Coming of Age: Detroit
Digital series features inspiring older Jewish role models in Detroit.
I have always had an affinity for the older generation. Both of my parents died fairly young, in their early 60s. To work through my grief, I sought out surrogates to fill their void. I worked in a nursing home during college. I befriended seniors at Starbucks and on park benches, and over the years built a community of older role models I now call my friends.
Around five years ago, I had the idea of picking up a camera to film older Jews and capture their stories. After 25+ years as a media and entertainment publicist, I decided it was time to follow this calling – to seek out and interview inspiring Jewish seniors and explore aging through a Jewish lens.
With the help of Reboot, I launched Silver Screen Studios to start building a library of wisdom, advice and encouragement; a chronicle of daily hopes and misgivings from the greatest generation). Even if my parents weren’t here, I thought, perhaps I could capture other people’s stories before it was too late, for the benefit of their own families and for future generations.
Over the years, we have interviewed extraordinary older role models from Hollywood icons to Holocaust survivors, but it is often the everyday seniors who have the most incredible stories to tell, stories yet to be told and only because no one has asked.
In our latest installment, we turn our lens on a diverse group of older Detroiters.
The new “Coming of Age” season, premiering in a rollout through the month, will share the stories of some of the motor city’s most colorful and dynamic older role models. From entrepreneur Larry Mongo, owner of Cafe D’Mongos Speakeasy in Downtown Detroit and the philanthropy of Max Fisher family scion and matriarch Jane Sherman, to the vivid oral history of the Cass Corridor arts scene in the 1970s by legendary artist Nancy Mitchnick, the transformative work of Restoration Arts Theater by founder Dr. James Allen Jones, who brought Shakespeare education to everyone, and the witty insights of Joel Katz, successor to a multi-generational plumbing business that saved many during Detroit’s harsh winters.
Silver Screen Studios previously produced films in Detroit about the late Senator Carl Levin, who spoke about his legacy of advocacy and social justice on behalf of Michigan families and legendary labor organizer Myra Wolfgang.
In Judaism, the role of the Bubbies and Zadies are sacrosanct and Reboot helped me understand the cultural importance of this work by memorializing our collective stories from generation to generation, l’dor v’dor.
To this day, I want nothing more than to talk to my parents, to get their perspective on the state of the world, to introduce them to their grandchildren and to bask in the unmistakable feeling of familial bonding that we all desperately need right now.
For me, during these uncertain times, capturing the stories of our loved ones and inspiring older role models is vital – everyone has a story to tell, all you have to do is ask.
Coming of Age: Detroit was directed by Noam Dromi, managing director of Reboot Studios and produced by Robert-David Jones. Executive Producers are Tiffany Woolf and Noam Dromi.
Learn more about Silver Screen Studios and see all the interviews here.