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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida.
ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
JEWISH FEDERATION OF PALM BEACH COUNTY
INTERVIEWEE: Alan L. Shulman
INTERVIEWER: Dr. Haviva D. Langenauer
DATE: December 15, 1981
PLACE: West Palm Beach, Florida
L: Thank you very much for agreeing to be interviewed, Alan. We're
interested in you because you have been president of our Federation
for a record-breaking three years. You have been deeply involved
in Jewish affairs, and you hold a number of national offices with
United Jewish Appeal. We. will ask you to talk about some of those
things. To begin with, where and when were you born?
S: I was born in New York City on April the 23rd, 1932, which means I
am approaching my 50th birthday. I was born in an area called Ridge-
wood, which is a community on the borderline between Brooklyn and
Queens, a significantly non-Jewish neighborhood, predominately pop-
ulated by German-speaking people at the time of my .birth and during
the 30s and early 40s.
L: What kind of Jewish education did you have?
S: I came from a very traditionally-oriented household, although my
mother and father were both born not only in the United States, but
in Ridgewood, New York City. My mother kept a kosher home, and I
came from a very traditional family background. As a youngster I
attended orthodox synagogue, was required to attend kheyder five days
a week, went to synagogue, of course, on Saturday, and participated
in whatever youth group existed within that very small Jewish commu-
nity, almost totally alien environment.
L: What kind of special Bar Mitzvah training did you have?
S: That's an interesting question that you ask. My father's father was
a Hebrew scholar in the true sense of the word. He spoke English,
perhaps better than I do. I don't know how many men my age can recall
a grandfather whose home contained the Encyclopedia Britannica and the
National Geographic. Both of my grandparents did not live in the Lower
East Side of New York, as most people's grandparents lived in those days.
My father's father lived in another community near the Brooklyn-Queens
borderline, and my mother's parents lived in Brownsville, Brooklyn. My
grandfather, being a scholar, and originally coming from Ridgewood, was
one of the gentlemen who were instrumental in establishing the orthodox
synagogue where my father and our family participated and were members.
And at that time, even though my grandfather lived quite a distance from
that synagogue, for as many years as I can remember going to kheyder, he
was the principal of the Hebrew school. Nothing happened concerning the
curriculum of the school unless it was approved by H. B. Shulman.
My grandfather, who had four or five grandsons, I think felt that I was
the one who was most receptive to a Jewish education. He might have
sensed that I had some feel for it, and he requested as I was approach-
ing Bar Mitzvah age, if I would give him the pleasure of teaching me
personally for my Bar Mitzvah rather than have the rabbi, or the cantor,
or the teacher, or whoever it was that taught the children at that time.
I, of course, agreed. I remember traveling to my grandfather's house
on a trolley car or two trains twice a week for a period of maybe four
or five months, so that he would be able to personally train me for my
Bar Mitzvah. I also remember that in those days a young man was expec-
ted to make a speech in the synagogue, and I had to make a speech both
in Hebrew and in English. That was quite unusual in those days. I re-
member doing it.
I also remember that one year after my Bar Mitzvah, my grandfather asked
me if I would come and spend the Shabbat with him, and stay at his home.
He was a very religious man, and I would agree to go to shul with him on
Saturday morning when my Haftorah was once again being sung. He would
make arrangements for me to have that Haftorah. It was an interesting
Haftorah, because it happened to be Shabes Roth Chodesh. I did do that,
of course, and it made him very proud, and that's an experience I don't
think I can forget very easily.
L: Do you remember other holiday observances with your grandfather, or with
your other grandparents?
S: Yes, I do. Of course I do, because every holiday was celebrated within
the family unit. I remember one Pesach Seder was held at my mother's
parents' home, and the other Seder was held at my father's parents'
home. And it was always a large family gathering. I cannot remember
any Seder which did not have a minimum of fifteen or twenty participants.
