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September 23, 1988 - Image 85

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-09-23

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Rabbi Arnold
Sleutelberg divides his
time between two
Michigan congregations
— one near and
one far

HUC President Rabbi Alfred Gott-
schalk told the story of how De Kock
Staff Writer
and van Angelen, both Christians,
risked their lives to save a young
he man put the young
Jewish girl on his bicycle
audience — more than 3,000
and began riding from

stood up and applauded.
her home. It was the
Wachtel, national direc-
middle of the night, 1942.
information for HUC-
Gerald van Angelen, a member of
the occasion as "an ex-
the Dutch Resistance, took the girl to
There was such
the edge of the Rhine River and stop-
for these people,
ped. Then he placed her in a rowboat
did not expect.
and rode with her across the cold,
It was the audience's way of telling
quiet water.
When they reached the other side, van Angelen and De Kock that not
the girl stepped out of the boat and only did they save Mrs. Sleutelberg,
met Krijn De Kock, also a member of they saved Arnold as well?'
Like his mother's life and his own
the Dutch Resistance.
The two went to De Kock's farm ordination, Rabbi Sleutelberg's career
house. De Kock led the girl to the is not exactly ordinary.
Rather than accept a position
attic, her new home. She spent almost
all her time there, except at night with one temple or synagogue after
when she would wander in the he graduated from HUC, he elected to
lead two — the Troy Jewish Congrega-
and Congregation Beth El in
The girl didn't leave the attic for
more than 21/2 years, until the war
The work is new to Rabbi
When the girl met again last May Sleutelberg, but Michigan is not.
His father, Simon, immigrated to
with members of the De Kock and van
United States in 1939. He came
Angelen families, it was under very
to Michigan because a distant
different circumstances.
Now an adult with children of her relative lived here, settled in the
own, Edith Sleutelberg watched as small town of Hudson and opened a
her son, Arnold, was ordained at clothing store.
A mutual acquaintance suggested
Hebrew Union College-Jewish In-
stitute of Religion. Near her sat De Simon correspond with a Jewish girl
Kock's son, Krijn Jr., and his wife, as named Edith living in the
well as van Angelen's widow Dortje Netherlands.
Edith and Simon became good
and her daughter.
During the ordination services, friends through their letters. Finally


Simon went to Holland to meet the as student rabbi with Congregation
young woman. Three weeks later he Beth El in Traverse City.
Then he went to Hebrew Univer-
asked her to marry him and come to
sity in Jerusalem, where he took
Michigan. She agreed.
Although Hudson offered few op- classes in literature and poetry. He re-
portunities for leading an active mains a fan of T. Carmi and S.Y.
Jewish life — when they wanted to at- Agnon.
While in Israel, he planted a tree
tend services, the family went to the
of Krijn de Kock and Gerard
Reform temple in nearby Jackson —
Rabbi Sleutelberg says he grew up van Angelen, the men who saved his
mother's life, along Yad Vashem's
with a strong Jewish identity.
He did not, however, dream of Avenue of the Righteous Gentiles.
Rabbi Sleutelberg also worked in
becoming a rabbi. When he was
young, he hoped to become a lawyer 1984 as chaplain at Philmount Scout
or a businessman. And when he at- Ranch in New Mexico, the national
tended undergraduate school at Al- Boy Scout camp that attracts more
bion College, he majored in economics than 20,000 campers each summer.
Once a Boy Scout himself, Rabbi
and management.
A talk with his sister, Esther, Sleutelberg had seen an ad that the
camp was seeking a chaplain and
changed that.
"I was talking about all the decided to apply. He was accepted
things I love most — teaching, immediatgely.
Judaism, working with people," Rab-
While much of his work at Phil-
bi Sleutelberg said. "And that's when mount consisted of counseling, Rabbi
I decided to become a rabbi. No other Sleutelberg, along with other
profession I could think of combined chaplains at the camp, also planned
all those things!'
several interfaith programs.
Few to whom he announced his
Then they decided to write an all-
intentions were surprised.
faith prayer book for the Boy Scouts.
"People would ask, `So, what are
While the plan was conceived at
your plans?' and I would say, 'You'll the camp, it took several meetings
never guess! And in quite a few cases and much work over the next year to
people said, 'You're going to be a rab- write it. Rabbi Sleutelberg met four
times throughout 1984-1985 with a
After graduating from Albion Col- priest from Long Island and a
lege, Rabbi Sleutelberg was accepted Lutheran minister from New Orleans
to write the prayer book, Eagles Soar-
in 1981 to HUC.
He spent his first year of school in ing High.
Eagles Soaring High includes a
Jerusalem. When he returned to the
United States, he accepted a position middle section appropriate for all



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