The DJN Foundation Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History has plenty of Passover stories.
By Mike Smith, Detroit Jewish News Foundation Archivist
Featured Photo: Ilene Monast of West Bloomfield shared this photo of her family from the April 16, 1933, issue of the Jewish Forward. From left to right are Zelig and Pearl Stern, Hyman and Dorothy Sweet, Harry and Grace Galens, Isadore and Sussel Sweet, Harry and Sarah Friedman and their daughter Lorraine, Esther Sweet, Arthur Sweet and Ben Sweet. The photos on the wall are of Monast’s great-great grandparents.
So, JN Story Development Editor Keri Cohen asked me to see if I could find any interesting tidbits about Passover in the William Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History. I said sure — and quickly discovered there were only a mere 20,113 pages with Passover stories! Where do I begin?
The first Passover stories were in the April 21, 1916, issue of the Jewish Chronicle — its first year of publication — in a section called “Congregational News.” It was noted there would be Passover services at Shaarey Zedek and Temple Beth El. Rabbi Leo Franklin would speak at Beth El.
Along with the religious services cited in 1916 — and many, many years after — you can find a plethora of advertisements seeking to provide every Passover need. Men who wished to be well dressed for Passover? See “Krenz” at John R and Broadway streets in Detroit. Need kosher wines, liquors and brandies? See S. Frank on Hastings Street.
There were also notices regarding more serious Passover matters. In the April 4, 1916, issue, there is a story about 13,882 applications from the Jews of Odessa, Russia, to the Petrograd Committee in Detroit seeking Passover food for Jewish prisoners of war from Germany and Austro-Hungry. World War I was still raging in Europe, and Russia was still a participant member of the Allies. The Russian Revolution was still months away.
For today’s column, however, I will offer something a bit different; an entry from the April 18, 1997, issue of the JN: “A Passover Tale of Chelm.” This is an interesting short story from Mark Binder, along with some very compelling artwork, which is displayed on this page. Here is the link to the story: bit.ly/2GiCrik
So, there are plenty of stories and other items in the Davidson Digital Archive to search about Passover in Detroit’s Jewish community over the past 100 years. I wish a joyous Passover to all.