Created in conjunction with the 2016 centennial celebration of Beth Israel Congregation in Ann Arbor, Michigan, this website highlights the history of Beth Israel and the greater Ann Arbor Jewish community. Using the stories we tell as a focus, the website presents audio recordings, photographs, and text that reflects our past, present, and future.
This project was awarded two generous grants from the Jewish Federation of Greater Ann Arbor’s Community Impact Fund. The first grant was used to hire StoryCorps to record stories told by 17 sets of community members. The following year, the project received a second grant to create this website as a resource for the stories to be shared and new stories to be collected. The recordings have been transcribed and edited into eight-minute segments for inclusion on the website. The full transcripts and unedited recordings are available at the University of Michigan Bentley Historical Library and the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. For information on the contents of the collection at the Bentley Historical Library, click here.
This website is designed to be dynamic, continuing to evolve. In the near future, the transcripts will be completely searchable and new stories & photos will be added. In conjunction with the 100th anniversary, the website initially focuses on the history of Beth Israel Congregation but later will be open to submissions from the broader community. The site will also be expanded with additional oral histories recorded in the early 1990s by the Jewish Historical Society of Washtenaw County. We also envision the website as a resource for other educational and scholarly activities (e.g., educational projects for religious school students, sources for masters’ theses).
Help in identifying people in the photographs and the dates they were taken is welcome. For more information, use the submit section of the website.
For further reading:
Books and Articles
Adler, Richard and Ruth Adler. Jewish Ann Arbor. Mount Pleasant, SC: Arcadia, 2006.
Aminoff, Helen. “The First Jews of Ann Arbor.” Michigan Jewish History. Vol. 23, January 1983: 3-14.
Aminoff, Helen. “Ann Arbor” in Jewish Virtual Library, 2008.
Endelman, Todd M. A Short History of the Jews of the Ann Arbor Area. Ann Arbor: 1997.
Heineman, David E. “Jewish Beginnings in Michigan before 1850.” Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society. Vol. 13, 1905: 47-70.
Vanek, Linda and Rose Vainstein. Temple Beth Emeth: the First Fifteen Years, 1966-1981. Ann Arbor: Temple Beth Emeth, 1982.
The original 17 stories on this web site were edited and transcribed by the Oral History Committee of Beth Israel Congregation, with interviews recorded by StoryCorps, a national nonprofit whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives: www.storycorps.org.
Thank you to the following individuals who served on the committee and helped with the grants: Ed D’Angelo and Michele Leshan, co-chairs, Rich Adler, Helen Aminoff, Rabbi Kim Blumenthal, Rabbi Robert Dobrusin, Beth Dwoskin, Judy Endelman, Happy Feigelson, Carol Finerman, Laura Hirshbein, Jacob Kander, Matt Kaplan, Steve Leber, Cindy Saper, and Elliot Sorkin.
We are extremely grateful to the Jewish Federation of Greater Ann Arbor, which supported the project with two generous Impact Grants.
The website was designed by Cornershop Creative.