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November 11, 1994 - Image 14

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1994-11-11

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Rabbinic students
Stacie Fine and
Tamara Feldstein
study under Rabbi


The Ben and Lorraine Pivnick
Center for Humanistic Judaism
marks a first-ever.


irst-grade students at the Birm-
ingham Temple are excited about
the Ben and Lorraine Pivnick
Center, dedicated Oct. 29 as the
first rabbinic seminary in Michi-
gan and the first-ever rabbinic
seminary for Humanistic Ju-
For youngsters like Jonathon
Mellow, the center is a place to
call home on Sunday mornings
— an improvement over rented
space in local buildings where re-
ligious school classes were held
in years past. For other temple
members, the center portends a
strong future for Humanistic Ju-

"The impact on the Birming-
ham Temple is immense, but I
think the impact on the move-
ment also is going to be tremen-
dous," says Stacie Fine, rabbinic
student and education director.
The Ben and Lorraine Pivnick
Center for Humanistic Judaism
has become the central address
for a movement that began with
Rabbi Sherwin Wine 30 years ago
in Detroit and has since prolifer-
ated to communities in 11 coun-
tries throughout the world,
including Russia, Israel, Italy,
Uruguay and England.
The Pivnick Center is a 6,200-
square-foot addition to the 22-

year-old tem-
ple on 12 Mile
Road in Farm-
ington Hills It
is named for
longtime sup-
porters of Hu-
Judaism, Ben
and Lorraine
Pivnick (Mrs.
Pivnick is
Rabbi Sher-
win Wine's
"We have a home. We're here,"
Mrs. Pivnick says. "It's been
something we've wanted for a
long time."
Inside the center, the second-
grade classroom already bears ev-
idence of student enthusiasm.
Colored pictures of Israel bedeck
the bulletin board, along with
class rules: Be polite, respectful,
follow directions, try your best.
Outside, extending into the back
yard, is the Doralee and Irving
Goldman Garden and Patio. The
brick stage surrounded by flow-
ers and shrubs will be the site of
summer weddings, temple mem-
bers say.
The center, which was de-
signed by Iry Tobocman and built
by Sachse Construction, cost
$500,000. It was completed in 76
working days.
As headquarters for the Inter-
national Institute for Secular Hu-
manistic Judaism, the center
provides a physical location for
the movement's rabbinic semi-
nary and leadership training pro-
Three years ago, when Ms.
Fine initially considered joining
the rabbinic program, her first re-
sponse was, "You don't have a

building for your rabbinical
Now, as one of four students
completing their rabbinic train-
ing, Ms. Fine says the center af-
fords the seminar _ y a status unto
"It gives us a different sense,"
she says. "We are actually a
school, a separate institution."
In addition to housing the
Birmingham Temple's . educa-
tional programs — Sunday
school, Hebrew school, adult
classes, bar/bat mitzvah and con-
firmation classes — the center
will include the Ron and Esther
Milan Library and offices of the
Society for Humanistic Judaism,
a federation of 21 Humanistic
Jewish communities in the Unit-
ed States and Canada.
"I think having a significant
presence clearly legitimizes an
(institution)," says Miriam Jer-
ris, executive director of the So-
Ms. Jerris and Ms. Fine believe
the Pivnick Center will enable
people to recognize different
facets of Humanistic Judaism —
extending beyond the Birming-
ham Temple to include the na-
tional and international branches
of the movement.
Ms. Fine is particularly happy
to see temple members, with and
without children in Sunday
School, mingling in the center
during school hours just to see the
youngsters dart from class to
"It's really funny. Even people
without children come and they
watch the kids whiz through the
halls," she says. "It's good for the
congregation because people see
that there's a future for the move-
ment." ❑

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