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Detroit Jewish News May 21, 1948. After Israel's Independence

Israel’s Independence – From the DJN Davidson Digital Archive

There is really only one topic for my column this week, isn’t there? I would be remiss if I did not look back into the William Davidson Archives to see just what was happening in Detroit after David Ben-Gurion read the Declaration of Israel’s Independence on May 14, 1948, thereby establishing the modern state of Israel. Indeed, I found lots of stories in April that year about the events that led to Israel’s birthday, and stories that covered the aftermath of independence in May issues of the JN and Detroit Jewish Chronicle.

Detroit Jewish News May 21, 1948. After Israel's IndependenceIn the May 14 issue of the JN, the headline for the front page article read: “Detroit To Salute Jewish State At Demonstration This Sunday,” followed by “Community Summoned to Meet at Central High School (Detroit) Field.” Moreover, the article stated that it “is imperative that every Detroit Jew should be present.” That Sunday, May 16, was declared “Palestine Liberation Day,” a celebration for Jews around the world.

It seems that Detroit Jews heeded the call to assemble. The May 21 issues of both the JN and the Chronicle had extensive reports on the celebration. An estimated 22,000 gathered at 3:30 p.m. that Sunday to rejoice over the establishment of Eretz Israel. This is an impressive number. While there were certainly non-Jewish friends in attendance, if almost all the crowd were indeed Jews, that would mean that about 25-30 percent of the Jewish population of Metro Detroit turned out for the celebration.

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By all reports, it was a joyous affair. The shofar was sounded and the blue-and-white flag of Israel with its star of David flew alongside the Stars and Stripes. After a 2,000-year sojourn for Jews around the world, and for those from Detroit and Michigan, it was a once-in-a-lifetime event. And, the JN was there.

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

Mike Smith

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