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May 19, 1995 - Image 15

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1995-05-19

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Shir Tikvah School
Makes Movable Artifacts


ontinuing its nomadic existence,
Congregation Shir Tikvah has added
several portable elements to its fam-
ily education program.
Already touting an ark on wheels
for its weekly services, the congre-
gation now boasts several movable
artifacts for its school, including a
mezuzah hung with the aid of velcro.
The 12-year-old congregation, with
the help of the Agency for Jewish Ed-
ucation and Jewish Experiences For
Families, formed its own school two
years ago when United Hebrew
Schools closed.
Neither the school nor the con-
gregation has a permanent home. Services
are held in the Northminster Presbyter-
ian Church on Big Beaver Road in
Troy while school takes place in rented
rooms at Roeper Elementary in Bloomfield
While the rental saves money normal-
ly spent on bricks and mortar, it presents
a problem for teachers who cannot set up
permanent displays in the classrooms.
Most materials used in classes are brought
by the teachers, who store the items in
their homes.

Portable items create a
mood for the school.

But while the shlepping of the teaching
materials is considered a "minor inconve-
nience" by director of education Janet
Moses, not having religious articles was
more detrimental to the children.
The need for such items arose when Ms.
Moses planned to use a Jewish Experi-
ences For Families learning game called
the "Great Synagogue Search." The game
features cutouts of items normally found
in synagogues which the participants have
to glue in the proper place.
"To not have the artifacts on site is just
one more opportunity for them to forget,"
she said. "I realized the children wouldn't
know where the artifacts belonged."
The congregation asked members to
make the needed items.
Art Bayer made an electric eternal light
using different lengths of tubing and a
flower pot. The light is transported to the
school each week in a cardboard box
stuffed with a pillow.
Chris Wattenberg created a wooden
mezuzah to hang in the school building.
The school would not allow a nail to hang
unprotected from a wall but was willing
to allow a strip of velcro to be glued to a
door post.

The school
now uses the
portable ark,
mezuzah and
eternal light.

"Because we are guests at the school,
we have to be imaginative in adapting tra-
ditional symbols to create a sacred space,"
Ms. Moses said. "It is the closest we could
get to having a mezuzah affixed all of the
Shir Tikvah students also assembled
and painted a portable ark, complete with
a sliding curtain.
Even the school's library has wheels
attached to the bottom. Although the
congregation has been given some shelf
space at the Presbyterian church, the
school operates its book lending program
from a cart assembled by the students. The
cart is taken from room to room on Sun-

days to allow the children to check out
"They never cease to amaze me," Rabbi
Arnie Sleutelberg said of the congregants'
response. "Their commitment and devo-
tion to the temple is extraordinary."
According to Rabbi Sleutelberg, the con-
gregation has begun to plan for a perma-
nent home. On June 11, members will be
asked to vote on a financial plan to fund
the construction of a temple.
Even when a more permanent home is
available, the portable pieces will be in-
cluded in decoration plans. "These pieces
will always have a place in the congrega-
tion," the rabbi said. I

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