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The theme of Ann Arbor’s  200th Anniversary Party and Celebration, held on May 25, 2024, was celebrating our diverse past.  Towards that end, residents from seven different ethnic backgrounds and communities were asked to speak about What the Bicentennial Means to Me. In addition, we were pleased with the participation of U.S. House Representative Debbie Dingell who shared her speech that was presented to Congress on May 23, 2024.  These speeches clearly demonstrated why Ann Arbor is such a special place to live.  Thanks to Hon. Debbie Dingell, Bev Willis, Amy Seetoo, John Metzger, Christina Morales Hemenway, Ali Ramlawi, and Charles Newman for their inspiring contribution to Ann Arbor’s Bicentennial.

Ann Arbor Bicentennial Celebration Speeches

Speaker:  House of Representatives Hon. Debbie Dingell


Hon. Debbie Dingell Introduction:

Congresswoman Debbie Dingell represents Michigan’s 6th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. She is a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Natural Resources Committee, where she leads on critical issues including affordable and accessible health care, clean energy and water, domestic manufacturing and supply chain resilience, and protecting our wildlife and natural resources. She also serves on the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, where she works with colleagues to determine the origins and impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring the United States is prepared for future public health emergencies.


Hon. Debbie Dingell Speech:

IN CELEBRATION OF THE BICENTENNIAL OF THE CITY OF ANN ARBOR- Recorded in the Congressional Record on May 23, 2024


"Mister Speaker, I rise today to recognize the City of Ann Arbor on the 200th anniversary of its founding. The contributions its residents have made to the State of Michigan and to the nation over the last two centuries are worthy of commendation.

Originally the Village of Annarbour, this community was named after the wives of its two founders, who were both named Ann, and was also inspired by the large forest in the area. Founded in 1824, historic Ann Arbor predates the establishment of the State of

Michigan by thirteen years.


Ann Arbor is home to one of the most prestigious universities in the world: The University of Michigan. The University of Michigan was originally established in 1817 as Catholepistemiad Michigania in Detroit, then a fledgling capital of the Territory of

Michigan, and later relocated to Ann Arbor in 1837. Since its founding, the university has brought defining cultural, economic, and intellectual growth to greater Ann Arbor. The students, staff, and faculty come from all 50 American states and over 100 countries globally, contributing to the worldly and diverse culture of this community. In addition to its numerous accolades for its academic prestige, University of Michigan Athletics continues to make Ann Arbor proud. Just this past January, the University of Michigan Football Team defeated the Washington Huskies, bringing a national championship title back to Ann Arbor for the first time since 1997.


It is not just the University of Michigan that makes Ann Arbor special. The cultural and religious diversity of the city has been a source of strength and has also led to Ann Arbor being the site of many monumental political and civil rights activities. From traditional denominations to more contemporary organizations, there is something for everyone in this vibrant city. Beth Israel, one of the oldest synagogues in the state, was founded in 1916. The city was also the home of the first meetings of the Students for a Democratic Society in 1960, a national student activist group. That same year, President John F. Kennedy set in motion the development of the Peace Corps on the steps of the Michigan Union. In 1964, President Lyndon B Johnson gave his “Great Society” speech at the University of Michigan’s commencement. In 1965, the city was the location of the first American 'teach in' in protest of the Vietnam War.


Ann Arbor has long been known as a hotbed for technological innovation and start-ups. The International Radio Corporation, established in Ann Arbor in 1931, was responsible for the first mass-produced AC/DC radio as well as the Argus C3, one of the top-selling cameras in history. ProQuest, founded in 1938 as University Microfilms, has been at the forefront of the preservation of documents for research purposes since their founding. Thomas Knoll, an Ann Arbor native, created Adobe Photoshop in 1987 while completing his Ph.D. at the University of Michigan. Duo Security, a leader in two-factor internet security, was founded in 2009. Presently, Ann Arbor is host to over 20 video game and XR studios of varying sizes and hosts monthly meetings of the International Game Developers Association. Ann Arbor is also home to many nationally and internationally recognized businesses like Domino’s Pizza, one of the largest pizza brands in the world.


