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March 08, 1974 - Image 56

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1974-03-08

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`I Remember, I Remember'

Butzel Autobiography: Sensational Recapture of Early Detroit History

der, the famous Boris D. disagreeable litigation with
Bogen, the dean of Jewish a friend, came to a settle-
social work in America. She ment. Not wishing to use the
got some records, the idea proceeds of the case which
of confidential investigation he had fought only to vindi-
of clients and the belief that cate a principle, he turned
self-help was the objective the amount he received in
in all relief work. settlement, some $4,000, over
The UJC, from the very to the UJC to buy a site for
beginning, W a s organized a building.
with a relief committee to
We finally got the large
look after families and chil- site on the north side of High
dren; an educational commit- Street (now known as Ver-
tee to work out social pro- nor Highway), just west of
grams, especially for the Hastings. This was it -`h
young people; a house com- very heart of the Jewis
mittee; and a finance corn- tion. Plans for a bunuii 6
mittee to raise money.
were drawn by Albert. Kahn,
For all of the social work, an d cost of construction was
including salary and rent, I set at approximately $14,-
believe we raised $4,000 a coo .
year. And what a hard job
In 1903, Mrs. Seligman
that was! Miss Hart was em- Schloss was killed in a hor-
powered to give emergency rible railroad accident near
relief up to $5 without a corn- Vilvt•iukee. The local com-
mittee meeting. munity was pr o f o u n d l y
We relied for finances sole- shocked. Her husband of-
ly upon straight annual sub- fered to give $10,000 for a
scriptions. Almost every per- memorial building if the
son added up what he had community would raise an
been giving previously and additional $4,009,
in consideration of not being
This was done after con-
bothered periodically and in- siderable campaigning, al-
definitely, increased his sub- though we were all irked with
scription. Schloss for not having given -
HANNAH SCHLOSS
the full amount. But we were
BUILDING
afraid to say anything to him
Within a short time the about it.
THE LATE FRED 'M. BUTZEL
need for a Jewish commu- When we were ready to
nity building grew more and open the building, Rabbi
more acute. Three netes- Emil G. Hirsch -of Mt. Sinai
and
Bernard
Ginsburg
was
We met every Sunday and I
sities were pressing: There Temple, Chicago, came here -
taught the boys English, vice president.
Joseph Wertheimer, the su- were very few bath tubs in for the dedication. We told
grammar and composition.
Jewish community;_ man- him how we felt about the
Among my pupils were David perintendent, who acted on a the
ual training was not available proviso.
voluntary
basis,
just
went
and Jake Stocker and Jesse
He said that he would "fix
around town giving doles. He on the east side, where the
Hirschman.
Jewish population dwelt in things." and he lived up to
was
succeeded
by
a
young
Occasionally, I also gave
large numbers; no gymna- his promise. Before the din-
a talk on Wagnerian opera lawyer, Louis James Rosen- sium facilities existed.
ner, he pulled. Seligman
berg,
who
was
hired
on
a
for the Jewish Women's Club
While we may smile at the Schloss aside and told him
or some other organization parttime basis but who soon mention of bath tubs, I may a story of doubtful propriety.
that met in our old building. had to give it up to look after say that the lack of this facil- What else happened, no-
his practice.
UNITED JEWISH
Blanche J. Hart succeeded ity among Jews constituted body knows, but it appears
CHARITIES
Rosenberg and remained with a serious problem. The ab- that the old gentleman was
There was a feeling that the organization 23 years. sence of manual training so amused that he gave the
our poor were very inade- Miss Hart had been an ardent work assumed added impor- additional $4,000, thus pay-
quately looked after, and that admirer of Sarah Krolik and tance because there was at ing for the entire cost of the
the program for boss and from the very beginning had this time a tremendous de- building. He did specify that
girls was not good, especially taken a prodigious interest sire for the vocational disc the $4,000 already raised by
in view of the fact that neith- in the domestic science work. tribution of Jewish boys into the community should be
er domestic science nor
As soon as she was ap- handicraft. held in trust for the upkeep
A year or two after the or- of the building.
manual training was in the pointed, she went down to
Unfortunately, neither Mr.
public school curriculum. Cincinnati, worked there in ganization of the UJC, Henry
(Continued on Page 46)
Congestion of the Jewish pop- the office of, and studied un- Krolik, who had had some
ulation was beginning.
It was hoped that' strong
charity organization would
tend to cement the commu-
nity and narrow the rift
plc agencies also were locat- come available.
By ALLEN A. WARSEN
which had been caused when
I finally received the mem-
In the late 1930s, while ed there.
the relief societies broke up.
oir (it had to be transcribed
The
late
Kurt
Peiser
was
Dr. Leo M. Franklin came writing my masters thesis on then the director of the Fed- from shorthand). I wrote to
to Temple Beth El in 1899 the Detroit Jewish charities, eration, and his assistant was 'Mr. Boxerman: "By preserv-
and received a cordial wel- I often would visit the offices William I. Boxerman, a high- ing the memoir you contri-
come from all groups. I of the Jewish Welfare Fed- ly intelligent young man, buted greatly to the enrich-
think it was in the fall of eration, the Jewish Social with whom I frequently dis- ment of our community's his-
that year, at a meeting held Service Bureau (now the Jew' cussed community problems, tory . • . The memoir repos-
in the vestry room of Tem- ish Family and Children's especially those relating to ing in your garage for so
ple Beth El (on the corner Service) and the Child Place- my thesis. At these meetings, many years and coming back
of Clifford St. and Washing- ment Bureau (no longer in he would also tell' me about a to life again also reminded
ton Ave.), that the United existence). ( They were all lo- memoir he was helping the me of Honi Hameagg
Jewish Charities was formed. cated at 51 West Warren. late Fred M. Butzel to write. Jewish Rip Van Wink _
I took a small part in the Many non-Jewish philanthro- (Boxerman later became the
organization. My b r other
first director of the Jewish
Henry was most active and
Community Council and to-
drew up the constitution. It
day is on the staff of the Jew-
Fred M. Butzel was a great humanitarian, guide included the relief societies
ish Federation Council of Los
and adviser to thousands, an institution in himself. of both synagogues, the Self-
Angeles.)
Help
Circle
and
the
Ladies'
His memoirs, dictated to William I. Boxerman,
When Mr, Butzel died, I
then assistant to the Jewish Welfare Federation Sewing Society. The latter
reminded myself of the me-
joined
only
for
a
limited
director, included many aspects of the Jewish com- purpose. The "Frauen-Vere-
moir and for a long time
munity's earliest experiences. Their transcription in"
tried to locate Mr. Boxer-
refused to come in and,
man. I finally made contact
preserves many important details about Detroit of course, the Jewish Wom-
with him through Joseph
history.
en's Club, by definition, did
Jonah Cummins, publisher of
The Jewish News is utilizing a major portion not belong.
the Bnai Brith Messenger of
From the beginning we
of these records, thanks to the efforts of Boxerman
Los Angeles. Boxerman, re-
and Allen A. Warsen, who remembered them and hoped that in a few years
sponding to my inquiry,
induced Boxerman to transcribe the record. Today: we would have an adequate
wrote that the Butzel notes
building. The first president
"Genesis."
were in' his garage and that
of the United Jewish Char-
ALLEN A. WARSEN
he would work on them to be-
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS ities was David W. Simons, WILLIAM I. BOXERMAN
56—Friday, March 8, 1974

