Danny Raskin was the Lou Gehrig and Cal Ripken Jr. of column writing.
For decades, the best-read parts of the Jewish News were obituaries and Danny Raskin’s columns. In that order.
We introduced new or expanded arts & entertainment, business, sports and family sections, beefed-up local coverage and secured our own correspondents in Israel and Washington, D.C. Yet survey after survey told us the same thing … obituaries and Danny Raskin’s columns were reader favorites.
Danny was the Lou Gehrig and Cal Ripken Jr. of column writing. From the March 27, 1942, inaugural edition of the Jewish News through July of 2021 — a span of nearly 80 years — he wrote more than 5,000 weekly columns (from 1964 through 1986 he wrote two weekly columns). His initial “Jewish Youth’s Listening Post” columns focused on Jewish Detroiters serving our country in the global battle against Axis forces in Europe and the Pacific.
As a concession to Danny on his 30th birthday, Jewish News Publisher Philip Slomovitz removed the word “youth” from his column’s title. The year was 1949. However, Danny was forever young … pitching for the Jewish News softball team into his 70s, mentoring two generations of young chefs and exhausting those who tried to keep pace with him on the dance floor.
Danny always viewed himself as a journalist. Which he was. Yet he was also a very productive advertising executive. In May of 1986, I had just arrived in Detroit from the Baltimore Sun to run the day-to-day operations of the Jewish News. Our Southfield office was so small that a group of five commission-only account executives aggressively competed against each other for business while sharing what was essentially a large closet. Danny, already 40 years older than the others, out-hustled and out-elbowed all of them … even for a $5 commission. At the time, he was responsible for more than half of all advertising placed in the Jewish News.
When a devastating fire destroyed the Jewish News offices in January of 2002, Danny provided optimism and encouragement. “We’ll survive this and be better than ever,” he predicted in his booming baritone voice while we stared at smoldering piles of debris. “The community depends on us,” he added.
However, one item didn’t survive the fire. Once occupying a place of honor in his workspace, a large, signed photo of Danny with Wayne Newton was ruined by water and soot. Initially devastated, he insisted that I include his photo in our insurance claim. It was rejected, apparently thought of by the insurance company as worthless rather than priceless.
Danny lived and breathed Detroit and the Jewish News. He had a special relationship with its readers and advertisers. He was motivated to generate an engaging, entertaining and informative column for them every week … as if their lives and his own depended on it.
Obituaries and Danny Raskin. Today, they finally come together as one on the pages of the Jewish News.