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October 05, 1990 - Image 1

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-10-05

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B'nai Israel of West Bloomfield

Two Synagogues
Planning Merger


Associate Editor


he memberships of
Congregation Shaarey
Zedek and Congrega-
tion B'nai Israel of West
Bloomfield will vote in
separate meetings Nov. 1 on
merging the two syn-
If the proposal passes,
Shaarey Zedek officials plan
to spend $1 million on the
Wnsi Israel facility to con-
struct new classrooms for
Shaarey Zedek's Beth
Hayeled nursery school and
refurbish the sanctuary and
social hall. The nursery
school's West Bloomfield
branch presently meets in a
leased facility on Middlebelt
and Long Lake roads.
Shaarey Zedek President
Irving Laker stressed that
the proposed merger is not a
means of moving the
Southfield synagogue from
its present home. "With
B'nai Israel's 135 families,
Shaarey Zedek will have
2,000 families. Our home in
Southfield sits on 40 acres.
How could we move to B'nai
Israel's 4.5 acre site? "We
want to use the existing
facilities. We better serve
the Jewish community by
not building a new building.
We need to conserve our
money and use it where it
best serves the Jewish com-
munity," such as in Israel
and for Soviet Jewry, Mr.
Laker said. "How many
shovels do you want in the
ground in West Bloomfield?
Who is going to pay for all
that?" The proposed merger
gives Shaarey Zedek a

presence in West Bloomfield
and provides the full ser-
vices of the congregation to
the B'nai Israel members,
Mr. Laker said.
B'nai Israel's rabbi, Sher-
man Kirshner, said he has
been assured by Shaarey
Zedek officials that he will
continue with the synagogue
and services will continue to
be held in the B'nai Israel
building. He has three years
remaining on his contract
with the congregation.
The rabbi said it was in-
evitable "that we would
merge with somebody."
Over the last few years,
B'nai Israel has conducted
merger talks with Con-
gregation B'nai Moshe,
Congregation B'nai David
and other Conservative syn-
agogues. B'nai Moshe and
B'nai David have purchased

sites in West Bloomfield and
B'nai Moshe broke ground
for its new building last
B'nai Israel spent
$125,000 last year to add
eight small classrooms to the
north side of its building,
located on Walnut Lake
Road west of Orchard Lake
Road. The congregation
moved from Pontiac to its
present site 10 years ago.
The synagogue had 67
students enrolled last year
in an afternoon Hebrew
school program affiliated
with the Agency for Jewish
Education's United Hebrew
Schools. Enrollment this
year is 70.
Mr. Laker said member-
ship approval Nov. 1 would
lead to a January merger
and the opening of Beth
Hayeled classes at the B'nai
Israel building next
September. Separate Beth
Hayeled classes, and all
Sunday Hebrew school and
high school classes, will con-
tinue to meet at Shaarey
Zedek's main building on
Bell Road in Southfield.
Shaarey Zedek this year
moved its Hebrew school
classes from Bell Road to
Hillel Day School on Mid-
dlebelt Road in•Farmington
Hills. Mr. Laker said
Shaarey Zedek officials
could look at the B'nai Israel
site in the future as a possi-
ble Hebrew school branch.
But present plans center on
the Beth Hayeled nursery.
"If you're a young mother
with young children, even if
you love Shaarey Zedek,
you're going to go where it's
convenient," Mr. Laker said.
"This will attract many new
members for us." ❑

United Germany
Troubles Jews


Assistant Editor


mid the pomp and cir-
cumstance that sur-
rounds the reunifica-
tion this week of East and
West Germany, amid the
fireworks and the balloons,
the teeming parades and the
speeches promising great
hope for the future, Jews
The reunification — or
unification, as Germany now
calls it — may very well por-
tend peril for the Jews,

Detroit area residents say.
They predict German na-
tionalism, with its frequent
partner, anti-Semitism,
could creep again to the
forefront while fascist
elements in East Germany,
formerly suppressed by the
Communist regime, will
become more vocal as the
door of democracy opens.
They wonder what will hap-
pen if the already fragile
memories of the Holocaust
and a painful past are forgot-
ten in the pursuit of a new,
strong state.

OCTOBER 5, 1990 / 16 TISHREI 5751


It didn't
with the


They fear what this might
mean first for the Jews of
Germany, then the Jews of
Eastern Europe and finally
Jews worldwide as the new,
united Germany grows in
economic stature and power.
Even University of Mich-
igan - Dearborn Professor
Sidney Bolkosky, who is op-
timistic that a unified Ger-
many will mean closer ties
with Israel, expressed con-
cern about how the new
Germany will emerge from
the powerful history of the
Third Reich.
"My major concern is
memory," said Dr. Bolkosky,
who helped prepare a Holo-
caust curriculum for high

school students and is the
author of The Distorted
Image: German-Jewish
Perceptions of Germany and
Germans, 1920-1935. Behind
every analysis and predic-
tion about the new Ger-
many, he said, "there's
always Hitler."
Among those who re-
member the Germany of
Adolph Hitler is Oak Park
resident Eric Greenbaum,
who calls the prospect of ris-
ing nationalism within the
new, unified Germany,
"very dangerous."
Mr. Greenbaum was born
in Aschaffenburg, Germany,

Continued on Page 12

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