H istorical Society
Issues 2012 Journal
ears ago, we Americans were running scared:
The metric system was on its way! Well, unless
you are a die-hard soft drink consumer, who
would use litres instead of quarts to measure their pur-
chases, you are still with inches, pounds, etc.
There are, however, still some interesting "units of mea-
sure" being touted today. And their specificity, though color-
ful, is in doubt.
Consider being told that feelings are coming from the bot-
tom of someone's heart? Is that really great depth
or just a lovely figure of speech?
Contrast it to something coming off the top
of someone's head. That quick response is worth
I am glad to have the use of a GPS when travel-
ing and no longer make myself subject to some-
one who gives such directions as "A stone's throw
from here "It's only a hop, skip and a jump:' or
"It's not far, as the crow flies:'
Have you ever heard of the baker's dozen? It
means getting 13 units to the dozen and was once
done regularly to safeguard against penalties for
Here are some really unusual units of measure
I have come across for the "modern" times:
This measure, coined by computer
scientists, is defined as the smallest detectable movement
of a mouse cursor on a screen. It is generally about 0.1 mil-
This measurement of fame is 15 minutes.
This term was coined after an MIT fra-
ternity prank in 1958 involving pledge Oliver Smoot, whose
height was 67 inches. His fraternity brothers used him to mea-
sure the length of Boston's Harvard Bridge by having him lie
down repeatedly, every 67 inches, and they made marks accord-
ingly. (The bridge is 364.4 Smoots, plus or minus one ear.)
This term was coined by NPR hosts
Click and Clack as a measurement of seating comfort, named
for writer Daniel Pinkwater. A 1.0 Pinkwater seat would be
"pretty comfortable" whereas most car seats fall
somewhere in the 0.7 Pinkwater range.
5.The Beard Second
This is the average
length a man's beard grows in one second. Experts
disagree on what the exact length is. Some say 10
nanometers; others, including the Google calcula-
tor, say it is five.
6.The Sheppey A herd of sheep can be
picturesque from a distance, but the closer you
get, the dirtier and more matted the wool looks.
Writers Douglas Adams and John Lloyd (of the
humorous dictionary The Meaning of Lift) give us a
way to measure that distance, A sheppey is how far
you need to stay from a group of sheep so that they
resemble cute balls of fluff. One sheppey is equal to
about 7/8 of a mile.
The next time you hear of something being compared to
the height of the Empire State Building or the length of a
football field, realize that there are more colorful, though
unscientific, units of measure. How well will you measure
Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2012 I 15-21 Kislev 5773 I Vol. CXLII, No. 17
34, 60, 61
Health & Wellness
18, 24, 34, 36, 54
Out & About
Points Of View
Staff Box/Phone List
Shabbat: Friday, Nov. 30, 4:43 p.m.
Shabbat Ends: Saturday, Dec.1, 5:47 p.m.
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Shabbat Ends: Saturday, Dec. 8, 5:47 p.m.
Times are according to the Yeshiva Beth
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On The Cover:
Page design, Michelle Sheridan
The Detroit Jewish News (USPS 275-520) is
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he editor is not sure whether it
is the compelling cover featur-
ing a drawing of a 1906 Central
High School athlete or the in-depth
exploration of the former congregations
of Ahavas Achim and Beth Aaron, but
something inside of this year's Michigan
Jewish History, the Jewish Historical
Society of Michigan's annual journal, is
Published annually, Michigan Jewish
History captures the stories behind
Michigan's notable Jewish communities,
citizens and events. Distributed to JHSM
members, libraries and higher-educa-
tion institutions, the journal typically
evokes a few memories and comments
from readers. But this year, says editor
Wendy Rose Bice,
-11 ,, VOW ,
MICHIGAN ILWN I 1
seems to be hap-
"I can't pin it
down, but we have
usual about this
year's journal; she
said. "The con-
tent ranges from
Ezekiel Solomon's arrival in the 1700s to
the creation of the American Arabic and
Jewish Friends of Metropolitan Detroit
in the 1980s. We profile two musicians
— Joseph Silverstein and Marguerite
Chajes — and we take a look at the life
and service of Rabbi Blustein, the chap-
lain of the former Sinai Hospital:'
One article that has readers humming
is "Motown Mensches," written by Jan
Durecki of the Leo M. Franklin Archives
at Temple Beth EL
Durecki covers the trajectory of Berry
Gordy's success, including the invaluable
work of dozens of Jewish producers,
advisers, agents, writers and singers who
worked with Gordy.
Durecki, in conjunction with the
JHSM and the Henry and Delia Meyers
Library and Media Center, is presenting
a live version of the article Dec. 6 at the
Berman Center for the Performing Arts.
The lecture will be peppered with pho-
tos and music and features a Motown
With many publications moving to
a digital-only format, Michigan Jewish
History remains a a nostalgic, paper-
Memberships to the JHSM begin at
$36. To join, call (248) 432-5517 or visit
Tickets for Motown Mensches Live!
are $8 for JHSM and JCC members and
$10 for others. Tickets are available at
November 29 • 2012