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July 12, 1985 - Image 15

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-07-12

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Left: The former home of Ahavas Achim
today is the home of the Pentecostal
Church of God:
Below Left: A Baptist congregation has
taken over the former synagogue occupied
by Cong. Beth Moses.
Below Right: Ahavas Achim's last site
prior to moving to Southfield today is the
Greater Grace Temple.

the premier congregation.
During the First World War,
Jews had wandered across Wood-
ward as well, settling in new
neighborhoods around Twelfth Street
and further west toward Linwood.
By the early 1940s, Detroit's Jews
were definitely a west-side commu-
Between 1920 and 1950, about
20 congregations were active in the
Twelfth Street-Linwood area.
Emanuel, on Taylor and Woodrow
Wilson, Beth Yehuda, on Pingree
and Woodrow Wilson, B'nai David,
on Elmhurst and Fourteenth Street,
were three of the most architectur-
ally imposing synagogues in the
Some of the Jews who wandered
out of the Hastings and Oakland
areas settled even further west, mov-
ing to the streets around Dexter.
Cong. B'nai Zion, founded in 1922,
built a beautiful synagogue at the
corner of Humphrey and Holmur.
B'nai Moshe was housed in an im-
pressive building on Dexter and
In the late 1940s, Twelfth Street
underwent the by now familiar tran-
sition from a Jewish neighborhood to
a black one. In 1950, most of De-
troit's synagogues were located in
the Linwood-Dexter area.
World War II and the horrors of

the Holocaust brought about 100,000
Jewish immigrants to the United
States. The immigrants who settled
in Detroit mainly joined existing
congregations, but one group of Jews
from Germany founded their own
synagogue, Gemilas Chasodim. Some
followers of the Satmarer Rebbe also
formed their own congregation,
Kahal Chareidim and adherents of
the Agudas Israel movement held
their own services, as well.
In the late 1930s, the affluent,
elegant streets west of Palmer Park
attracted a number of Jews. By
1949, about a quarter of Detroit's
Jewish population lived in the
northwest section of the city. Jews
left Linwood and Dexter, and the
area of northwest settlement ex-
panded. By the late. 1950s, Dexter
was no longer a Jewish area; most of
Detroit's Jewish population lived in
the Mumford High School area. A
stretch of Wyoming between Six and
Seven Mile roads contained five syn-
agogues, the largest of which was
Beth Aaron. Adas Shalom, Beth Ab-
raham and Ahavas Achim built
large synagogues in other parts of
northwest Detroit.
In the early 1950s, Jews with
"pioneering" spirit struck out for
parts of the city further west, beyond
Schaefer towards the western city
limits. By the late 1950s, Beth


Moses, Gemilas Chasodim and B'nai
Jacob had synagogues in this area,
roughly defined by the Henry Ford
High School district.
The end of World War II sig-
naled the beginning of suburban
America and Detroit's Jews were no
exception to the phenomenon — wit-
ness the rapid development of Oak
Park. In the 1960s, the move was on
to Southfield, and in the late 1970s
and early 1980s, Farmington Hills
and West Bloomfield pulled Jews
farther from Detroit's city limits
than they had ever been.
Since 1860, Detroit Jews have
founded more than 100 congrega-
tions. Many are still in existence. A
number of others sprang up to serve
a particular neighborhood, and as
the Jews moved out, were not re-
established in new areas of settle-
ment. Synagogues have been located
in converted houses, converted
churches and even converted banks.
Names have changed. Beth Eliyahu
became B'nai Moshe; Beth David be-
came B'nai David; Beth Israel be-
came Shaarey Shomayim. Congrega-
tions have merged. In 1932, Beth
Tefilo joined with Emanuel, and in
1961 absorbed Beth Tikvah to be-
come Beth Tefilo Emanuel Tikvah,
the first three-way synagogue
merger in Detroit history. Beth Ab-

Continued on next page

Friday, July 12, 1985 15

Almost every
former Jewish
house of worship
still standing
in the city of
Detroit is
today a church.



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