Pictured above is the executive committee: Leigh Hendry, Laurie Scheidt, Harleen Tague, David Krueger, Jason Salomon, Scott Vogel. photo Steve Conroy
HISTORY OF PLOUGH TOWERS
The dream began early in 1975 when a small group of dedicated individuals realized that the housing needs of the Jewish elderly in Memphis were not being met. Jack Lieberman, then executive director of the Jewish Welfare Fund, later to be known as the Memphis Jewish Federation (Federation), led the charge.
A census of the Jewish community documented the population. The senior needs assessment project conducted by a number of organizations in the community, sponsored by the Memphis Section of the National Council of Jewish Women under the direction of Sally Grinspan and Shirley Summerfield, contributed to the momentum that was being generated.
Throughout the ensuing months, many individuals and community organizations added input and impetus to the project. The Board of Directors of the Jewish Welfare Fund agreed to sponsor the project and assured that a $10,000 reserve commitment would be available.
Featured above is a painting of founders, Tillie Alperin and Ida Lipman
The dream was taking shape with two of its most ardent dreamers and doers, Tillie Alperin and Ida Lipman, helping to move heaven and earth, doing what was needed and inspiring all to greater efforts.
Paul Schwartz, former executive director of the Memphis Jewish Community Center (MJCC) and professor at Memphis State University, played a major role in preparing the proposal for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. After it was submitted, much-needed support was gained from elected officials at the city, county, state and federal levels.
The high-rise apartment building was on the horizon. With HUD’s approval, the newly formed Memphis Jewish Housing Development Corporation had a building to erect. H. Kirke Lewis was elected president and Howard Weisbank, executive director of the Federation, assumed a similar position through the close cooperation of the Federation board and its president, Sam Weintraub.
Land was purchased next to the Memphis Jewish Community Center. The National Development Corporation of Pittsburg was named consultant and general contractor, and the firm of Gassner, Nathan, & Partners was selected as architect.
Community agencies were available for assistance. MJCC Executive Director Ira Steinmetz and MJCC President Jerome Makowsky aided in the initial planning and development. B’nai B’rith Home and Hospital Executive Director Jack Esman and Home President Aaron Brenner gave valued advice and counsel, as did Jewish Family Service, under the direction of Jack Lieberman and its president, Morris Kriger. Each of the then-four synagogues offered cooperation and encouragement. It was truly a Jewish communal effort.
Yet what was a building without a name? Plough Towers was chosen in recognition of one of Memphis’ most generous benefactors, Abe Plough. At its dedication ceremony on November 9, 1980, it was said, “Every member of our community has benefited from his gracious generosity at one time or another. His noble acts will live after him forever and the Jewish community, which has lived in pride of his accomplishments and unselfish achievements, wants to ensure that his name will be enshrined for all to know. Thus, by unanimous and enthusiastic action on the part of this organization, we today dedicate this establishment to be known forever as Plough Towers.”
Rena Rosenberg, Leigh Hendry, Bernard Danzig: Photo Steve Conroy
For the past 40 years, while many presidents and board member have led this organization, and hundreds of residents have been proud to call Plough Towers home, only three people have served as executive director. Bernard Danzig served 25 years until he retired in 2005. Rena Rosenberg served from 2005-2015. Leigh Hendry is now proud to serve in this position.