And frankly, all the children looked forward to those kinds of celebration,
because they were treated as such within the family unit. I remember
also that on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur we traditionally went to my
mother's parents who lived in Brownsville, which was about ten or twelve
miles from Ridgewood. My parents at that time would never ride on Yom
Kippur, or on Rosh Hashanah. My sister and I would sleep at my grand-
parents' home, and my mother and father, together with an aunt and uncle,
would walk back and forth from Ridgewood to Brownsville to be able to
spend the holidays together. We went to shul together, and my grandfather
in those days owned a whole bench, as they say. And that's where the
family spent the holidays.
L: In the neighborhood in which you grew up, were the friends that you had
Jewish boys and girls?
S: Yes. As I stated before, the community of Ridgewood was well-known in
and around the New York area as a bastion of Nazi support. There were
two communities in the late 30s that highlighted and sympathized with
the Nazi movement in Europe and they were Yorkville and Ridgewood. And
I remember as a little boy in the late 1930s, vivid memories, of walking
along the main shopping street in Ridgewood, which is a street called
Myrtle Avenue, and seeing members of the Nazi Bund standing on a street
corner with swastika flags, dressed in brown shirts, swastika armbands,
brown boots, parading and speechmaking with anti-Jewish sentiment pre-
vailing. There were some Jewish shopkeepers along Myrtle Avenue, and
I remember seeing swastikas on their windows. Very vivid very vivid
in my mind.
There.was a German beer hall in Ridgewood known as Schwabin Hall.
And these bullies used to parade along Myrtle Avenue until they
reached Schwabin Hall, when they would go in for whatever meetings
or whatever business they thought they had to participate in. Of
course, when the war broke out, everybody went underground.
I can also remember that many of the children of these people were
pulled out of school right after the war began. After Pearl Harbor,
when war was declared on Japan and on Germany, many of these individuals
and their families were arrested by the FBI and government officials.
The children were taken out of school. I don't know what happened to
the parents. There were stories that they found shortwave radios in
people's homes that were keeping contact with German U-boats off the
Atlantic coast. I mean, stories that many people are unaware of,
that occurred in and around the New York City area.
I also remember a great deal of anti-Semitism in that community. I
often remarked as a youngster going to heyder, one of the greatest
challenges I had every day was figuring out how I could get from the
synagogue back to my house without getting into a fight. A friend of
mine and I went to school together, and this was a challenge to us
every day. Sometimes we made it, and sometimes we didn't make it.
For many, many years, it was a part of our life.
L: Living in this Bund community is very interesting. You mentioned
that your parents came to settle in Ridgewood originally.
S: My parents were born in Ridgewood.
L: Do you know anything about the family history, about why Ridgewood
S: No, I really don't know. My father's family is originally from Riga,
Latvia. I know that my grandfather, when he first came to the United
States (I think he was sixteen or seventeen years of age when he arrived
from Riga) went to the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, area. A great deal of
my father's family lived there, and to this day still reside in the
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, area. What brought him back to New York,
I really don't recall. My grandfather was an insurance agent, even
though for most of my memory is such that he was a sick man. I knew
he had a heart condition. He spent most of his time at home, and a
good bit of his time studying, writing.
I think I mentioned to you once that my grandfather was somewhat
instrumental in the modernization of the Hebrew language. I remember
as a boy being at his home, and being in the company of one or two
gentlemen who would come to visit with him. He was considered a
grammarian. They would give him a verb, and his job would be to
conjugate that verb as part of the movement to modernize Hebrew as
L: When you were growing up, where did you look for Jewish friends in
S: There were two synagogues in Ridgewood, both of which were orthodox
synagogues. *And it so happens that the one which had the youth club
was the one that my father was not a member of; however, I attended.
I became a member of that Jewish youth group in that synagogue, and
spent most of my free time participating in the activities and joining
with the other Jewish boys and'girls within the Ridgewood community.
L: We haven't talked about the other members of your family.
S: I have only one sister. My sister is two years my senior. We did
many things together, however. It was interesting that my sister and
I went to college together. Although I grew up in Ridgewood, I was
very fortunate. I was given the opportunity, through a special edu-
cational program that I was involved with, to attend any high school
of my choice.
