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From the JN Foundation Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History

I was thinking about Canada again this week after Carolyn Gray, my good friend from Hamilton, Ontario, reminded me that “Labor Day” in Canada is actually “Labour Day.” Recently, I wrote a bit about the relationship of Detroit and Michigan to Windsor, Ontario, and elsewhere in Canada, and pointed out that many of us have relatives there. In this regard, I found an excellent article in the Davidson Digital Archives in the Aug. 1, 2013, issue of the JN that addressed this precise subject.

“Over the River” by Esther Allweiss Ingber was an informative report of a Jewish Historical Society of Michigan bus tour to Jewish sites in the nearby city of Windsor, situated “Over the River” from Detroit. Along the way, the tour participants — and the readers of the JN — learned about various aspects of Windsor Jewish history. For one example, it seems that Stan Meretsky’s great-grandfather, Polish-born Aaron Meretsky, was an early Jewish pioneer in Windsor around 1880, and a bit of a bigwig: He was a city alderman.

The tour visited several synagogues. First, the bus stopped at Congregation Shaar Hashomayim (Gate of the Heavens), Windsor’s home for Orthodox Jews since 1930. And, not to be confused with Detroit synagogues, but Windsor has both a Congregation Beth El and a Congregation Shaarey Zedek; the latter is the oldest in Windsor, founded in 1893.

The bus also stopped at Shaar Hashomayim Cemetery. There, tour participants found the headstone of Windsor’s first Jewish settler, Moses David (1768-1814).

Of course, since 9/11, it has been a bit tougher to go “Over the River” to Windsor, but it does sound like it is worth the effort to find your passport and visit some of the sites listed in this JN article. And, I would add — there are also some good eats in Windsor, more than just Tim Horton donuts and poutine for your french fries.

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

Mike Smith

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