Mister Speaker, I ask my colleagues to join me today in celebrating the City of Ann Arbor on the occasion of their bicentennial. For the past 200 years, Ann Arbor has stood as a beacon of progress, diversity, and excellence. From its humble beginnings to its current status as a thriving and exemplary city, this milestone is a testament to their commitment to innovation, education, and community. We are excited to see what the residents of Ann Arbor can accomplish in the years to come!"


Speaker: Bev Willis

Bev Willis Introduction:

Bev is the Administrator of the Washtenaw County Historical Society. She is vice-president of the Ann Arbor Historical Foundation, co-chair of the Exhibits and Collections committee for the African American Cultural and Historical Museum of Washtenaw County (AACHM), and a member of the African American Endowment Fund. She is also a freelance graphic designer, project consultant, and community service volunteer for local organizations. She has 14 years of experience at the Museum on Main Street developing exhibits, print materials, and digital assets to share stories at the heart of community heritage. Her passion for history and art was ignited by her own family story and school visits to the museums, monuments, and parks in Washington DC where she grew up. This included the opportunity to attend Howard University, and the University of Michigan Art School receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.


Bev Willis Speech:

"What does Ann Arbor’s Bicentennial mean to me? The Washtenaw County Historical Society was founded 167 years ago, just 33 years after the city’s founding, right here in Ann Arbor. The very first generation of pioneers saw the value of documentation and preservation of their heritage for future generations.


As the administrator of the Historical Society, I have met and spent time with descendants of some of Ann Arbor’s early and founding families.  I work in a house that was built in 1835 when Ann Arbor was only 11 years old. It was moved from Wall Street in Lowertown 35 years ago and has been open to the public as the Museum on Main Street for the last 25 years. Our current exhibit is 'Ann Arbor’s Story: The first 50 years.' It is full of objects and artifacts from Ann Arbor’s earliest days and one of the most curious periods of our history.

For me, the Bicentennial means taking a look back and appreciating the past for what we can learn from it.  And it is also a time to look forward, firmly planted and grounded in the present, but using the knowledge of the past to create the best future for the community of Ann Arbor and those it supports.

The generations who came before us made choices with consequences that we live with every day. Some of us are here in Ann Arbor because of those choices, while some of us are here despite them. Here in this Bicentennial year, we can acknowledge and honor the generations of those people for their hard work, spirit, drive, and difficult choices that made Ann Arbor what it is today. Ann Arbor is today a community of makers, doers, dreamers, believers, strivers, survivors, educators, and innovators. We are everyday people just trying to live our best lives.

Before the 201st year begins in 2025, take a Bicentennial moment to imagine what the future can be and consider what part you can play. How can the knowledge and lessons of the last 200 years direct our current choices and elevate future actions? As the torch is passed from this generation to the next, let its bright light signal a healthy, inclusive, and thriving community, so their milestones will be as much fun as this one!"


Speaker: Amy Seetoo


Amy Seetoo Introduction:

Born in Taipei, Taiwan, Amy landed in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois in 1968 to pursue her first graduate degree, in teaching English as a second language. There she learned the importance of cross-cultural communication and cultural exchange. Later, she earned an MBA from the University of Michigan.

She arrived in Ann Arbor in 1980 to work for University Microfilms, an information services company.   In the late 1990s, she promoted Asian American health, encouraging Asian Americans to get regular health screening.  Between 2001 and 2005, she hosted a weekly radio talk show, “Chinese Voice” on AM1480.  She interviewed interesting people in Chinese and English.

In 2003, she was the first female Asian American to run for the Ann Arbor City Council. Amy also co-founded and served as president of the Chinese American Society of Ann Arbor (or CASAA) and the Michigan Taiwanese American Organization (MITAI) to promote cultural exchange.  She served as president twice of the American Association of University Women ( AAUW) Ann Arbor Branch to promote women’s equality.

