Penny Blumenstein

Interviewed by Susie Pappas

May 28, 2019

Max M. Fisher Federation Building

Penny Blumenstein
Video 00:36:38


The interview with Penny Blumenstein begins with a discussion of her childhood, including her schools, family and how religion was observed in her house. She discusses how her affiliation with Jewish organizations including Hadassah and ORT, and how she became involved with the Jewish Federation Women’s Philanthropy.

She talks about positions she held within Women’s Philanthropy, eventually rising to campaign chair and then president. Topics also include her accomplishments within Women’s Philanthropy, Lion of Judah and hopes for the department in the future.

History of Narrator

Penny Blumenstein was born in Detroit on December 10, 1939. A longtime community leader, a passionate advocate for Israel, an activist and philanthropist, Blumenstein has the distinction of being the first woman to serve as President of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit (1998-2001).

A graduate of Mumford High School, she married young and raised two sons and a daughter, simultaneously taking classes at Wayne State University.  Starting out as a Campaign volunteer, Blumenstein worked her way through the Federation system, moving into the ranks of leadership. Her Federation responsibilities have included: Co-Chair Federation Strategic Plan Action Committee, 1992-1996; Chair, Allied Jewish Campaign, 1996-97; Campaign Chair, Women’s Division, 1991-93; and President, Women’s Division, 1993-95.  In 1996, Blumenstein co-chaired Federation’s Annual Campaign.

Blumenstein is active in numerous other organizations, including the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the American Joint Distribution Committee, where she served as president.


Important Subjects

  • Fairview ORT
  • Hadassah
  • Lion of Judah
  • Women's Division/Women's Philanthropy

Important Names

  • Dulcie Rosenfeld
  • Nancy Grosfeld

Credit as: Leonard N. Simons Jewish Community Archives. Penny Blumenstein Oral History Interview, May 28, 2019.