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September 18, 1987 - Image 25

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-09-18

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

Bob McKeown

Norman Allan and Irwin Alterman, standing, often join Rabbi Spectre at the morning minyan breakfast.

without any interest. It also shocked
our congregants into action?'
Norman Allan, a founding
member of Adat Shalom, remembers
this period vividly. "When I found out
we had filed for bankruptcy, I couldn't
sleep at night. I knew I had to raise
enough money to pay off the bank and
get our synagogue back. I had been
president twice before, but I begged
the nominating committee to put me
on the slate again as president. I
knew no one else was going to work
on this day and night:'
"I had until Dec. 31 (1973) to raise
the money; the bank was talking
tough. I knew they meant business?'
"Within a month, I had run down
to Florida to talk to other long-time
members and had secured checks for
$375,000. I also borrowed from my
bank to come up with funds. In all, I
was able to raise the necessary
$750,00 to pay off all our past bank
payments and bring our mortgage up
to data"
Alterman praises Allan's single-
minded dedication. "Many people
contributed significantly to saving
our synagogue, but Norman Allan
was the single greatest factor to keep-
ing us from losing our building and
perhaps even ending our congrega-
tion. He worked non-stop for years,
and was far and away our single
largest contributor.
Allan is modest about his effort.
"Sometimes you have to live with
yourself. I had seen Mat Shalom

grow from an empty storefront on
Livernois to the Curtis building, to
the modern structure on 28 acres in
Farmington Hills. I wouldn't have
been able to look at myself in the mir-
ror if I had done any less?"
Allan was instrumental in put-
ting together a creative deal with the

"Sometimes you have to
live with yourself. I have
seen Adat Shalom grow
from an empty storefront
. . . to 28 acres:'
Norman Allan

bank. The synagogue was given six
years of low-interest payments in
trade for a complete mortgage payoff
at the end of the six years.
"We instituted an austerity pro-
gram," says Alterman. "We knew we
had six years to raise the balance of
our mortgage loan. We also had to
work on creating a positive image. It's
like anything else. It's a spiral. If peo-
ple think you're going to make it,
then they'll join and contribute.
Within the six years, the area
around the synagogue grew rapidly.
The on-site synagogue nursery
brought in a new base of young con-
gregants. And Rabbi Spectre, hired in
1978, brought a new stability and
dynamism. Congregants became
optimistic.
On Sept. 14, 1984, Adat Shalom

burned its mortgage. Alan Yost, the
synagogue's executive director,
remembers that moment and the
sense of freedom it offered the con-
gregation. "The biggest nut on our
back was the interest payments on
the mortgage. Once we were free of
the mortgage, we were able to concen-
trate on running a businesslike en-
vironment and using monies for a
dynamic operating budget, including
programming?!
"As soon as we paid off the mor-
tgage," says Alterman, "we turned
our attention to building repairs. We
spent a quarter of a million on a roof
and parking lot repairs?'
"This past August, we entered a
new phase in our synagogue's
history:' continues Alterman. "We
hired our first -assistant rabbi since
the bankruptcy and our attention is
now focused squarely on the needs of
our congregants."
In the past three years, Adat
Shalom has seen a dramatic rise in
new members. But 200 new member
families also offer new challenges.
Executive director Yost attributes
the increase in membership to "our
location and the popularity of our
nursery school and United Hebrew
School programs" offered at Adat
Shalom. He is also concerned with the
challenge of integrating and
educating the large numbers of new
member families. "We are always
looking at new ways to make our con-
gregants feel at home. We are offer-

ing a variety of programs focusing on
the Jewish family. With the renewed
interest in Conservative Judaism, we
hope to offer all our members a
positive synagogue experience?'
Rabbi Spectre sees the outside
issues in Jewish life affecting Adat
Shalom. "There are the problems of
Jewish life in Russia and the threat
to K'lal Yisroel, with the fighting
among ourselves," he says. "There are
the excitements of Jewish life in
Israel and in our own gifted and bless-
ed society.
"We hope that the synagogue can
be a focus for direction, for the best
use of what we are as Jews and what
we can become in this world, using
the best of our God-given resources. To
this end, we are working to make our
congregants knowledgeable Jews, so
they understand our heritage and are
able to apply the richness of our
heritage within their lives in today's
society?'
So is Adat Shalom home free?
Hardly. "We are almost at the top of
the mountain, but we still have a
ways to go;' says Yost. Even with all
the excitement and enthusiasm we
feel being a part of Adat Shalom, we
are still looking for more ways to bet-
ter serve our congregants and con-
tinue to attract their active participa-
tion?'
But for Normal Allan, these days
bring a quiet satisfaction. "My
greatest pleasure is going to shul and
seeing all the children!"



THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS 25

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