New FedEd course uses DJN archives to look back at a pivotal time in history

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Newsroom

For the first time, FedEd, Federation’s adult Jewish education arm, is partnering with the Detroit Jewish News Foundation on a course sure to be a hit with many in the community: “A Jewish Lens to the Sixties; A Decade of Hope and Despair.” The eight-week course begins March 21.

The course is the brainchild of Judy Loebl, director of adult Jewish learning, and Professor Howard Lupovitch, a popular presenter of many FedEd courses over the years. “I provide the framework, and he paints the picture,” she said. Lupovitch is an associate professor of history and the director of the Cohn-Haddow Center for Judaic Studies at Wayne State University.

July 28, 1967 front page of the JN

“About a year and a half ago, I attended a talk Arthur Horwitz [founder and president of the DJN Foundation] was giving about the archives,” Loebl said. “I thought, ‘Wow, wouldn’t it be exciting to do a course in conjunction with the archives?’ What a great way to look at a topic through history!”

She called Lupovitch, who concurred. They collaborated on ideas and decided to “do a decade.” They chose the 1960s because of the 50th anniversary of two seminal events: the Six-Day War and Reunification of Jerusalem and the 1967 civil disturbance in Detroit.

“We knew we could tell the story through using the archives — not only locally, at issues like the Soviet Jewry movement, which Detroiters were actively involved in — but national and international events as well,” Loebl said.

Lupovitch said he enjoyed cruising through the William Davidson Digital Archives of Jewish Detroit History as he prepared for the class. “I came across names I recognized all the time,” he said. “And I was struck by reading about many of the same issues and same questions we grapple with today.”

Attendees of the course will touch upon topics including American Jewry and Jewry in the Post-War world; Jews and the Civil Rights Movement; Jews, Camelot and the Great Society; Jewish student activism and the anti-war movement; Detroit 1967, rebellion or betrayal; the feminist revolution; Elie Weisel, the Cold War and the Jews of Silence; and the Six-Day War, Jerusalem reunited and its enduring legacy.

“The ’60s were a pivotal moment in both American and American-Jewish history,” Lupovitch said. “And I believe many of the students in this class will have vivid memories of this decade.”

Five years ago, Lupovitch said, he would have spent many tedious hours bent over a microfiche machine to research a course such as this. “With the archives, all the information is right there at my fingertips. I’m not sure if all Jewish Detroiters realize what a valuable resource this is — we can see events and issues throughout our history reflected in the pages of the JN.”

Horwitz, also publisher and executive editor of the JN, said he is thrilled that the archives, which feature more than 100 years of Jewish Detroit history, will be used to inform and frame the class curriculum. “It’s just one more example of how the pages of the JN can be utilized to educate, inform and challenge current and future generations of Jewish Detroiters,” he said.

 Jackie Headapohl Managing Editor

To enroll in “A Jewish Lens to the Sixties; A Decade of Hope and Despair,” which runs 7-8:30 p.m. March 21, 28; April 4, 25; May 2, 9, 16 and 23 at the Jewish Federation Building on Telegraph in Bloomfield Township, call (248) 205-2557. The eight-week course costs $140.

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