For once in 1942, the main headline of the JN was about a celebration: “Salute to Fred Butzel: Detroit and the Nation Join in Congratulating Fred M. Butzel on his 65th Birthday, August 25, 1942.” This was indeed something to celebrate.

Butzel (1877-1948), known as the “Dean of Detroit Jewry,” was one of the great leaders of Detroit’s Jewish community. One would need dozens of pages to list all of his accomplishments and contributions to the improvement of life for Detroiters and Americans.

In recognition of his work and stature, the highest honor the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit can bestow upon a communal leader is the Fred M. Butzel Award.

In that same issue of the JN, there is also an editorial on page 4 that gives a brief history of Butzel’s legacy as well as congratulations.

This issue of the JN also launched a new feature: “Jewish Activities on the Home Front.” This was a page devoted to news about the efforts of Jews in Detroit and America to support our nation and its men and women in World War II.

And, speaking of the home front, another editorial raises a most interesting question about Judaism during a crisis; in this case, the intense trauma of World War II: Should Jewish war workers “ask or accept leaves of absence to observe Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur?” There was no clear answer. One rabbinical opinion was that “under all circumstances, Jews should observe the High Holydays.” Another was that “religious customs and ceremony must be temporarily sacrificed to preserve something that is a thousand times more fundamental.” These were trying times. I am leaving any conclusions on this matter to the rabbis and you.


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