THE QUESTION IS “WHY?”
Stanford M. Adelstein, a Jewish Life in South Dakota
“The Question is ‘Why?’ provides an intimate look at the life of a true statesman. Well into his ninth decade, Stanford Adelstein continues to live his values and impact society as an eminent South Dakotan, a proud American, and a Jew firmly rooted in his tradition and history. This is not only Adelstein’s personal history, but the story of one man’s impact on the world he lives in.”
—Robin Doroshow, Executive Director
Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest
As a Jewish South Dakotan, Stanford M. “Stan” Adelstein has long encountered certain questions: “How did you end up there?” “There are Jews in South Dakota?!” He’s even had to explain where to find South Dakota on the map.
But when Adelstein met David Ben-Gurion in Israel in 1965, the former prime minister asked something else: “The question isn’t ‘where?’,” Ben-Gurion said. “The question is ‘why?’”
Caught off guard, Adelstein responded with what was in his heart: He told Ben-Gurion that carving out a life of purpose on the South Dakota plains was his mission as a Jew. He has spent the years since then living out this response, serving a stunning array of local, national, and international causes.
This book tells Adelstein’s story of family, faith, business, politics, and philanthropy. It provides new perspectives on recent American and world history and on the lives of Jewish people in rural places. And, arriving when many Americans are questioning our democracy’s durability, it inspires all who hope to improve their communities, their country, and the world.
Stanford M. Adelstein led his family’s heavy construction and real estate firm, the Northwestern Engineering Company, for decades. Along the way, Adelstein helped found the Synagogue of the Hills and was deeply involved in many Jewish advocacy organizations. A longtime philanthropist, civic activist, and political operative, he served in the South Dakota State Legislature for over a decade beginning in 2001.
Author Eric Steven Zimmer, Ph.D., works on a variety of digital, exhibit-based, and narrative history projects at Vantage Point Historical Services, Inc., in Rapid City, South Dakota.