Publication Nu?Detroit amplifies diverse voices within Jewish community

A new digital publication is amplifying voices within Jewish Detroit. Called Nu?Detroit, the online platform was started by writer and nonprofiteer Ben Falik, member of the Michigan State Board of Education Ellen Cogen Lipton, community activist Mark Jacobs, and Wayne State University student Alicia Chandler who is pursuing a Ph.D. in sociology.

Alicia Chandler

“Some of us go back a long time, but Ben brought us all together,” Chandler said. “Ben and Mark began a conversation about creating something that would tap into the curiosity and compassion of our community.”

What better way than with an independent publication that lets the community tell their own stories? Nu?Detroit was born. Nu is a Yiddish word meaning “so” but really means “come on, tell me more.”

“That is how we think of Nu?Detroit—a forum to hear more from the community,” she said. 

The platform launched on March 26 of this year. By the time this article was published, 73 articles had been published to the site. In the beginning, the founders reached out to people who they thought had interesting stories to tell, Chandler said. But they’ve been getting more and more unsolicited submissions as these stories make their way out into the world.

The response from the Jewish community in and outside Detroit has been overwhelmingly positive. Chandler talked about an article they published on the experience of a mother whose child came out as transgender. “We were contacted by an individual in Hawaii who read the article and was interested in starting a Stand With Trans chapter.”

Chandler said the big idea is to celebrate the diversity of the Jewish community. “Our tagline is ‘Dispatches from Detroit’s 12 Tribes and Diaspora.’ There is sometimes this idea that our Jewish community is monolithic,” she said. “Nu?Detroit acknowledges that the Jewish community is made up of many overlapping tribes and that while we may share common experiences, we often have diverse experiences also. Understanding both our commonalities and our differences can empower us as a community.”

Anyone can submit a story for publication to the site. Nu?Detroit simply asks that pieces draw from “Three E’s:” personal experience, evidence to support and contextualize, and empathy for others.

The publication has a number of established partnerships, including with Wayne State University Press. Nu?Detroit will publish an excerpt from Wayne State University Press books once a month. The first was from Harvey Ovshinsky’s memoir Scratching the Surface: Adventures in Storytelling, which quickly became one of their most popular pieces, Chandler said.

Wayne State University faculty have also published stories. Howard Lupovitch, Ph.D., associate professor of history and director of the Cohn-Haddow Center for Judaic Studies, and Erika Bocknek, Ph.D., associate professor of educational psychology, are recurring contributors.

“Their insightful work is a reminder for our readers that Wayne State is an incredible resource to have in the heart of Detroit.”

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