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March 06, 1981 - Image 14

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1981-03-06

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

14 Friday, March 6,1981

Some Insights Into History of Detroit's Synagogues

FACIAL HAIR
PERMANENTLY
REMOVED

By ALLEN A. WARSEN

(Editor's note: The ac-
companying article in no
sense tells the entire
story of the , Detroit
synagogues and their
backgrounds. It provides
a basis for knowing the
sources and some of the
personalities, rabbis and
laymen, establishing the
foundations for the De-

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troit Jewish community.)
Cong. Beth El
This brief description of
Cong. Beth El traces its his-
tory from its inception in
1850 until 1925 when it ob-
served its 75th anniversary.
Its first services were
conducted at the home of
Sarah and Isaac Cozens on
Congress and Antoine
streets.
According to the U.S.
Census of 1850, Isaac and
Sarah were natives of Ger-
many, 45 and 40-years-old,
respectively, and the par-
ents of five daughters born
in New York. The census re-
fers to Isaac as H Doctor.
As the membership of
Beth El increased, the
congregation moved to
larger quarters on Jef-
ferson Avenue. Until
1922, the congregation
moved five times — the
last time to its magnifi-.
cent edifice on Wood-
-
ward and Gladstone.
Beth El's first president
was Jacob Silberman and
vice president Solomon Be-
ndit. Rev. Samuel Marcus of
New York was its first
spiritual leader. He also
was a shokhet (kosher
slaughterer) and a cantor.
Unfortunately, he died in
an epidemic in 1854, and
was replaced by Rabbi
Liebman Adler, who in turn
was followed by a succession
of about nine rabbis, includ-
ing Dr. Kaufman Kohler,
Dr. Heinrich Zirndorf and
Dr. Leo M. Franklin.
It is well to remember
that originally Beth El was
an Orthodox congregation.
However, before long, it
began to deviate from its
Orthodox path toward Re-
form.
As a result, in 1861 the
traditionalists broke away
from Beth El and formed
Cong. Shaarey Zedek.
Since then, Cong. Beth
El underwent a complete
religious metamorphosis.
The reforms it intro-

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RABBI HERSHMAN

duced included the re-
placing Minhag (custom)
Ashkenazi Prayer Book
with that of Minhag
America, the mixed choir,
and instrumental music
became an integral part
of the service, the three-
year cycle of,reading the
Torah replaced the one-
year cycle, the aliyot (be-
ing called up to the To-
rah) were abolished, the
wearing of the "talit"
(prayer shawl) was dis-
continued, men and
women were permitted to
sit together at services.
Men were at first permit-
ted to worship with or
without covered heads,
then in 1896 the congre-
gation officially prohib-
ited men to appear in the
temple "wearing a head
covering of any kind."
This last act marked, for
all practical purposes, Beth
El's final step on its journey
from orthodoxy to refor-
mism.
The officers of Cong. Beth
El for the year 1925-1926
were: Milford Stern,
president; Wallace
Rosenheim, vice president;
Melville. S. Welt, treasurer;
Julius Rothschild, secre-
tary. The board of directors
consisted of Adolph
Finsterwald, Milton M.
Alexander, Isaac Gilbert,_
SAnuel Heavenrich, Day
Krolik, Henry Wineman,
Isaac Dreifus, Mrs. Ida M.
Ermann, Joseph Hartman,
Jacob Nathan, Dr. Herbert
I. Kallet, Joseph Selling,
Walter M. Fuchs, and Alvin
D. Hersch.

Cong. Shaarey Zedek
As already noted, in 1861
the traditionalists with-
drew.from Beth El and
formed Cong. Shaarey
Zedek. For various reasons,
the members held
their meetings and services
in private homes and halls
until 1880. In that year, the
congregation constructed
its first synagogue on the
corner of Congress and An-
toine streets. There it re-
mained until 1901.
During that period, the
Shaarey Zedek presidents,
among others, were, David
W. Simons, Nachum
Ginsberg, William Saulson.
The last served a few terms.
In 1901, as a result of
the shifting of the Jewish
population farther north,
the congregation con-
structed its second house
of worship on Winder
and Antoine streets on a

lot donated by Nachum
Ginsberg.
The congregation re-
mained there 12 years. In
1913, it moved to its third
home on Willis and Brush
streets.
In 1904, the congregation
engaged Rabbi Farber, its
first English-spoaking
rabbi.
In 1908, Rabbi Farber
resigned and was succeeded
by Rabbi Abraham M. Her-
shman, a graduate of the
Jewish Theological Semi-
nary of America.
Under Rabbi Hersi- man's
leadership, late Friday eve-
ning services were tarted,
a young people's organiza-
tion was formed, a religious
school was organized, and
the Ladies Auxiliary (now
Sisterhood), founded in
1906 by Mrs. David W.
(Laura) Simons, was re-
vived.
1925,
the
In
synagogue's cantor was
Samuel Vigoda, the

school superintendent
was A. Louis Gordon, and
the school's teachers in-
cluded, inter alia, Helen
Kass, J. Rogvoy, Theo-
dore Baruch and Philip
Rosenthal. Emma
Lazaroff (Mrs. Schaver)
was director of the as-
sembly and music.
The congregation's offi-
cers for the year 19254926
were: Maurice H. Zac-
kheim, president; Isaac
Shetzer, vice president;
Louis Soll, treasurer; and
Abraham Caplan, secre-
tary. The board of trustees
was composed of Abraham
(Continued on Page 15)

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