Peiser and Wineman, Detroit Aid Leaders, Show Their Mettle
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Peiser and Wineman, Detroit Aid Leaders, Show Their Mettle

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The third member of that famed trio—Faith, Hope and Charity—has a couple of grand young knights to preserve and enhance her reputation in that city of wheels, gears and mechanical wizardry, Detroit.

New York has heard about the feats of Henry T. Wineman and Kurt Peiser before. Recently it had a chance to gauge their mettle at close range—and the duo from the shores of Lake Michigan was not found wanting.

At the national conference on Jewish welfare a few days back, the men of the motor city acquitted themselves nobly and left the unmistakable impression that the sister of Faith and Hope was in excellent hands in that lake city.


Wineman is the elder of the pair. As he presided at one of the round-table discussions during the conference, he gave the impression of an instructor in sociology keeping an adult class of students from becoming too spirited in their discussion of some moot point. Tall, thin, scholarly, wearing glasses, thin face with ruddy cheeks, he presided with grace and intelligence that won the respect of a large group of social workers recruited from all over the country.

When the discussion threatened to get away from the point at issue, he directed it back to its proper channels. When it seemed on the point of lagging, he delved into his experience and brought up another angle of the question that sent the welfare executives hopping from their chairs for recognition by the chair.

Wineman’s experience in welfare work goes back twenty-three years —to the time when he was graduated from the University of Michigan in 1901.

“I was more or less dragged into it,” he says with a grin that makes the listener think he’s probably spoofing.


But whether or not Wineman had to be dragged into welfare work twenty-three years ago, it is quite apparent that he has remained in it of his own volition and only some unusual circumstances could drag him from the work. Since the inception of the Jewish Welfare Federation of Detroit in 1922, he has been president of that body. The Federation was organized following a survey of the Detroit Jewish community and its philanthropic situation, made possible by funds provided by the Wineman family.

Mr. Wineman was married within a short time after graduation from Michigan. He has two children. His wife is also unusually active in social welfare fields, being president of the commission of Detroit’s Department of Public Welfare.

Aside from his business — he heads the People’s Outfitting Company of Detroit—and his activities on behalf of Federation, his only hobbies are golfing and piano playing. He has never devoted himself seriously to either, his motto evidently being “everything in moderation.”


Kurt Peiser is executive director of the Jewish Welfare Federation of which Wineman is president. He came to Detroit, he said, because he was specially interested in the unique problem offered by labor conditions there, in which seasonal employment and consequent unemployment is the feature. He has occupied that post for the past two and a half years, coming to it {SPAN}###er{/SPAN} sixteen years divided between Cincinnati, Milwaukee and Cleveland in similar jobs.

Like Wineman, Peiser is a graduate of the University of Michigan. He won his A. B. in 1917 and received his master’s degree the following year. While at that university, Peiser did more than major in sociology—he was an active believer in the theory that a healthy mind resides in a healthy body, so he took his buffetings on the football squad and pounded the leather spheroid and ran the bases for alma mater.

And, although he doesn’t say it, he must have been a pretty fair athlete, judging from his trim, well-built, well-muscled figure.


One of Kurt’s chief relaxations is bridge. He confessed without apology that he used the one-over-one system of bidding. Golf is another hobby, but what system he uses for breaking 100 he wouldn’t divulge, unless clouting the ball and hoping it doesn’t land in the lake is a system.

Why Kurt has made such an outstanding success of his job at Detroit is readily understandable when one considers two incidents in his career that former associates of his relate with enthusiasm.

One occurred during the period of his incumbency in Milwaukee, where he spent five years. When he arrived in that city, the chief aim of the various philanthropic organizations was relief. When he left, there was under way, as result of his tireless efforts, construction of a large community house.

Today that community center is held one of the finest examples of welfare work in the entire country. It is hailed by those who know Peiser as a monument to his five years in the city.


The second incident is even more descriptive of the type of man Peiser is and along what liberal lines his mind drives. It occurred in Cincinnati, where he spent seven years. During his stay there. he was faced with the problem of what to do about hundreds of women who came to the Federation seeking work and spurning relief.

Going into a huddle with himself, Kurt wheeled and barked the signals for the next play. It was a smart end-around run that completely baffled the opposition—in this case the board of governors of the Federation.

This was the play: He’d put those women who wanted work and not relief to work in a cooperative bakery which he would organize. While the play was unfolding, the governors tried to stop it by the laugh-and-ridicule defense. Such an enterprise, they scoffed, would never succeed.

But Kurt, with the stubborn persistence probably acquired on Michigan gridirons, fought his way through the opposition and scored a touchdown that they’re still talking about in Cincinnati.

The cooperative bakery that “just couldn’t succeed” was organized and it has been a rousing success ever since. Hundreds of unemployed women round work there and are finding work to this very day. And not only have they found work, but as a commercial enterprise the bakery has proved highly successful. It has paid for itself many times over.

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