out a bounty on wolves paying $150 for turning in legs of freshly killed wolves
8) She is opposed to listing the polar bear as an endangered species
9) She supports aerial hunting of bears and wolves even though Alaskans voted twice to ban the practice
10) She used $400,000 of state money to fund a media campaign in support of aerial hunting