After 34 years as JN publisher, Arthur Horwitz is now publisher emeritus, a well-deserved honor.
As you likely know, it is a new era at the JN. The newspaper is now owned by the nonprofit Detroit Jewish News Foundation, and after 34 years as JN publisher, Arthur Horwitz is now publisher emeritus, a well-deserved honor.
Arthur will still be actively involved in assisting the Foundation (djnfoundation.org) with its expanded responsibilities, although no longer in a board-member capacity.
As Alene and Graham Landau Archivist Chair for the Foundation, it will be a new era for me as well. Over the past eight years, I’ve been on a most interesting and stimulating adventure working closely with Arthur on the development of the William Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History.
It all began when Arthur invited me to a breakfast in 2012. I had just finished nine years as director of the Walter Reuther Library at Wayne State University and Arthur wanted to discuss his vision of a digital archive that would include every historic page of the JN in a free, online resource. It would be, in his words, the “DNA” of Jewish Detroit. It was a great idea. Moreover, I could see that Arthur had the skills and determination to make his vision a reality.
Indeed, to this end, with the help of many supporters from the Jewish community, Arthur launched the Jewish News Foundation in 2011.
Arthur’s quest began in the aftermath of a devastating fire at the JN offices in 2002. He was worried. The old copies of the JN that constituted a primary record of Detroit Jewish history had narrowly escaped destruction. What if this history had been lost? It would be tragic.
So, along with his daytime job as the JN’s executive editor and publisher, Arthur tackled another mission: to preserve the historic pages of the JN for the community. This led to the establishment of the Foundation and the creation of the William Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History, which debuted in 2013. The Detroit Jewish Chronicle (1916-1951) was added to the Davidson Digital Archive in 2015. It now holds over 330,000 images and is preserved in perpetuity by the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan. And, now the Foundation will publish the JN and preserve this community resource.
I did not know when I had pancakes with Arthur in 2012 that I was about to begin an eight-year adventure. To say the least, we hit it off. Moreover, as a professional archivist, I knew that Arthur was creating a pathbreaking research tool, both as an innovative digital newspaper archive, in general, and as an essential history resource for Detroit’s Jewish community in particular.
It is gratifying to have been an early contributor to the project, and I am honored to hold my current position. It’s also been a lot of fun. The best part of this adventure has been the hours spent with Arthur discussing ideas regarding local history — and trust me, the man has more ideas that one can keep up with!
Arthur Horwitz created a great archive, an outstanding legacy for the Detroit Jewish community. Many thanks for bringing me along on the ride, Arthur!
Want to learn more? Go to the DJN Foundation archives, available for free at www.djnfoundation.org.