Today in Tablet Magazine, Jake Marmer interviews U.S. poet laureate Philip Levine, the brilliant bard of a town with a rich and dangerous Jewish history: Detroit.
My family did not come to the United States for religious reasons: They came to survive. None of them were religious, not in the conventional sense. They didn’t keep kosher, they didn’t go to shul. They didn’t much care about that at all. What they cared about was being proud, raising their children to be like them—strong, proud. Detroit was a viciously anti-Semitic city. It was the home of Father Coughlin and Henry Ford, that’s all you need to know. A Jew in Detroit felt he or she was immersed in a non-friendly milieu.