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February 26, 1988 - Image 26

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-02-26

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

I CLOSE-UP

Fire destroyed
Beth Abraham
Hillel Moses five
years ago, but
strengthened a
growing
congregation

AFTER THE FLAMES

KIMBERLY LIFTON

Staff Writer

A

church and a makeshift
bimah made for an unusu-
al bar mitzvah service for
David Newman five years
ago.
But it was the kind of excitement
that Newman, now 18, would like to
forget. A fire in January 1983 ravag-
ed the sanctuary, social hall and lob-
bies of Cong. Beth Abraham Hillel
Moses of West Bloomfield, forcing the
Bloomfield Hills youngster to
celebrate his bar mitzvah at the near-
by First Church of Christ, Scientist.
"What I remember most about my
bar mitzvah is where it was — in a
church. I will never forget it,"
Newman said. "When I first heard
about the fire, my mind went blank.
I had studied so hard and didn't want
to postpone it and learn a new Haf-
torah?'

_ 26 FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 1988

Though it was not his familiar
synagogue, Newman said he is
thankful to the church for offering the
site that helped make his special day
as traditional as possible.
"We were bombarded by the
media and I didn't like that,"
Newman recalled. "But you can't
have everything. At least I had my bar
mitzvah?'
Like the other congregants,
Newman remembers well the after-
math of the fire. The synagogue never
stopped functioning, but business was
not back to normal for almost a year
after the tragedy.
Membership remained stable
with about 500 families at the time,
but Hebrew school enrollment plum-
meted from 200 to 130 students.
rIbday the congregation has grown
to 600 families — about 1,500 in-
dividuals. And Hebrew school enroll-
ment is swinging upward with 170
youngsters.

The rebuilt Cong. Beth Abraham Hillel Moses.

Synagogue officials say the mood
at the congregation on Maple Road
near Inkster was never somber. Beth
Abraham Hillel Moses has a history

dating back to 1892, and its members
refused to let any tragedy stop pro-
gress at the growing Conservative
congregation.

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