Bring your own family holdings to showcase and have evaluated.
From eyeglasses worn by the late Rabbi Leo M. Franklin of Temple Beth El to a display reading “Be true to your teeth and they won’t be false to you” posted by the late television comedian Soupy Sales, historic items representing the Detroit Jewish community of the past will be the subject of talks from 3-5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4, at The Hawk in Farmington Hills.
“Everyday Treasures: Jewish Detroit Heirloom Roadshow” is a free program that presents valued holdings from Detroit’s pioneering Jewish residents and invites attendees to bring their own family holdings to showcase and have evaluated for their historical presence.
The event is a prelude to an exhibit being planned by the Detroit Historical Museum.
The objects that will be shown Dec. 4 are being considered in advance of that larger exhibit running April-June in 2024. Many items belong to the Detroit Historical Museum, which also will feature possessions of the Jewish Historical Society of Michigan (JHSM), the organization hosting the December event and part of the planning for the museum exhibit.
The displayed and discussed memorabilia essentially recall items saved from the Hastings Street area in Detroit, where the Jewish community once was based.
Narrating the program will be Gail Offen, known as a member of the adjunct faculty at Lawrence Technological University. Her specialty is humanities, social sciences and communication. Elayne Gross Photography will be taking pictures to document what is being offered for display consideration.
“People are going to see about 12 objects and hear stories connected to them,” said Catherine Cangany, executive director of the JHSM, who also is looking forward to seeing the items visitors bring in and hearing the history of those items.
“The exhibit and presentation are generally concerned with daily life, and the materials being shown are touchstones to the past, items that breathe so much history,” she said.
Two dresses from the past also will be discussed. One belonged to Henrietta Hess Butzel, and the other was worn by Mrs. Simon Heavenrich. Both are from the late 19th century.
Among the pieces being sought are books, toys, instruments, tools and tableware.
“We are especially interested in the years before 1920,” Cangany said.
Barbara Cohn, JHSM vice president and exhibit chair, is very excited about the upcoming event and looks forward to hearing the personal stories about the artifacts being shown.
“We’re not going to be assessing the monetary value of the items,” Cohn said. “We want to know the history of the items. For instance, we already have a beautiful letter from a group of women raising money for orphans.
“For those who know the stories connected to the pieces, they can tell about them during the program.”
Jeremy Dimick, director of collections at the museum, said that anything borrowed for the 2024 show will be treated as if it were a museum possession. That means it will be insured.
“Anything that helps tell a particular story about Jewish life is welcome — everyday possessions or Jewish heirlooms,” he said. “Owners are going to get them returned at the end of the exhibit. We treat everything that comes in on loan the same way we treat our holdings.”
“Everyday Treasures: Jewish Detroit Heirloom Roadshow” will be presented for free 3-5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4, at The Hawk, 29995 W. 12 Mile, Farmington Hills. Advanced registration is requested at https://form.jotform.com/223065662527154.