Among the honors she has received was being one of the honorees of the WCC Women’s Council in 2016, also called “Shero” award.  She is now promoting the “Mah-Jongg Baggaley Style” in SE Michigan, recognizing her late husband Stuart Baggaley, who developed and taught a locally popular version of the Chinese style Mah-Jongg. 


Amy Seetoo Speech:

"I have spent more than half of my life in this magical city!  Or, more than one-fifth of the City’s 200 years!  What is the magic in Ann Arbor?

Some people believe that 80,000 people come to the City every day to work. However, I have observed that probably 80,000 people go out of Ann Arbor to work every day because they prefer to live here and enjoy its diverse cultural events.

Before I arrived here in 1980 from Urbana-Champaign, from another Big Ten Conference school, I was told that Ann Arbor had its own Gilbert and Sullivan Society.  Well, it also has its own Comic Opera Guild, its own Women’s Chamber Chorus, its own International Neighbors, its own Embracing Our Differences Michigan, and many more organizations.  In fact, one doesn’t have enough time to go to all the events by different organizations listed in the beloved Ann Arbor Observer, such as the Annual Used Book Sale of AAUW and the cultural events by Michigan Taiwanese American Organization at the Ann Arbor District Library.


When I arrived in 1980, I was pleasantly surprised to find personal connections.  I found that one of my mother’s high school classmates in an American missionary-sponsored high school near Beijing had been living here. She was Isabelle Louis.  Bob Wu, an architect, had played in an orchestra in Shanghai with my uncles.  Moreover, my first-grade teacher Ms. Sheng was getting her doctorate degree in linguistics here!

Growing up in Taipei, I only vaguely heard of Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan because U of M had a project with my alma mater the National Chengchi University.  I didn’t expect to divorce, remarry, and be widowed here. If things go as planned, my ashes will be interred at Forest Hill Cemetery. Ann Arbor is my forever home. Here is one Ann Arborite celebrating its 200th birthday!"


Speaker: John Metzger


John Metzger Introduction:

John is the owner of Metzger’s German restaurant and worked at Metzger’s for over 50 years. He is a life long resident of Ann Arbor and attended the University of Michigan in 1976 and 1977. He was a member of the Michigan Marching Band at that time and is currently a member of Ann Arbor Concert Band playing trumpet.


John Metzger Speech:

"Thank you Lucy Ann for that nice introduction and thank you Jeff for inviting me here today. What a great place for a celebration! The Kemph house is right behind us.  Actually, my father took piano lessons from Mr. Kemph in the 30’s with the iconic Michigan

Theater and the Bell Tower to the east!


I am a lifelong resident of Ann Arbor and proud to be. I attended Pattongill, Tappen junior high, and yes, Lucy Ann, I’m a RIVER Rat

just like you only much older.


Good afternoon, friends and community members. If you’ve been to our beloved family restaurant, Metzger’s, you may have seen a bright red countdown clock on the wall behind our busy bar. Many people ask me what the clock is ticking down to. The answer is that it’s counting down the years, months, days, hours, and seconds to our upcoming centennial. We’ll celebrate 100 years of Metzger’s in 2028.


I have the distinct honor of being the grandson of Wilhelm Metzger, the visionary patriarch who laid the foundation for what would become Metzger’s German Restaurant, which today is located on Zeeb Road in Ann Arbor.