In those days if you lived in a particular community, you had to go
to the high school located within the geographic boundaries of that
community. But I was fortunate, and I had an opportunity to choose
otherwise. I chose to go to a Tilden High School in East Flatbush.
One of the reasons I chose to go to Tilden is it was fairly proximate
to Ridgewood. It only required my taking two buses, and it was no
more than a 40 or 45 minute trip a day each way. They were one of
the few schools in the New York Metropolitan area that offered Hebrew
as a language, and I wanted to study Hebrew as a language in high
school. That's why I chose Tilden.
After graduating from Tilden, I went to Brooklyn College. My sister
and I went to Brooklyn College together. From Brooklyn College I went
on to Brooklyn Law School, and then I practiced law in New York for
many years before deciding to move to the Palm Beach area in 1969.
L: I just want to backtrack a little bit. You mentioned that you had youth
clubs in the synagogue and I think you have a story about how youth clubs
S: Oh, yes. The Men's Club of that Orthodox synagogue was trying in every
way possible to have the young Jewish boys in the community participate
in the services. And they knew that we had a baseball team and a bas-
ketball team; we always needed new equipment. And I remember them coming
to our meeting one day and, I wouldn't say "bribing" us, but making us
a proposition that was very difficult for us to turn down. And the pro-
position was a very simple one; they knew we played baseball every Sunday
morning, and they knew we started the game about 9:00 or 9:30 in the
morning. They said if we would agree to come to the minyan on Sunday
morning, they would do two things for us. They would supply the food:
lox, cream cheese, bagels and what have you, and then after a period of
time, when we demonstrated that a sufficient number of members of the
team were responsive to their request, they would agree to raise the
necessary funds from within the Men's Club to buy us new equipment,
like bats and balls. And, if my memory serves me correctly, they even
agreed to participate in the buying of jackets for our team. We took
them up on their offer. It was a very, very interesting kind of ex-
L: When you were in college, were you a member of any youth groups?
Any Jewish clubs?
S: No, I was not. Brookyn College was a good hour-and-a-quarter trip from
Ridgewood. Brooklyn College is a subway school, and I spent most of my
time studying and preparing for law school, which is what I wanted to
L: You certainly had a very intense Jewish upbringing in your early life.
Would you say that that was an influence on how you developed later on?
S: I don't think there's any question, but that the influences of my
childhood and my attachment to everything that was Jewish was ingrained
in my very soul.
I remember in the late 1930s, although my father was not a wealthy man
by any stretch of the imagination, both he and my grandfather were
very, very active in preparing affidavits for rescuing members of the
family or other mishpochah from Riga or from other communities which were
experiencing the Nazi incursion into all of Europe. And I remember my
father spending a great deal of time in discussions and preparations
in actions along those lines. I also remember my mother there was a
women's organization called Ivria, and I believe that they have a slogan,
something that went along the lines of "The Jewish mothers of today,
for the Jewish children of tomorrow". My mother was very active. She
was president of the local Ivria Chapter. I would say that Judaism and
the traditions of Judaism were literally a part of my life, and I don't
think a day would go by when there wasn't some aspect of Judaism that
did not touch our daily lives.
L: At one point in your early career, you became affiliated with Rabbi
Jacob Joseph Yeshiva.
S: Yes, the Rabbi Jacob Joseph Yeshiva is the oldest Hebrew Day School
in the United States, and probably one of the most orthodox. When I
was practicing law in New York, I had a very dear client who is still
a dear, dear friend, who himself was a graduate of the RJJ and was most
anxious to have me get involved. I agreed, and for many years I served
on their Board of Directors and was very active in their fundraising
activities. People used to question me. I was a very young man. They
knew that I, myself, was not a graduate of the Yeshiva. What motivated
me to spend the amount of time and personal resources in connection with
the support of this school?
My answer then was that I felt very strongly that they were doing
a remarkable job in turning out outstanding graduates. I also felt
that even though they were an ultra-Orthodox Yeshiva, they had been
around in their concept of Judaism for lots of years, and whether I
agreed a hundred percent with what they believed in, or whether I
wanted personally to participate, I felt an obligation to support
their right to do what they wanted, because they had demonstrated
through the years that they were the foundation for the perpetuation
L: What brought you to Palm Beach County?
