- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 13, 2015

OAK PARK, Mich. (AP) - Some members of the Jewish community want to keep a financially-troubled community center north of Detroit open.

About 800 people voiced opposition at a packed public discussion Monday night at the Jewish Community Center in Oak Park, the Detroit Free Press reported (https://on.freep.com/14uwybv ).

Officials from the center and the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit have recommended closing the Jimmy Prentis Morris Building because it is losing as much as $1 million each year. Residents in and around Oak Park said the closure would hurt the Orthodox and less wealthy people in the community.

Some complain that JCC resources are being used for programs in communities where more affluent Jews live. Alan Hitsky, of nearby Southfield, said Monday that those in charge are “only caring about the country-club set instead of worrying about those in need.”

Early last year, an accounting firm reported that the JCC’s Oak Park campus was losing from $800,000 to $1 million per year. The Oak Park branch is the organization’s older and smaller building. The main campus is in West Bloomfield.

Some people at Monday’s meeting suggested establishing a grassroots campaign to raise money to save the center. But efforts to save the building likely would be independent of the JCC, according to center officials.

“Something has to be done to save it,” said Tova Schreiber, 26, of Oak Park. “It provides a very valuable service for different segments of the community.”

Jewish Federation Chief Executive Scott Kaufman said the organization is not abandoning the neighborhood.

“We’re going to continue servicing the community, but at a price we can afford,” Kaufman said.

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Information from: Detroit Free Press, https://www.freep.com

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