Michigan Jewish Heritage

History Help Line is brought to you by the Center for Michigan Jewish Heritage, a collaboration between the Rabbi Leo M. Franklin Archives of Temple Beth El and the Leonard N. Simons Jewish Community Archives of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit.

This month’s History Help Line is about all the ways we can help you! After a year of construction, our new physical space is finally open. You can find the Joan Meyers Jampel Center for Michigan Jewish Heritage within Temple Beth El. Here, you will have access to all the resources of the Rabbi Leo M. Franklin Archives and the Leonard N. Simons Jewish Community Archives in one hub.

You can explore everything we have to offer, plus see demonstrations to help with your own archives, at our Grand Opening Event on Monday, May 8, at 6:30 p.m. But here’s a sneak peek!

Combined, the Franklin and Simons Archives hold more than 200 collections of Michigan Jewish History. That includes millions of documents from organizations, synagogues, family papers and more; thousands of photographs, hundreds of oral history interviews, and three fabulous archivists ready to assist you in your research!

The best place to start your search is through our website. From there, you can browse our collections catalog. Through our website, you can also watch many of our oral history interviews and other historical films, and journey through your genealogy on the Irwin I. Cohn Michigan Jewish Cemetery Index. You can also peruse the guides to the collections (what archivists call “Finding Aids”). These guides will tell you more about the collections we hold, why they are significant, and what’s included. When you’re ready to look inside the boxes of historical materials, visit the beautiful Ruth Kahn Broder Reading Room, located within the Prentis Memorial Library at Temple Beth El.

But that’s not all! A Community Digitization Station (coming soon) will provide a place for you to digitize some of your own family archives! In this new station, community members can make an appointment to use our scanning equipment for their personal collections. And for those uncomfortable with using the technology, we’ll have several Community Scanning days throughout the year to assist you.

Here’s a glance back through the construction process to turn unused storage rooms into beautiful, state-of-the-art archival storage. And join us on May 8 to see the finished space!

The new Joan Meyers Jampel Center for Michigan Jewish Heritage
will be located inside Temple Beth El.

Finally, as always, stay in touch with us through Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or TikTok.