S: I got involved in the hotel business about 21 years ago, while still
practicing law in Manhattan. Amongst the properties and developments
that our company was involved with, was a development here in Palm Beach
County, and so I had been coming here for business reasons for many years
prior to our relocating in the community. And in 1969, I decided that
I wanted to make a change, and I made an arrangement with my former law
partner. I withdrew from that firm, picked up my family, and we moved
to Palm Beach.
L: How did you find friends in this community?
S: Well, the truth of the matter is I think certain people found us.
Never having lived in a small community such as Palm Beach, and Palm
Beach in 1969 was vastly different than what it is today. I believe
at the time there were 4,500 Jewish people in all of Palm Beach County,
and, as we all know, there are probably 75,000 or 80,000 Jews today in
Palm Beach County. My wife happened to meet Rhoda Cole. We lived at
the Towers in Palm Beach for a year, rented an apartment there while we
were building a home. And I believe Rhoda had an office there, and
Barbara happened to meet her, and she invited us to her home. Through
the Coles we met Jeanne and Irwin Levy and some other people, and they
were very, very gracious in welcoming a relatively young, new couple
into the Palm Beach community.
And I remember the first week we were here, we went over to the Conser-
vative congregation of Beth El, and I immediately became a member, be-
cause I had been a member of the Park Avenue synagogue in Manhattan prior
to moving to Palm Beach. Before that, when Barbara and I and our family
lived in Westchester, we had been members of Temple Israel in White Plains,
which is a very large Conservative congregation. I think it was only
natural that we would have gravitated to a synagogue immediately.
L: Did you become active in Jewish affairs after you came down?
S: Well, as soon as we came in, I did become somewhat active in the Temple
activities. I think within a year or so after we had arrived, I was
serving as a member of the Board of Trustees of Temple Beth El. I remem-
ber, while still living at the Towers (which means that we moved in there
in August of 1969), being approached by some gentleman (I guess it was in
the winter of 1970) to make a gift to Federation and UJA, which I made,
because I remember them soliciting me in my apartment at the Towers.
It was not, however, until perhaps four or five years thereafter that
I became deeply involved in Federation and UJA activities within our
L: When was your first trip to Israel?
S: The first trip I took to Israel was in 1964, which again was quite un-
usual because in 1964 it was not usual for a young couple to choose to
go to Israel for a vacation. When Barbara and I decided that we would
take an extended vacation, we decided to combine it with a trip to France
and a trip to Italy. I was most anxious to go to Israel because I came
from that kind of background. Barbara, on the other hand, really
couldn't care one way or the other.
Today, as you know, she's very involved, and has been for many, many
years, but she does not come from the same kind of traditional background
I come from. And so the pull and attachment and emotional feeling to go
to Israel simply was not there. Once I got her there, however, it was
difficult for me to get her to leave the country. She felt that she
would have preferred us moving to Israel. It was a place where she felt
she would like to bring up her children. That, of course, was not a
practical consideration for us at that time. But I think that exper-
ience acted as the catalyst for Barbara's involvement in Jewish concerns
and Jewish activities for the last 18, 20 years.
L: Do you remember any of your early impressions of Israel?
S: Yes, I do. One of the reasons why I wanted to go to Israel is, I had
one aunt who was a relative (my mother's relative, the only surviving
relative from the community of Vi3na, where my mother's parents came
from), who left Poland and was able to make it to Israel. She, herself,
was a pharmacist. She worked for the Kuppat Cholim in Israel. Barbara
and I spent a great deal of time with her. Thank God that I could speak
some Yiddish. My grandmother used to speak with me at home only in Yid-
dish, so that I would learn to speak that language. Not having used it
in so many years, I hardly remember anything. But I remember many
afternoons discussing my aunt's experiences in Europe. She was a woman
who, unfortunately, could never accept the fact that she had been chosen
to survive, and everybody else in the family were killed. This left a
great cloud over her own personality, and it was difficult for the family
to know how to treat that situation.
