The cruising stories found in the Davidson Archive prove that Detroit is indeed the Motor City in more ways than just making and selling cars.

This weekend, the third Saturday of August, will mark the 27th annual Woodward Dream Cruise, or what is billed as “The World’s Biggest Cruise.” There will be plenty of antique cars, custom-built hot-rods and one-of-a-kind automobiles and trucks driving and burning rubber in the right two lanes of Woodward Avenue.  

Mike Smith
Mike Smith
Alene and Graham Landau Archivist Chair

The Dream Cruise began in 1995 on a soccer field in Ferndale. Leading cruiser, Nelson House, and a group of volunteers decided to recreate the heyday of cruising in the 1950s and 1960s. More than 250,000 attended the initial affair; now the usual attendance for the Dream Cruise is about 1.5 million. They come from around the world to view over 40,000 classic and custom cars that “cruise” the length of Woodward Avenue from Detroit to Pontiac.

I figured there were a few cruisers from Detroit’s Jewish community. Indeed, a search into the William Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History proved I was spot-on. In fact, just searching for the “Dream Cruise” raised more than 200 pages from the Archive regarding this famous event. 

“Jews Who Cruise” is a cover story about three local community members who motored down Woodward during the Dream Cruise in the Aug. 16, 2008, issue of the JN. The article features Andy Adelson, Michael Kunzman and Michael Surnow and their “muscle car” collections (i.e., think powerful, exotic and very fast automobiles). The trio participated in the Dream Cruise as well as spent a lot of time “joyriding” every summer. 

Indeed, summer brings out not only the cruisers, but also cruise events around Metro Detroit. They are staged at drive-ins restaurants, in parking lots, sports fields and other choice spots around the city. 

An earlier story with the same title in the Aug. 8, 2004, JN, “Jews Who Cruise,” has stories about several other Jewish antique/specialty car owners. This article features a wonderful photo of Joel and Lauren Jacob with their children —Michael, 5, Andrew, 9, Autumn, 7, and Merrick, 12 — in the window of their 1953 green Cadillac. All smiles, they look pretty darn happy!

Car Cruises can also be useful for a bit of mitzvah-making. If you cannot go to the Dream Cruise, it can come to you. For many years, Jewish Senior Life (JSL) has brought the Senior Dream Cruise to the Applebaum Campus in West Bloomfield. See reports in the Aug. 29, 2013, and Aug. 28, 2008, issues of the JN. Last year, JN’s Danny Schwartz wrote an online report about the Cruise and JSL: thejewishnews.com/2021/09/17/faces-places-jsl-senior-dream-cruise.

In 2006, there was a major fundraiser: “Cruisin’ for a Cure.” Sponsored by the Orchard Lake Road Car Cruise, this event was held at the Shenandoah Country Club in West Bloomfield. Proceeds went to the Hermelin Brain Tumor Center at Henry Ford Hospital (July 6, 2006).

The cruising stories found in the Davidson Archive prove that Detroit is indeed the Motor City in more ways than just making and selling cars.

Car culture rules in Metro Detroit and collecting cars and cruising in them is a big part of summer fun around here. Just ask the Jewish men and women who attend or drive in the Dream Cruise, or just enjoy driving around in their cars for Detroit-style relaxation. 

Want to learn more? Go to the DJN Foundation archives, available for free at www.djnfoundation.org.

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