On Thursday, Feb. 9, the 85th annual Inter-Congregational Men’s Club dinner was held at B’nai Moshe in West Bloomfield. The main speaker this year was, well —me. I was very honored when Don Cohen asked me to address the Men’s Club, one of the oldest Jewish brotherhood clubs in Detroit and Michigan.

I related some of the most interesting stories I’ve found over the years in the Detroit Jewish News and Jewish Chronicle as the archivist for the Detroit Jewish News Foundation.

Naturally, I dove into the William Davidson Digital Archive to research the history of the Men’s Club, which dates to 1932, and I found 63 pages with stories that mention the club. The first report of a dinner was in 1947, when eight men’s clubs met at Temple Beth El on the eve of Purim. Julius Gordon, rabbi and noted scholar from St. Louis, was the featured speaker.

As I read through the stories, I became a bit nervous as I realized that I was following in the footsteps of some very prominent people over the past 85 years. Speakers at the annual dinner have included national figures such as Aaron David Miller, who was the U.S. Deputy Special Middle East Coordinator for Arab-Israeli negotiations in 2000; local Jewish statesman and community leader David Hermelin; and many, many noted rabbis and Jewish scholars. I knew I had to be on my toes!

Oh, and the Men’s Club has one other most important task every year — its summer softball league. Competitive, but collegial.

Mike Smith
Detroit Jewish News Foundation


Want to learn more? Go to the DJN Foundation archives, available for free at  www.djnfoundation.org.