As I join you all today to celebrate 200 years of our great city of Ann Arbor, it gives me tremendous pride that our family has been part of this community for almost half of those amazing years. For me, this moment is not just about commemorating the bicentennial of Ann Arbor. It’s also a celebration of the contributions of Ann Arbor’s immigrant communities like ours,

which have been woven into the very fabric of this city. My grandfather Wilhelm's journey started from humble beginnings in Württemberg, Germany. All the way across the Atlantic, German villagers had heard about what a great city Ann Arbor was. My grandfather’s life then changed forever when a baker named Sam Huesel (grandfather of local radio star Ted Huesel)

sponsored him to emigrate to America, along with his two brothers, and gave him a job in his bakery here in his dream city of Ann Arbor. After the bakery, he worked at the Michigan Union, as a pastry chef alongside future University of Michigan football coach Benny Oosterban. Go Blue!! Wilhelm opened his first German-American restaurant at 122 West Washington on December 8, 1928. At the time, Prohibition was in full swing. Metzger’s weathered many other storms in the decades ahead, including the tough times of the Great Depression and false rumors about Wilhelm being involved in anti-American espionage in the early 40’s, but the restaurant continued to survive thanks to the support of this great city and to the Ann Arbor News who quelled the rumors. In 1936, the restaurant relocated to 203 East Washington, and 65 years later, moved to the current location.


Growing up in the restaurant, amidst the bustling kitchen and warm conversations, I witnessed firsthand the dedication and passion that my family poured into every aspect of its operation. From my grandfather’s steadfast commitment to quality and authenticity to my parents' unwavering resolve to carry the torch forward into a new era, Metzger’s has always been more than just a business—it is a labor of love, a testament to four generations of the enduring spirit of our family. Actually, five generations now my young grandsons help out now on occasion, Nico and Georgie are here today! Today, I have many thanks to offer. Thanks to our staff, many of whom have been with us for over 40 years, to my family, and to the generations of patrons and the grander community of Ann Arbor, who have supported us steadfastly throughout the years. And most of all, thanks to the enduring legacy of Wilhelm and Marie Metzger, whose vision and dedication continue to inspire us to this day. We raise our steins with you today to celebrate 200 years of this great city!!  Thank you."


Speaker: Christina Morales Hemenway


Christina Morales Hemenway Introduction:

Although probably best known in A2 as Elmo’s daughter, Christina is also an award-winning writer/director of 5 feature films, a mother to two sons, and a creative success coach.


Christina Morales Hemenway Speech:

"I was born in Ann Arbor and then went out to LA for 20 years where I was a movie director but I missed the trees, I missed my family and I missed my home so I came back. Ann Arbor is very different than it was when I was growing up here in the 70’s but my roots are still here.  =My mother and father met at UofM. He grew up in Puerto Rican Harlem in New York and got a full track scholarship and my mom was born in Detroit and worked to put herself through school all on her own.


They met in the fish bowl, got married on graduation day in 1969 and I was born 9 months later.  My dad was a gym teacher and my mom was a therapist and I’m very proud of how they impacted so many lives in this community for the better.

This bicentennial got me thinking about what Ann Arbor was like before I was born and being that I’m a filmmaker, that inspired a concept for a movie where a present-day 17-year-old girl switches places with her grandma’ 17-year-old body in 1969 Ann Arbor. It was fun doing research for what was happening in Ann Arbor, while I was marinating in my mother’s womb. I found so many synchronicities with what was happening with my fictitious characters and the real-life characters in Ann Arbor at the time.  As an example, I needed a confidant for my lead character who would want to capture her story, and I found out that the famous Documentarian Ken Burns was a 16-year-old at Pioneer then and wrote for the Ann Arbor News! Another example— we had established that the lead character’s band practiced at the Neutral Zone in the present day and I was looking for a place for her to cross paths with Iggy Pop in the past, so I looked it up, and the only place I found that Iggy pop played in 1969 was the 5th Forum- which is right across the street from Neutral Zone.  There are even some surprises in the script about how my father impacted UofM football to this day. So I’m really excited about sharing this script with the Ann Arbor community and today we are going to be doing a reading of it from 3-5 at the downtown library FreeSpace on the 3rd floor. I encourage everyone to come- and especially if you have insights to share about 1969, Ann Arbor."



