djn-1990-02-09-0-005Yesterday was an interesting day for me. I learned a thing or two or three about the Jewish community in Ann Arbor. My guide was Helen Aminoff, a delightful person and a local historian of Jews in Ann Arbor and Michigan.

I met Aminoff at the city’s Jewish Community Center, where she showed me a fine exhibit on the history of Beth Israel Congregation. She was the writer for much of the exhibit, which will be on display until the end of this month.

The first fact I learned was that, founded in 1916, Beth Israel is now 100 years old and going strong.

Naturally, I went into the Davidson Digital Archives and searched for information on Beth Israel (over 400 entries), the Jewish Community Center in Ann Arbor (30 entries) and Aminoff (eight entries).

Along the way, I learned, for one example, that the shul assisted in settling about two dozen Soviet Jews in the Ann Arbor area in the 1990s, that Beth Israel broke ground for a new building in 1977 and that Aminoff likes to write letters to the editor of the Jewish News.

In short, the Detroit Jewish News and Jewish Chronicle’s reporting went well beyond the borders of the Motor City.

Want to learn more? Go to the DJN Foundation archives, available for free at

By Mike Smith, DJN Archivist


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