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May 17, 1991 - Image 14

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-05-17

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Planning Commission Approves Shir Shalom


Staff Writer


espite concerns over
parking and traffic,
the West Bloomfield
Township Planning Com-
mission voted 5-3 May 14 to
approve Temple Shir
Shalom's request to build a
synagogue on the southeast
corner of Orchard Lake and
Walnut Lake roads.

Commissioners gave their
approval based on Shir
Shalom's agreement to pro-
vide shuttle bus service for
members parking at West
Bloomfield High School and
_ Doherty Elementary School
during High Holy Day ser-
vices as well as police to
direct synagogue traffic.
Temple officials also agreed
to pay for passing and ac-
celeration lanes and "No
Parking" signs along

Pontiac Temple Sells
Building To Local Church


Staff Writer


eaders at Temple Beth
Jacob of Pontiac have
known since December
that the congregation would
have to close its doors.
After all, membership at
Oakland County's oldest
Reform congregation had
steadily declined in recent
years, said Judy Schwartz,
the temple's co-president.
The temple's membership,
which once numbered more
than 200 families during its
68-year history, has shrunk
to 60 families.
As the numbers decreased,
it became progressively
harder to fill the temple's
leadership roles, Mrs.
Schwartz said. And last
year, Rabbi Richard Weiss
announced his retirement
and was named rabbi
Still, Mrs. Schwartz and
her co-president, Barbara
Schrier, could not avoid a
sense of sadness when they
recently signed papers sell-
ing the temple building to
the New Greater Way Mis-
sionary Baptist Church.
"My co-president and I sat
at the closing and our eyes
were getting misty," Mrs.
Schwartz said. "The seller is
supposed to be happy be-
cause they're getting the
money, but we felt nostalgia
and sadness at the closing."
They took comfort in the
knowledge it will continue to
be used as a religious
building, she said. The tem-
ple will hold a final service
June 7 before turning over
the Pontiac building and the
rabbi's parsonage in Bloom-
field Hills to the Baptist
church June 15, Mrs.
Schwartz said.
She would not reveal how
much money the Pontiac-
based church paid for the
building. However, she ex-


FRIDAY, MAY 17, 1991

pects the money from the
sale to be donated to one or
more Jewish charities.
Although the congregation
is disbanding, "we're trying
to stay together as much as
possible," she said. "Some of
our members who have
families at other temples
will go there, but the bulk of
our congregation wants to
stay together."
But Beth Jacob members
have not decided which con-
gregation they will join,
Mrs. Schwartz said.
Temple members are also
in the process of distributing
the congregation's artifacts
and furnishings. The con-
gregation hopes to take two
of its four Torah scrolls, as
well as other mementos col-
lected since the temple was
established in 1923, to its
new home.
"We've had many requests
for our Torahs," she said.
"We're considering each re-
quest. We have already
decided to loan one to the
Hillel at the University of
Michigan. We also had a re-
quest from the synagogue in
Minsk for our Torah covers."
Reform temples in Florida,
Ohio and as far away as
Hong Kong have asked for
the congregation's Torahs,
she said.
Most of the furnishings
will be divided between
Temple Shir Shalom in West
Bloomfield and Temple Shir
Tikvah in Troy, she said.
In the meantime, con-
gregation members are
preparing for the final June
7 service. Former and cur-
rent temple members are in-
vited. The service will
feature three speakers from
different generations talk-
ing about their memories of
Beth Jacob.
"We hope to make it a
celebration," Mrs. Schwartz
said. "We want it to be a
happy occasion." ❑

Walnut Lake Road. Other
conditions include addi-
tional landscaping.
The site plan will now be
sent to the West Bloomfield
Township Board of Trustees
which will make the final
decision. No date has been
"We were pleased," said
David Levine, Shir Shalom
president, who was among
the temple members
celebrating the victory after
the vote was announced.
The approval came after
three months of delays as
neighbors and commis-
sioners expressed concerns
that the congregation will
add traffic to the congested
To help alleviate those
fears, township attorney
Gary Dovre had, at the re-
quest of commissioners,
drafted two motions detail-
ing 19 conditions of ap-
proval. But Norman Hyman,
Shir Shalom's attorney,
argued many of those condi-
tions were too restrictive.
The conditions had included
asking the temple's archi-
tects, Neumann Smith and
Associates, to draw con-
tingency site plans to be
used if traffic and parking
became chronic problems.
"With all due respect to
Mr. Dovre, this is another
example of creative draf-
ting," Mr. Hyman said.
"You are asking the syn-
agogue to now go to the ex-
pense of paying its experts to
draft multiple site plans
which may not be used for a
year or two from now. I must
say I am astounded."
Commissioners agreed

