I found a great piece this week in the March 26, 1971, issue of the JN — an excellent timeline of the history of the Detroit Section of the National Council of Jewish Women. Of course, this timeline only covers the first 80 years of the group, and nearly a half-century has passed since this piece was published. Nevertheless, I learned quite a bit about Jewish women in Detroit.

The timeline begins by citing a 1891 meeting at Temple Beth El where women from the Detroit community founded the Jewish Women’s Club “to better the conditions of girls and women, to promote friendly fellowship and mutual helpfulness among Jewish women of Detroit, to elevate their mental, moral and social status, and to foster [the] cultivating influence of Jewish women.” Ida Ginsberg was the first president.

It also notes that one of the club’s significant achievements was the “Penny Lunch,” that is lunches for a penny for needy children. This became a citywide lunch program in 1911.

The club became the Detroit Section of the NCJW in 1925. The NCJW was founded in 1893, when Hannah G. Solomon of Chicago was asked to organize the participation of Jewish women in the Chicago World’s Fair. A bit insulted that the women were expected to just serve coffee and tea, Solomon and her friends founded the National Council of Jewish Women.

The NCJW is now 124 years old and doing a lot more than serving refreshments. This timeline is a good history of the early years of the Detroit Section.

Mike Smith
Detroit Jewish News Foundation


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