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April 12, 1991 - Image 23

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-04-12

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

Photos by G len n Triest

Ricky D'Loss in Sunday

of other Jewish families
move in and do the same, it
would be another 40 years
until the Downriver Jew-
ish community became
In 1950, Eloise and Sol
Blumberg, with their 4-
year-old daughter, moved
to Wyandotte seeking a
quiet place to raise a fami-
"I felt I could give my
child a sense of values,"
said Mrs. Blumberg, who
didn't like the com-
petitiveness she saw in
other Detroit neighbor-
Yet, she also wanted to
create a Jewish life for her
growing family within the
Downriver community.
She knew it would be
easier to send her children
to Jewish schools in nor-
thwest Detroit just as
previous Downriver families
did, Mrs. Blumberg said.
But she didn't want her
children to be strangers in
• the classroom.


Instead, she picked up a
copy of the local phone
book and name by name,
she searched for Jewish

families. When she found a
name that sounded Jewish,
she called.
"I asked them if they
were Jewish. Some said
yes. Others said, 'My
mother or my father was
Jewish, but I'm not,' " Mrs.
Blumberg said. "We came
up with 40 names."
And so, in 1952, the
Downriver Jewish Com-
munity Center was formed.
"It worked. We started a
Sunday school, had youth
activities, and started rais-
ing money for a syn-
agogue," Mrs. Blumberg
said. "We used to have
rummage sales. That was
our main fund-raiser. We
would contact all these
stores and plead. We raised
quite a bit of money."
For 11 years, under the
lay leadefship of Ralph
Aaronson of Allen Park,
the group held celebra-
tions, classes and Shabbat
services in churches and
community halls. But they
held onto their dream of
building their own syn-
Finally, in 1963, Ben-
jamin Ellias donated land
for a synagogue just west of

downtown Trenton with
the condition that the
building be named Con-
gregation Beth Isaac, after
his father, Isaac Noah
Ellias. The tiny synagogue
was dedicated in
September 1964. Attrac-
ting members from all Jew-
ish backgrounds, the syn-
agogue chose to affiliate
with the Conservative
In March 1967, Stanley
Ellias got a phone call.
Someone had broken into
the synagogue, scrawled
anti-Semitic messages on a
classroom blackboard, and
after piling prayer books
and Torahs on the bimah,
set the pile ablaze. Almost
the entire interior of the
synagogue was gutted. The
arsonist was never caught.
"It was like being jolted,"
said Mr. Ellias, who re-
members rushing out to
the synagogue and finding
Rev. Asa Compton of the
Faith Methodist Church
already beginning the
clean-up process.
A wooden Star of David,
which had hung over the
ark, was found charred, but
intact, on the synagogue

11■■■•■■■•■■••■■ •••fteirs ■


Cleaning up after the
1967 arson.
Below: Lay leader Ralph
Aaronson celebrates
Matt Davis' bar mitzvah.



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