Diaspora in Detroit

The Jewish Immigrant Experience

This collection records the stories of Jewish immigration to Detroit, focusing on memories of the subject’s native homeland and their journey to the United States and Detroit.


Boris Drigant

In this interview Boris Drigant discusses his life in Moscow and how he came to the United States in 1987. He discusses antisemitism in both the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union and how that affected activities like getting a job. He explains the difficulty of keeping Jewish traditions alive in the Soviet Union and when he came to the United States how it was a difficult adjustment. When he came to the United States, he discusses how he found work and how his work had him travel all over the United States. He also talks about being welcomed into the Jewish Community in Detroit.

Andree Nordan

This interview discusses Nordan’s early life in Casablanca, including her family, neighborhood and religious upbringing. She speaks about moving to Paris at the age of 17 to help care for her sick grandmother.

Mireille Plotke

Plotke talks about life in Egypt, noting in the early years of her life, it was a lovely place to live. She talks about growing anti-Semitism, particularly after the state of Israel is declared in 1948 and a war in 1956. She discusses some of the religious traditions in her household pertaining to holidays. Her story includes years of waiting for visas to leave the country, a brief stop in Paris, and then continuing to the United States. She speaks about her experiences as an immigrant moving to the U.S. and the assistance she received from Jewish organizations, meeting her husband and starting her family.

Sylvie Jami Salei

This interview describes life in Tunisia for Jews following the founding of Israel. Salei speaks about Anti-Semitism she and her family faced and their decision to leave Tunisia. She talks about moving to Paris with no money or possessions and having to build a life. While vacationing in Israel, she met her ex-husband. Due to his career, they moved to the United States, eventually settling in Michigan with their family. The interview includes remarks on Sephardic traditions and practices, Anti-Semitism, and Salei’s reception by the local Jewish community in Michigan.      

Audrey Sobel

This interview describes Audrey’s life growing up in South Africa. She describes how Judaism was practiced in the home and her community. She talks about meeting her husband and moving with her family to Israel and the United States, eventually settling in Detroit. She describes the different Jewish communities she found in Israel and the United States and speaks on the importance of keeping traditions alive.

Usage Rules

The Archive prohibits use of the oral history interviews in any way that infringes on individual right to privacy or results in libelous statements or slander, in accordance with U.S. law.

Copyright to the recorded interview(s) and/or subsequent transcript(s) of such remains with the Leonard N. Simons Jewish Community Archives. Please use the following citation format:

© Leonard N. Simons Jewish Community Archives. [Name of Subject] Oral History Interview, [Date of Interview].