But to get back to your question, my initial impressions of Israel were
somewhat overwhelming. The food was awful in 1964. Accommodations were
spartan, but there was a spirit in that country. If you had any feeling
whatsoever for your own heritage and your own sense of tradition, there
was a magnetic pulling that I felt, and I know that Barbara felt, that
they were simply going to make it. And I think at that point we decided,
each of us in our own way, that whatever we might contribute toward that
end we were simply going to do.
L: I know that there is a kindergarten that bears your name today in
S: Yes. A number of years ago, Barbara and I talked about doing some-
thing a little unique for Israel, and we talked about building an
educational institution. And Barbara said that really would make her
very, very happy. We talked about building a kindergarten or a pre-
kindergarten. Finally, two or three years ago, we decided to embark
on a project through the Israel Education Fund, which is a part of
the United Jewish Appeal. On one of Barbara's trips to Israel she
actually picked the site, in a community called Yehud, which is lo-
cated some 15 minutes outside of Tel Aviv. After negotiating with
the Israel Education Fund and their engineers, we chose a particular
design for a pre-kindergarten, and the building was built in record
time, nine or ten months, and by Israeli standards that's remarkable.
In the summer of 1980, Barbara and I went to Israel along with our
three children, our two sons-in-law, our granddaughter, Barbara's
parents, my parents and an aunt and uncle. We went to dedicate this
school for this community. It was one of the most overwhelming expe-
riences that I could ever imagine. The entire town of Yehud turned
out, and the officials of the Israeli government, and the Israel Edu-
cation Fund; it was a very moving event. But what I think was remark-
able is the fact that we had participating with us a cousin of my
father, who had spent 14 years in a Russian labor camp in Siberia for
being a refusenik and a Zionist sympathizer in Riga. He had arrived
in Israel four years prior to that summer. He was there with his wife
and his two children. He is a revolutionary, no question about it, and
he attended this ceremony. When he heard about it, he insisted upon
participating in the program. By the way, his name is Lovia Medallia.
Now, everybody asked how he got the name Medallia. Well, it seems that
one of the members of his family had done something for the ruling party
or ruling king of Latvia many, many centuries or years before, and he
was presented with a medal. They changed his name to Medallia, and this
is how that portion of the family wound up being the Medallia family.
Anyway, Lovia was called upon to speak as part of the ceremony. He
delivered an oration for about 20 minutes in Hebrew, which was subse-
quently translated by one of the gentlemen who was present. He spoke
of the fact that what was amazing to him was that the entire Shulman
family had literally been destroyed in Latvia, and that he couldn't
quite accept the fact that here he was living in Israel, after every-
thing he had been through, sharing with other parts of the Shulman family,
the building, an educational institution for children to once again start
this cycle all over.
From the manner in which he presented this speech, one could easily see
why he was thrown into jail for 14 years. The man speaks with the fire
of a revolutionary. That was a very moving experience, both for me and
for my family, particularly for my father.
I remember when Lovia was interned, which is really not too many years
ago, every once in awhile someone in the family would receive some kind
of correspondence that indicated that Lovia needed some kind of assist-
ance. And I remember sending packages of penicillin to him. So that
when he finally got out, was released, went on to Israel, it was a very
meaningful thing for the whole family.
L: You've had many other visits to Israel.
S: I've been to Israel 25 times. In some years I go three of four times in
a three or four-month period. The reason for so many trips is because of
my involvement with the United Jewish Appeal and with Federation here in
Palm Beach. I don't think I've made more than one or two trips for plea-
sure and vacation. All of the other trips have been combined with my re-
sponsibilities in connection with UJA and Federation activities.
L: Are there memorable impressions that stand out in your mind on any of these
trips in particular?
