Hundreds gather to save Detroit-area JCC

Gabe Friedman

(JTA) – Hundreds showed up at the Jewish community center in the Detroit suburb of Oak Park in an effort to save the building.

Some 800 people, the maximum number allowed in the JCC building, showed up at a discussion Monday night to protest the center’s closing, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Leaders of the center and the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit recommended that the building be shut down by May because it is losing approximately $1 million a year.

Residents at Monday night’s meeting such as Alan Hitsky, 69, accused the area’s Jewish leaders of “only caring about the country-club set instead of worrying about those in need.”

Others proposed starting a grassroots funding campaign; one woman wrote a $1,000 check.

“We’re not abandoning this neighborhood,” Scott Kaufman, CEO of the area’s Jewish federation, told the Detroit Free Press. “We’re going to continue servicing the community, but at a price we can afford.”

The JCC’s financial problems surfaced in late 2013 when an oversight committee composed of JCC and federation leaders calculated the center’s debt at $6 million.

Another public meeting at the JCC will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday.