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October 03, 1986 - Image 15

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-10-03

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young synagogue. "I thought it
would be nice to be a member of a
group that was new," he says, add-
ing that he was anxious to make
sure that his children would come
into contact with other Jewish kids.
A Holocaust survivor, Kovaks
does not feel insecure in Troy. Now-
adays, "there's more acceptance of
each other's faiths. When I lived in
New York, I found that if you stated
your beliefs, people will respect you."
But in near isolation from other
Jews and Judaism, will his children
believe in anything strongly enough
to stand up for it?
"We haven't done our job in
education properly," Kovaks con-
cedes, but we're working on it. This
congregation is trying to do a good
The Troy Jewish Congregation
seems to have brought a lot of people
out," Donna Bookholder observes.
She and her husband Ronald belong
to both TJC and Temple Beth El.
She is the secretary of the Troy-
Rochester chapter of ORT, a small
group which she says, is really just
getting itself organized. Donna is
also a Troy "patriot."
"We've found everything we
need in Troy. We're pleased with the
schools. There's good access to get
anywhere, so we don't feel any isola-
tion." Local events are attended by
the entire family, she says, so there
is a strong family atmosphere. There
is less emphasis on the material.
"It's a nice down-to-earth
group," she emphasizes.
We started in 1980 with seven
children," says Ruth Stein, former
principal of the United Hebrew
Schools branch in Troy. This year,
the school has 70 students, ages four
through bar mitzvah age attending
classes held in the Bemis Elemen-
tary School. Stein was originally the
school's only instructor, but now
there is a staff of six teachers.
She says it is "tough" to raise
Jewish kids in a Christian environ-
ment. The aim of the school, she
says, is to give the students — who
come from public schools where they
may be the lone Jew — "a good feel-
ing about being Jewish."
Stein sees success in the UHS
endeavors: "When one of our boys
had his bar mitzvah, he felt comfort-
able enough to invite his public
school class. Some of our kids serve
as Jewish 'experts' in the public
schools," she adds.
Stein believes that, because
their families are such a tiny minor-
ity, east side parents take more
interest in their child's Jewish edu-
cation than in communities with a
heavier Jewish concentration. In a
mixed marriage, she says, the non-
Jewish partner is often just as active
in the child's Jewish education as
the Jewish partner. She calls the
school community "an extended fam-

roy is currently undergoing a
building and population boom.
The 1980 census reports the ci-
ty's population to be just over
67,000. Acccording to Troy
planning director Laurence Keisling,
present population is over 75,000.
About 500 single family residential
permits are now issued per year. The
1985 permit value of total construc-
tion was over $200 million, the
highest in Oakland County, Keisling
Rochester Hills, to the north of
Troy, is undergoing similarly im-
pressive growth, with 1985 permit
construction values at $135 million,
according to Gene Ferrera, the city's
building department director. Last
year 1,003 single family houses were
How many Jews are entering
into this east side boom? There are
no precise figures. Iry Wengrow says
that from placing ads in relavent
newspapers, he has compiled a list of
500 Jewish families and singles liv-
ing in Troy, Rochester Hills, Royal
Oak and eastward. This is probably
a reliable number of east side Jews.
It is commonly held that about
40 percent of American Jews inter-
marry. Wengrow estimates that be-
tween 35 and 40 percent of his con-
gregation. consists of "interfaith"
couples, with several additional
non-Jewish spouses having con-
verted to Judaism. Wengrow and
others speak of the "high" intermar-
riage rate on the east side and at
TJC, but no statistics are available
to. confirm whether intermarriage is
more prevalent east of Woodward
than west of Woodward.
"We agreed the night we got
engaged that we would raise the
kids as Jews," says Susan Tauber-
Hyke. Her husband, Meadow Brook
managing director Stuart Hyke is
not Jewish. The family joined TJC
"because of the kids," she says.
Susan moved to Rochester Hills
as a single when she began working
at the Rochester Eccentric. She met
her husband-to-be when she inter-
viewed him for the paper. Now a
free-lance writer while their children
are growing up, Susan -says her hus-
band is "most supportive" in raising
their kids Jewish.
"We light the candles on the
Sabbath, and if I forget, he reminds
me," she says.
She does not believe that their
marriage places them outside the
pale of either Jewish or non-Jewish
society, saying that they would fit in
no matter where they lived. If we
lived in a more Jewish area, I sup-
pose we'd be more involved." Would
a more Jewish environment strain
their marriage? "There's no way of
knowing," she answers.
Although the family's emphasis
is on Judaism, they do not ignore
Christianity. The family, spends
Christmas Eve with Stuart's family,


"People have just come to
realize that we are people.
We're just part of the

"Before the congregation,
the kids thought they were
the only ones who cele-
brated Chanukah."

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