Speaker: Artemis Leontis


Artemis Leontis Introduction:

Artemis Leontis is a native of Michigan, citizen of Ann Arbor since 1999, member of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, and C.P. Cavafy Professor of Modern Greek and Comparative at the University of Michigan.


Artemis Leontis Speech:

"The Ann Arbor Bicentennial. What a spectacular occasion! I am honored to be here to celebrate and reflect on our beloved city’s 200 years. Wow! What a difference 200 years make!


To address what Ann Arbor’s bicentennial means to me, I will say a few words about how Ann Arbor became the city where I live; the magic I found when I moved here; and what we must do to keep the magic alive.


Like most of us, my roots in Ann Arbor do not go back 200 years. Native people of the Three Fires Confederacy had lived here for centuries before 1824. They raised families, buried their loved ones, and tended the land. By 1824, when the village of Ann Arbour was established within the traditional territories of the Anishinaabe people—the Ojibwe, Ottawa, and Potawatomi—and the Wyandot, they had been forced to cede their lands. A few remained and are still caring for this place.


While this was happening 200 years ago, my Greek ancestors lived in southeastern Europe and in empires that were thriving: the Ottoman Empire on my father’s side and the British Protectorate of the Ionian Islands on my mother’s side. But those empires collapsed just over 100 years ago. My paternal grandparents became refugees, my maternal grandparents lost their livelihood. They sought shelter in the United States in the early 1900s. They rebuilt their lives in cities on the East Coast and in the Midwest. One grandfather ran his own soda shop business in Plainfield, New Jersey, the other worked in a rubber factory until he saved enough money to open a shoeshine and hat-blocking enterprise in Springfield, Ohio.


They were not unlike the Greeks who came to Ann Arbor in the early 1900s from places like Magnesia on the west coast of Turkey and villages in the Peloponnese, central Greece, and the Greek islands.


By 1930 the number of Greeks in Ann Arbor had grown to around 400, or 1.3% of Ann Arbor’s population of 27,000. They held Greek Orthodox church services in the garage of a house that still stands on the corner of Pauline Street and Seventh Avenue. The first Greek Orthodox priest, Father Agathangelos, was a refugee, like my paternal grandparents. He conducted services in Greek and could read and write Greek but spoke a Turkish dialect written in Greek script. There is a published police report of a raid on the house in late October 1930, when Agathangelos’s son Constantine was arrested for violation of liquor prohibition laws. Two bottles of wine found on the premises had been distilled by him, likely for the church eucharist (The Michigan Daily 41:26, Oct. 28, 1930, p. 3).


Though small in numbers, Greeks of Ann Arbor had a real presence in Kerrytown, along the Main Street corridor, and near the University of Michigan. For decades Greeks dominated the hospitality industry. The Michigan Theater was built in 1927 by Angelo Poulos, owner of the Allenel Hotel. The Sugar Bowl, an ice cream, chocolates, and soda shop on south Main Street owned by the Preketes brothers, was an institution from 1911 to 1967. In addition to ice cream and candy stores and restaurants, Greeks owned groceries, pool halls, repair shops, printing shops, and eventually real estate. In 1933 they pooled their money to build the first St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church on North Main to serve their religious and social needs. The newer, larger St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church on Scio Church Road is now the gathering place of Greeks and other Orthodox parishioners and extends hospitality to thousands of visitors annually with its Greek Festival. 


Greeks are among many immigrants and internal migrants who came to Ann Arbor in waves beginning with German and British settlers and continuing with Blacks from the American South, other Europeans, Chinese, Japanese, Filipinos, people of the Middle East, and, after passage of the Immigration Act of 1965, people from all over the world. They have worked in light manufacturing, milling, brewing, rug making, furniture making, piano building, and just about every other line of work. They have created their own businesses and institutions. They have become students, staff, and educators in Ann Arbor’s schools and the University of Michigan. They are artists, musicians, and professionals. They are citizens and vote. They have contributed to the city’s growth. They have added to the city’s cultural richness and depth of expertise. They have given Ann Arbor its terrifically diverse creative, communal vibe. This was the Ann Arbor that drew me here 25 years ago.


