Believe it or not, the JN and the Detroit Jewish Chronicle have been featuring Rosh Hashanah content for the last 100 years.
In a few days, it will be Rosh Hashanah. So, I went into the William Davidson Digital Archive of Detroit Jewish History to see just how the Detroit Jewish Chronicle and Detroit Jewish News covered the first High Holy Day of the New Year for the last 100 years.
Just using the search term “Rosh Hashanah” resulted in 5,879 pages where the holiday was cited. The first mention of Rosh Hashanah was in 1917 and, over the next century, to say the least, there were a lot of stories, more than can be mentioned in this brief column. So, here are a few of my favorites, vastly reduced from all of the content in the archive.
To begin, we can go back to the Sept. 19, 1919, Rosh Hashanah issue of the Chronicle. On the front page is an essay, “The Call of the Shofar,” by Rabbi Judah L. Levin, who was rabbi of the United Jewish Orthodox Congregations of Detroit. Levin delineates a focus upon three main goals for the Jewish New Year 5680. Better yet, the Sept. 28, 1962, issue of the JN provides a complete report on sermons to be presented at all the congregations in Detroit.
In Rosh Hashanah issues of the Chronicle and the JN, there are also stories of good works accompanying the holiday activities. The front page of the 5766 issue of the JN, for one example, features the newspaper’s yearlong focus on eliminating hunger, and all the great community members and organizations, such as Yad Ezra, that contributed to the cause.
Sounding the shofar is a key tradition of Rosh Hashanah. Searching for “shofar” in the digital archive results in 2,331 pages where the horn is mentioned. In particular, since 2010, families have enjoyed making and sounding their own shofars at the Sherrill Berman Shofar Factory Festival at the Jewish Community Center.
Of course, there is also the food. Not to disappoint, the historic pages of the JN have lots of content regarding Rosh Hashanah food. Indeed, with all of the recipes — and since 1987, full-color photos of various delicacies for the holidays — you cannot read about Rosh Hashanah in the archive without a bit of anticipation, hunger and perhaps drooling.
One of the most colorful and most enticing images of food is a Plum Market advertisement from the Sep. 10, 2015, issue of the JN. It’s a beauty! If you would like a primer on the foods associated with the holiday, see the Sept. 29, 2016, issue for a fine article by Louis Finkelman, “Flavors of Rosh Hashanah.”
However, what I am really a sucker for is the children’s artwork for Rosh Hashanah. Again, the color breakpoint of 1987 makes a huge difference in the JN’s presentation of art. I found some great examples in the Sept. 9, 2010, issue that includes winning designs by Wendy Kelman, 12; David Kleiman, 6; Clair Schlussel, 12; and Ava Taylor, 4. You will notice that Ava’s work was also featured on the front page of the JN. Bravo to all these young artists — who now are teenagers in high school or likely studying at college.
To say the least, for many, many years, the Chronicle and the JN have celebrated Rosh Hashanah with you. Once again, this year, it is one of our favorite issues. We wish you, your families, your friends and all a very prosperous and happy new year. Shanah tovah!
Want to learn more? Go to the DJN Foundation archives, available for free at www.djnfoundation.org.