S: I think the most vivid impression one gets when he returns to a place like
Israel over and over again, is the tremendous changes that one sees each
time you arrive in that country. After all, in 1964, it was almost a tiny
shtetl. After 1967 we used to refer to it as "the Empire", it had grown
so quickly. The vast construction projects, and the tremendous agricultural
achievements, and the opening of Jerusalem after '67 these are impressions
that are sometimes very difficult to explain and sometimes very difficult
When I meet someone who is going to Israel for the first time, very often
I say to them I envy them and they respond, "How can you envy me, you've
been there so many times?" Well, the difference is, the experience that
he's going to have for the very first time, I can no longer share. And yet,
every time that El Al 747 flies over that coast, and they begin to play
"Haveinu Shalom" or any other Israeli or Hebrew tune, it just grabs me,
and I maintain that's a throwback to the emotional attachment and feeling
that I had as a result of the kind of background from whence I stem.
L: Could you tell me precisely what your involvement is now, in the Jewish
community? I know you have titles on the international level.
S: Well, I wouldn't say international. I am a national vice-chairman of the
United Jewish Appeal. I also serve as the regional chairman for the State
of Florida. It happens to'be Region 4, which includes the State of Florida,
Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. I also serve on the Board of Directors
of the Joint Distribution Committee, also on the Board of the Council of
Jewish Federations. And of course I continue to serve on the Board of the
Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County.
L: We haven't even talked about your three years of presidency with the local
Jewish Federation. What made you become involved on this level in Palm
S: Well, it was easy for me to recognize that the Jewish Federation of Palm
County simply represents the umbrella organization, and the address for
Jewish visibility, and Jewish presence within Palm Beach County. I felt
that if I wanted to participate and assist in the growth of the Jewish
community within this county, this was the organization that I had to
Although I have recently completed a three-year term as president of the
Federation, prior to that I was its campaign chairman for two years. So
for the last five years I have spent a tremendous amount of my own personal
time working for, and on behalf of, UJA and the Federation. And I must
tell you in all honesty, that it has probably given me a much greater sense
of satisfaction.and fulfillment than perhaps it has given the community.
L: That's hard to agree with, because you've done so much for the community.
During your three years as president, are there particular accomplishments
in your administration that you are particularly proud of?
S: Yes, there are a few that I am particularly proud of. I think that during
my administration we saw the maturing of the Jewish Community Day School
in this community. This young organization had had its difficulties in
the early years. It had its difficulties in gaining support from the
entire Jewish community, and I saw this institution as one of the prior-
ities within our Federation. It was a beneficiary agency. I personally
felt it needed the support, it needed the understanding, it needed the
sensitivity of leadership throughout the Federation. I worked very hard
toward that end.
I think that it's evident that during the three years of my administration
I've placed great emphasis on Jewish education. I believe very strongly
that that's where it simply starts, and that's where it will continue as
the means and the vehicle for assuring the perpetuity of Judaism. And I
made it a priority during my administration. The Education Committee of
Federation was given tremendous support by the Executive Committee and
the Board in connection with expansion of its programs within this commu-
nity. And I worked very hard toward that end.
The other accomplishment was the establishment of the new nursing home fa-
cility as a beneficiary agency of our Federation. It was under my adminis-
tration that the concept of developing a Jewish nursing home in Palm Beach
County began. I was somewhat instrumental in seeing that all the pieces
of the puzzle fit together, and I take a great deal of pride in the fact
that this project is under construction today. The funding for it is in
place, having gotten the community support as we had anticipated it would.
And I believe that a year or so from today, we will have an institution
in Palm Beach County to service the needs of our elderly population that
we can be proud of.
L: Do you have dreams of other institutions for the future, for our Jewish
S: Well, I think that we simply must recognize the fact that we have a
potentially great Jewish community evolving in our county because of
the lure of this part of the United States, the sunbelt, if you will.
The community of Palm Beach attracts, and has attracted, notable
Jewish personalities from throughout the United States, who choose to
spend not only their winter months in Palm Beach, but many of them
have chosen to relocate and establish permanent residence here in
Palm Beach, giving up their northern communities. The richness that
they bring to our community, and the resources that they bring, give
us an opportunity to develop such an outstanding Jewish community, that
for us just to sit by and let it happen by itself, almost is irrespon-
sible. It's going to take perhaps no more than a few individuals who
will be able to focus in the right direction of how to harness these
resources so the Jewish community can be established in Palm Beach
County and can take its place amongst the great Jewish communities of
the world. And I think we have that obligation, and we simply must
meet that challenge, because unfortunately during our lifetime, we have
seen great Jewish communities of this world literally destroyed. I
think we have the responsibility to replace those Jewish communities.