In 1999, Greek community members in southeast Michigan endowed a professorship in Modern Greek at the University of Michigan. The idea was to build a Modern Greek Program at a world-renowned R1 university to teach young people Greek language and culture as it is spoken and lived today and to spark a conversation inside and outside the university on burning matters about a corner of the world that continues to undergo rapid change. Since then, people from town and gown have been keeping the conversation going on and off campus.


Let me mention some of the local places owned and operated by Greeks where we have gathered. Some continue to operate, but many have closed, as I will indicate:


  • Angelos (no longer in business)

  • Brown Jug (open)

  • Carlyle Grill (open)

  • Cottage Inn (no longer in business)

  • Franks Restaurant (closed and reopened)

  • KouZina (no longer in business)

  • Mediterrano (open)

  • Mezes Greek Grill (no longer in business)

  • Parthenon (no longer in business)

  • Real Seafood / Palio (open)

  • Thanos’s Lamplighter (no longer in business)

  • Uptown Coney Island (open) 


I agreed to leave my longtime home in Ohio and join the faculty at the University in Ann Arbor 25 years ago to be part of not just an exciting program-building project but importantly a vibrant, culturally rich small city with a dynamic Greek and other immigrant and minority communities. Ann Arbor drew me here: as a place where town meets gown, histories crisscross, the depth of expertise is remarkable, the cultural riches are awe-inspiring, the conversations don’t stop, and the Huron River with its paths for humans and our animal friends remind us of our region’s deep history. You can walk or ride a bike almost anywhere. You can cross town in a car in 15 minutes on a rare day when the lights are in your favor.


Together, in the socially and culturally diverse city, we face the enormous challenges of our day. Ann Arbor’s Welcoming America initiative with immigrant-friendly policies, practices, and programs is important. But the greatest challenge to the city’s historical diversity is the unaffordability of our city. Ann Arbor has become a place where the university’s staff and students and even many faculty members cannot afford to live—let alone immigrants and migrants who are looking for a place to remake their lives. Yet these are the people—like the Greek immigrants of the 20th century—who will keep on giving Ann Arbor its creative, culturally rich edge.


Looking ahead, the city of Ann Arbor, now in its third century, must find new ways to keep the creative spark of Ann Arbor alive. At base, the fundamental, underlying principle is that the city cannot be just for the rich. Ann Arbor’s housing must become affordable again. Opportunities must be open again to the next generation of hungry displaced dreamers and creators."


Speaker: Ali Ramlawi

Ali Ramlawi Introduction:

Ali Ramlawi is a second-generation Palestinian-American born in Detroit who has called Ann Arbor home since 2001.  He is best known in town for being the owner and operator of Jerusalem Garden restaurant for over 30 years and served on Ann Arbor City Council from 2018-2022.


Ali Ramlawi Speech:

"Thank you to the bicentennial committee for organizing today’s event and for inviting me to speak today- it is a true honor for me to be a part of this, celebrating Ann Arbor’s bicentennial.

I would like to take a moment this Memorial Day weekend to recognize and honor all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in upholding and protecting our freedoms that enjoy each day.

I would also like to recognize and pay respect to the indigenous Native American peoples who flourished in this area before Settler colonialism pushed them to near extinction.

When I was asked to speak today by our community leaders, I was lost for words which is rare for me, but knew I could not say no- , as they are one of the many reasons that make Ann Arbor so unique and special - I have tremendous respect for all of them, past and current.

As many of us know, Ann Arbor was first settled by German immigrants over 200 years ago who were seeking a better life and greater opportunity for them and their loved ones.  This is ultimately my story as well-but I don’t speak German.

