ANN ARBOR -- Stanley R. Borenstein, a longtime liberal activist, union
organizer and social worker, who went from teaching in one of the last
one-room schoolhouses in Connecticut to taking black American college
students to study at an Israeli kibbutz, died Tuesday night. He was
While his jobs varied widely -- he started adult education programs,
was a case worker for the mentally retarded, and taught college
sociology. -- Mr. Borenstein's off-work hours put him in more public
view. He wrote more than 1,000 letters to the editor, getting them
printed in newspapers across the nation. He wrote a teenage advice
column for a Jewish newspaper. He was elected to positions in the
Democratic Party in Michigan, Ohio,and Illinois, and in retirement
handed out business cards that described him as speaker, magician,
As a young Navy seaman, Mr. Borenstein first made newspapers in the
Boston area when he went to court to reclaim his original name, lost
when his mother divorced his father. Years later, Mr. Borenstein went
to court in Ohio, successfully suing the Bexley, Ohio school board for
suspending his son for wearing a black armband in memory of the
students killed at Kent State University.
Born in Chelsea, Mass., on Nov. 20, 1925 to Fred Borenstein and
Charlotte Haloon Borenstein Greenberg, Mr. Borenstein lived in Ann
Arbor for the past nine-and-a-half years. After his parents divorced
and his mother remarried, she renamed him Sidney Greenberg. When he
joined the U.S. Navy at age 18, he went to court in his Navy whites to
get his Borenstein name back, garnering media attention. He served in
the Pacific theater during World War II and was honorably discharged
He earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from Suffolk University in
1948 and worked as a psychiatric aide at Medfield State Hospital,
becoming president of the hospital unit of the American Federation of
State County and Municipal Employees. He was active in AFSCME and the
Communications Workers of America for several years.
Mr. Borenstein earned a master's degree in psychology from the
University of Denver in 1951 and became a social worker in
Connecticut. He then taught seventh and eighth grade in one of the
state's last one-room schoolhouses.
"I had 25 kids in all and from that I had to build a sports program,''
Mr. Borenstein told the Ann Arbor News four years ago in a profile.
Mr. Borenstein then ran Jewish community programs and adult education
programs in Pittsburgh and Louisville, Kentucky. In Pittsburgh, he was
a regional director of the B'nai B'rith Youth Organization.
In Columbus, Ohio, he was program director of East Central Citizens
Organization, one of the nation's first self-help anti-poverty
programs. He set up an adult education program for the local electric
utility and then spent about two decades working for the state of Ohio
as a social worker.
Mr. Borenstein worked in the mental health and retardation department,
supervised welfare and Aid to Families with Dependent Children in nine
Ohio counties and served as an educational specialist on the Ohio
Youth Commission. During that time, he taught religious school and
wrote the advice column Teen Talk'' for the Columbus Jewish
"I later found out that teens didn't read the column, but their
parents did,'' he recalled with a laugh to the Ann Arbor News.
Mr. Borenstein returned to teaching, this time as a psychology and
sociology instructor at Wilberforce University in Ohio, one of the
nation's oldest historically black colleges. In 1989, Mr. Borenstein
took four black students to spend a semester in Israel, working and
learning at a kibbutz, which is an Israeli cooperative.
"When asked to evaluate the program, they said we should have gone for
a whole year,'' he told the Ann Arbor News.
Mr. Borenstein then taught sociology at Black Hawk Community College
in Moline, Illinois and Scott Community College in Bettendorf, Iowa,
In retirement, Mr. Borenstein ramped up his hobbies of
letter-to-the-editor writing, entering contests and collecting free
stuff for charities, a process he referred to by the Yiddish term
"schnorring.'' He also gave free magic performances at area nursing
homes and the Ann Arbor Jewish Community Center.
But much of Mr. Borenstein's retirement was spent trying to promote
two ideas: a universal health plan for the United States and a peace
plan for the Middle East. His peace plan centered around joint
Israeli-Palestinian projects to employ youths, such as a theme park.
"The Arab kids don't have the jobs they should have,'' he said four
years ago. We need to give them jobs and training.''
He was elected as a Democratic precinct delegate in Ann Arbor and in
Rock Island, Illinois. And he was a Democratic state convention
delegate in Ohio. In 1968, he was an unsuccessful candidate to be a
national delegate for U.S. Presidential hopeful Eugene McCarthy. He
was an unsuccessful school board candidate in Bexley, Ohio.
He was a cubmaster in Ohio. He was a member of the Gray Panthers,
Veterans For Peace, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Psi Chi,
the honor society for psychology.
Preceded in death by his wife, Deborah Kandall Borenstein, in 1997,
Mr. Borenstein is survived by four sons, Joseph of San Bruno, Calif.,
Nathaniel of Ann Arbor, Mich., Seth of Kensington, Maryland, and
Eliot of New York City; a sister and brother-in-law, Elinor and Thomas
Bull of New Bern, N.C.; a brother-in-law, Louis Kertzman of Lynn,
Mass.; eleven grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.
A graveside service will be conducted at 11 a.m. Monday, April 17, at
Arborcrest Cemetery, Ann Arbor. The funeral home is Ira Kaufman
Chapel, Southfield, Michigan.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in Mr.
Borenstein's name to Veterans for Peace, 216 S. Meramec Ave., St.
Louis, MO 63105.
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