The only place where that can take place is in a new, emerging Jewish
areas of population. And it so happens that in the sunbelt, in south-
east Florida, and on the Gold Coast, Palm Beach is one of them.
L: That's a wonderful statement. I just wonder if all of this can happen
with the preponderance of older citizens that we seem to have in our
S: That's what makes it a challenge. You see, it is true that sixty percent
of the Jewish population of our county is over the age of 65. This com-
pares with other communities where the average Jewish population over the
age of 65 is about fifteen to seventeen percent. So we do have a dispro-
portionate number of older people. However, the older population, by its
very nature, attracts the young Jewish professionals who are seeking a
better place to live, a better lifestyle, and who are attracted by this
kind of an area, because there is opportunity to service the needs of the
older population. I'm talking about the doctors, the lawyers and the
accountants; the Jewish professional who sees this as an opportunity. And
these Jewish professionals bring with them a family unit, where their child-
ren will want and will demand, the kind of Jewish community that will make
them secure and happy within the Palm Beach area. And it is those families
that demand Jewish community centers. It is those families that demand a
quality Jewish community day school.
These are the responsibilities that we have, these are the challenges that
we have, and these are the kinds of resources that I'm talking about. It
isn't only the older population that is a concern, it's the younger popu-
lation, because they're the ones that we have to count on. They're the
ones that we have to look to for leadership in the future. What I'm saying
is that the combination of that youth, and the resources of the experience
of the older population, makes for an outstanding combination that we
simply must take advantage of. That's what I'm talking about.
L: There are also the many diverse strands in the community. We have the
Jews that you mentioned, the affluent Jews who come and settle in Palm
Beach, and less fortunate, perhaps, individuals. Can you see a commu-
nity formed from such diverse elements?
S: I don't consider the individuals who may not come from the same socio-
economic.strata as not being able to contribute the richness of their
experience and of their human resources. I think it takes a combination
of both. After all, we have a preponderance of former teachers from
metropolitan areas who have chosen to retire here in the Palm Beach area.
That, to me, represents a great pool of human talent. So I don't think
that's a negative at all. The fact that we have, perhaps, a diverse
economic group of people only makes it more interesting.
L: Jewish communities in the past have had what you might call a Jewish
neighborhood; that doesn't seem to be true here. How does that affect
S: Well, I think it makes it somewhat more difficult to be Jewish when we
live in communities such as the communities of the Palm Beaches. I think
when one lived in a metropolitan area such as New York or any major city,
the truth of the matter is that we grew up in ghettos. They might have
been lovely ghettos, but they were ghettos, where most everyone whose
lives we touched, whether it be at school or at play or what have you,
were Jewish. They all did the same things we did, they all went to the
same Temple, they went to the same club, they celebrated the same holi-
days at the same time. That's not the case here; it's a bit more diffi-
cult to be Jewish when you live in societies such as this. There are
options available to the Jews who live in Palm Beach communities. That's
what makes our challenge even greater. We have to develop the kind of
Jewish community, the kind of attractive Jewish community that will entice
the Jewish population from within this community to participate in things
that are Jewish, because there's a joy to participating in what is Jewish.
Not out of obligation, but because there's meaning to it, and there's re-
ward for it. This is the challenge.
I remember that I delivered a speech at a dedication not too long ago,
in which I talked about the richness of Judaism, and the traditions and
the heritage, and what I was really saying is that I simply do not believe
in the survival of Judaism for survival's sake only. I believe that the
survival of Judaism is based upon perpetuating a concept and a feeling
and a richness, something that's worthwhile. And I think what we have
to build in the Palm Beach community is a richness of a Jewish.community
that will be attractive to all Jewish people living here, so that they
won't want the alternative, and they will want what is theirs.
L: Thank you very much for this interview, Alan. I appreciate your taking