I am here today as a consequence of what occurred at the end of WW2 when my father’s family was forcibly displaced from Palestine.  He made the difficult decision to leave his homeland and immigrate to the United States for safe harbor and economic opportunity.

After arriving in Detroit in 1962, my parents worked hard for many years to help provide for their children and many others.  It was in the early 1980’s that they discovered Ann Arbor as a multi-cultural center in which they felt was the right place to open an ethnic restaurant that was immediately welcomed by this community and years later become a locally cherished institution. 

There is a never-ending conversation as to what makes a city great.  Is it the buildings, the start of political movements, the art scene, the natural beauty,  the restaurants, the shops, or the schools?  This conversation will continue long after today, But one thing is certain, Ann Arbor is just that, a great city with all of these and much more.

The University of Michigan has been gravitational force bringing people and cultures from around the world to help shape create a unique melting pot that we all can be proud of and learn from, it is the people that came from far distances that have shaped what we are here today to celebrate- cultural diversity!

Ann Arbor has long been a welcoming, safe community for humanity to feel safe, prosper and proudly call home- including having been an important stop along the underground railway.

My birthday wish for Ann Arbor is that as we continue to move forward, and that we provide space for the craftspeople, the artists, the educators, spiritual healers and leaders as has been our storied history so that many more generations of diverse people can continue this legacy. Thank you Ann Arbor for everything and God Bless you all."


Speaker: Charles Newman


Charles Newman Introduction:

Chuck has been an entrepreneur since starting his first company while a University of Michigan undergraduate. His last company, ReCellular, collected and refurbished over 50,000,000 used cellular phones for reuse. With his wife Sharon, he founded the Ann Arbor Jewish Community Center and he also was a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Bank of Ann Arbor. He was a member of the boards of numerous local organizations including Habitat for Humanity and the Ark.


Charles Newman Speech:

"I didn’t understand why I was asked to have the privilege of speaking today until it dawned on me that it’s probably because I’ve been an adult living in Ann Arbor for 1/3 of its existence. Of course, that assumes that a college freshman is an adult which is a dubious proposition, especially in my case..


This long residence has given me a perspective on how Ann Arbor has continued to evolve as a place of acceptance, ideas, and innovation.


When I arrived in Ann Arbor in 1958 as a college freshman, ethnic dining consisted of Leo Ping's and the Lantern Garden, both of which served food that bore a striking similarity to what comes out of a can of Chun King chop suey and German food from The Old German, Metzgers and the Heildberg because of the German ancestry of many early residents of Ann Arbor. The fact that we can eat in restaurants serving Middle Eastern, Eastern European, Himalayan, Peruvian, Ecuadorian and about every other cuisine reflects Ann Arbor’s increasing diversity and appreciation of immigrant cultures.


In 1958, there was one Jewish congregation, and today there are seven, all of which are of a different denomination, which is a good reflection of the diversity within the Jewish community itself. Since then, a Jewish Community Center, which hosts a Jewish film festival, a Jewish book fair, and a Muslim Community Center, has been established, along with Jewish Family Services, the largest agency resettling immigrants of all religious backgrounds in Washtenaw County.  


During the period I've lived in Ann Arbor I’ve seen the elimination of informal quotas on Jewish students and faculty (there was an understanding then that there would be no more than two Jewish UM law school faculty). And of course, and this might be the most important reflection of the increased richness of Jewish life in Ann Arbor, we now have that “good Jewish deli” in Ann Arbor my fellow Jews craved: Zingermans. Nothing illustrates how much Jewish life has changed than the fact that if you wanted to buy a bagel in the early 1980s, you would have to go to Ralph’s Market on Packard.


While I've lived in Ann Arbor, we have had Black mayors, Jewish mayors, women mayors, and I'm confident that we will see mayors and leaders from other minority communities long before Ann Arbor celebrates its Semiquincentennial.


In summary, this bicentennial has given me an opportunity to celebrate and honor the contributions of so many Ann Arborites whose values reflect the best of the American dream."

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