with Mr. Hyman, but were
still skeptical about parking
problems, especially on the
High Holy Days.
Commission chairman
Donald Dresselhouse, who
voted against the proposal,
feared plans to shuttle con-
gregants from the Doherty
Elementary School and West
Bloomfield High School
parking lots would set a poor
precedent. "I'm concerned
we maybe painting
ourselves into a corner,"
said Mr. Dresselhouse, wor-
ried businesses would come
to the township and ask for
off-site parking.
Mr. Hyman countered that
a proposal to add more park-
ing to the temple's 183-space
lot by building an
underground drainage
system would be cost pro-
hibitive and the synagogue
still would not have enough

spaces for the High Holy
Days. "Everyone agrees on
the High Holy Days there
will be a problem. That's a
given," he said.
The township should not
ask synagogues or churches
to build parking lots for
those few popular days, said
commissioner Peter Pek-
kala, who along with com-
missioners John Hartwig,
Fred Rowe, William Dot-
terrer and Anne Jardon,
voted in favor of the pro-
posal. "We don't require
that of anyone else," Mr.
Pekkala said.
But nearby residents re-
main concerned about the
possibility of additional
traffic and were unhappy
with the commissioners'
decision. They vowed to con-
tinue their fight when the
plans go before the township
board. ❑

B'nai Moshe
To Make Decision


Associate Editor


ongreatio'n B'nai
Moshe held an infor-
mational meeting for
its members Thursday eve-
ning, and its board will vote
May 23 on starting construc-
tion on a new synagogue
building in West Bloomfield.
Thursday's meeting was
scheduled to include a
discussion of financing the
new building, a display of
final plans for the building,
and an update on merger

B'nai Moshe President
Sharlene Ungar said the
congregation has had
preliminary talks with
several Detroit area Conser-
vative synagogues, but no
merger is expected. "I
believe we will build this
building ourselves," Mrs.
Ungar said, "but the board
will have the final say next
The congregation has ap-
plied for and expects to
receive a building permit
from West Bloomfield
Township in a few weeks. ❑

Jewish Ensemble Theater
Wins Free Press Awards

The two-year-old Jewish
Ensemble Theatre was recog-
nized at the Detroit Free
Press' annual theatre awards
presentation with seven no-
minations, including Best
Play. JET tied with the Attic
Theatre for the most nomina-
New York actor Sol Frieder
was named Best Supporting
Actor for his role in A Rosen
By Any Other Name by Israel
Horovitz, presented by JET in
December. The play described
a Canadian family's reaction
to anti-Semitism during
World War II as the son
prepared for his bar mitzvah.
Mr. Frieder also stars in
JET's current production,
Cantorial by Ira Levin, a com-
edy about a haunted syna-

gogue-turned-condo and its
yuppie owners. The run of
Cantorial has been extended
through May 26.
Another Free Press award
winner was cited for her work
on several JET productions.
Edith Bookstein, who receiv-
ed a special design award for
her costume work at several
theaters, designed the cos-
tumes for six of JET's seven
productions, including last
season's The Man in the Glass
Booth and this season's Bitter

A Rosen By Any Other
Name received several

nominations, including one
for Tony Dobrowolski, who
played the father, as Best
Supporting Actor. Evelyn Or-
bach, JET's artistic director,

was nominated as Best
JET's first production of the
season, The Merchant by Ar-
nold Wesker, received two
nominations: David Fox as
Best Supporting Actor for his
portrayal of Antonio nd
Nicolas Calanni as Best
Another Best Supporting
Actor nomination went to
Robert Grossman, who played
the rabbi in Bitter Friends, a
drama, loosely based on the
Jonathan Pollard spy case.
The Detroit Free Press
theater awards nominees and
award winners were selected
by Detroit Free Press theater
critic Lawrence DeVine and
Free Press critic Martin F.

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