Jeannie Weiner
Jeannie Weiner

Jeannie Weiner of the Jewish Historical Society of Michigan to present Zoom program for Hadassah.

Jeannie Weiner, as president of the Jewish Historical Society of Michigan (JHSM), oversees the organization that keeps track of individual and group achievements in the community and lets the public know about what has been discovered.

Weiner, who has been active in other Jewish organizations and endeavors, including helping Soviet Jews become established in Michigan, has spoken many times about the achievements of Jewish women and will do so again in a Zoom presentation for the Eleanor Roosevelt Chapter of Hadassah.

The session begins at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 26.

“Michigan Jewish Women Who Made a Difference,” the title of her talk and the title of a JHSM website with relevant information, will include the history of women who are known personally and women who came long before with a presence that had impact on an evolving geographical area.

Judy Cantor
Judy Cantor

One of those women is Judith Levin Cantor, who preceded Weiner in her current JHSM position and developed bus tours of the former Jewish sections of Detroit among many other initiatives. Cantor died this year.

“I will talk about the first Jewish people who came to the United States just so everything is in perspective,” said Weiner, who was asked to include members of Hadassah. “The first Jewish woman is Sarah Cozens, a German Jew who first came with her family to New York and then came to Detroit.

Sarah Cozens
Sarah Cozens

“She was an amazing person. She ran a day school and taught Hebrew, German and English. She organized care for the sick. It was at her home, with her husband, that the first Jewish service was held in 1850. That group of people became Temple Beth El, the first organized Jewish congregation in Detroit.

“I start with her although she predates Hadassah. Historically, she’s important to mention if you’re talking about Jewish women who made a difference in Michigan.”

Weiner will have pictures to show as she provides enhancements for the information she discusses.

“From there, I will talk about Dora Erhlich, an early graduate of the University of Michigan in 1902,” Weiner said about the woman who became a regional director of Hadassah and had national prominence in the organization. “The Jewish newspapers called her the First Lady of Detroit Jewish Womanhood. She was born in Russia in 1882, and she lived to the age of 86.”

Dora Ehrlich
Dora Ehrlich

Ehrlich, who taught before she married, served on the boards of many Jewish organizations and was the first woman to be given the Butzel Award for service to the Jewish community.
Weiner will explain that it’s a very long process finding a sample of women to discuss. There are 60 or 70 women on the website, and the historical organization keeps looking for more to place.

The project started with a book called Michigan Women Who Made a Difference and was organized by Aimee Ergas. She put together women in many aspects of society, culture, art and various other fields of attainment with different kinds of educational backgrounds.
“When we began putting women on our website, we used many of her profiles,” Weiner said. “We also wanted to include women who are living, so we just looked for people in a variety of fields who are prominent.

“It’s a work in progress because we have a lot of women we want to include but have not yet gotten to the point of writing them up and putting them on the website. It takes a tremendous amount of time,” she said.

Before press time, Weiner said she had nine women to discuss and is planning on more.
“We’re primarily looking for women who really changed the course of things,” Weiner said. “It’s been difficult because the stories of women were not recorded. We’ve lost a lot of stories about women who we will never know. That’s one of the reasons we decided to do this website because history has not been kind to women, and we find we really want to preserve these stories.”

The stories that are found remain inspirational.

“History is such an important subject to discuss because it can help inspire us and let us know why we should be proud of who we are because of the accomplishments from
our own community,” Weiner said. “I encourage people to attend whatever history lectures they can so they can have this knowledge.”

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