Along about 1895, Mrs.
Sarah (Adolph) Krolik, a
Christian school "teacher who
had married a Polish-Jew-
ish peddler, grew disgusted
with the relief activities as
The main unit of Jewish they were carried on by
community organization in Jews.
She was greatly impressed
Detroit originally was Con- by the potentialities of Pol-
gregation Beth El, which sub- ish Jews and wanted them
sequently split up into Con- given more American educa-
gregations Shaarey Zedek tion for self-help. Slle or-
and Beth El.
ganized a group of young
A little later, Pisgah society ladies for volunteer
Lodge, of the Order of Bnai service to teach little girls
Brith, was formed in Detroit. sewing, cooking, cleaning and
Its main objective was the other domestic sciences, long
Americanization of the Jew- before such branches were
ish immigrants.
introduced to the public
Great stress was laid on schools.
parliamentary law, which
The Self-Help Circle soon
was considered one of the became an 'important element
easiest ways to get the "feel" in the community.
of American institutions. And
JEWISH WOMEN'S CLUB
all the Jews becdme parlia-
Another early group was
mentarians.
the Jewish Women's Club,
About 1863, the Detroit He- organized by Mrs. Ida E.
brew Ladies' Aid Society for (B e r n a r d) Ginsburg, the
the Support of Widows and mother of our Mrs. Golda
Orphans was founded. It was Krolik. Associated with her
popularly k n own as the was Mrs. Ida (Henry) Kro-
"Frauen-Verein." My aunt, lik, who succeeded to the
Mrs. Emil S. Heineman, was presidency upon Mrs. Gins-
for many years its president. burg's death.
Funds were collected by
The Jewish Women's Club
this group for the support of had almost purely cultural
bona fide widows and or- purposes. They tried to raise
phans, and the good ladies the standard of decorum in
were very careful never to Jewish society and to bring
help anybody who did not all the women together in
fall into either one of these various social undertakings.
In the early days, they had
categories.
Temple Beth El, in its no philanthropic purposes.
early days, had already or- For many years they staunch-
ganized the Detroit Jewish ly refused to become a -part,
Relief Society. Down to 1891 of the National Council of
this society looked after the Jewish Women, but finally
relief needs of the commu- were integrated into the na-
nity and the Orthodox Jews tional body and undertook
participated, despite the split more or less public work,
such as sponsoring legisla:
in the synagogue,
Unfortunately. the rabbi of tion and special pieces of so-
Temple Beth El, Dr. Louis cial work.
Through the influence of
Grossman, a Hungarian Jew,
who came to Detroit in 1883, Sarah Krolik, the late Man-
tactlessly gave great offense nie Berger organized a boys'
to the members of Shaarey club having an extensive pro-
Zedek during a lecture there gram of military drill with
wooden guns. It- was very
one Friday night.
Thereupon, Shaarev Zedek good discipline. The drilling
organized its own relief soci- proved very popular and it
ety. Endless duplication fol- showed that our Jewish boys
lowed, as they vied with each were hungry for any kind of
other in "doing good." The organization.
For the purpose of housing
Beth El Relief Society worked
exclusively through voluntary various enterprises, an old
committees. My uncle, Mar- homestead was rented on the
tin Butzel, was president as southwest corner of Brush
long as I can remember, and Montcalm Sts. Here the
and his right-hand man was Ladies' Sewing Society did
its stitching, the Self-Help
Louis Danto.
For many years, under the Circle held its classes, and
leadership of Hannah (Mrs. the Jewish Women's Club im-
Seligman) Schloss, another bibed culture. Although the
group of ladies sewed and structure was antiquated and
made household supplies for in great need of repair, be-
poor f am i l i e s. This was fore long it became a real
known as the Ladies' Sewing community building.
In 1898, four boys felt the
Society. Poor women came
to their meetings and begged need for training i in English,
for layettes, underwear, etc. and so I got my first job.

By FRED M. BUTZEL
As told to
William I. Boxerman

Genesis

Odyssey of a Humanitarian

The Origin of the Autobiography

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