The most impressive stories in the William Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History are the ones of Jewish Detroiters supporting those in need during Passover.
Passover will soon be here, and I thought I would dive into the William Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History to find holiday stories. Using the search term “Passover” showed a list of 20,245 pages with that word. That’s a lot of pages!
So, I narrowed the search. I added one of my favorite words to the search term — “Passover Food” was found on 852 pages.
Many of the Passover food citations are holiday advertisements for stores such as Chatham, Wrigley’s, Great Scott! and Farmer Jack, as well as the Dexter-Davison Markets. A recent issue of the JN had an ad for Johnny Pomodoro’s and also reported that Meijer is expanding its kosher selections.
There were also other Passover food ads. Restaurants such as J. Lefkofsky & Sons’ “Hygeia Kosher Deli” or, more recently, Plaza Deli, and currently, Steve’s Deli promoted their Passover meals. Or in the 1950s, you could book a Passover cruise on the “Greek Line.” Its ships featured on-board kosher kitchens. And, of course, many Passover recipes have been published in the JN and Jewish Chronicle. In recent years, JN food columnist Annabel Cohen has written about many a tasty creation.
Most impressive are the stories of Jewish Detroiters supporting those in need during Passover. The first such story appeared in the Feb. 26, 1921, issue of the Chronicle: “Urges Passover Food Be Rushed to Poland.” That year, there was a dire need for food in Poland in the aftermath of WWI and its subsequent war with Russia in 1920. During WWII, a report in the March 26, 1943, issue of JN noted that the Detroit Jewish Welfare Board was sending Passover meals to Jews serving in America’s armed forces.
In the 1950s, food for the people of the fledgling State of Israel was a critical issue. In this respect, there is an interesting ad in the April 4, 1951, issue of the JN. The Manischewitz company noted that there was still time to send one of its Passover food parcels to Israel.
The headline for the March 22, 1963, issue of the JN, “USSR Jewry Faces Danger of Remaining Without Matzoth,” relates to another overseas Passover food issue. Once again that year, Moscow bakeries did not receive Passover flour rations, and there would be no matzah unless allowed from outside the country. This was another episode of antisemitism in Soviet-era Russia.
The Jewish community also did its best to help its own needy people. The April 5, 1985, issue of the JN has a story, “Money for Wheat,” about the Moies Chetim Organization providing Passover food for Jewish poor in Detroit. There are also many stories about the work of Yad Ezra during Passover.
Perhaps the reports that warm the heart the most are those of Jewish youth in action. See the April 4, 1998, JN story about Amy Miller working toward her bat mitzvah. She volunteered with Yad Ezra to make Passover food packages. Likewise, in the April 4, 2000, issue, see “Food for Passover.” Sarah Kiperman and Rachel Matz prepared for their bat mitzvahs by organizing a food drive.
These are just a few of the interesting Passover stories in the Archive.
Chag Pesach Sameach! Have a Happy Passover!
Want to learn more? Go to the DJN Foundation archives, available for free at www.djnfoundation.org.