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July 26, 1996 - Image 3

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1996-07-26

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This Week's Top Stories


Young Israel of Oak Woods
reaches an agreement with DeRor School.


y Aug. 31, the first Or-
thodox synagogue ever
built in the suburbs will
become a Montessori
That is when the DeRor
Montessori School Center, for
six years tenants in the upstairs
of the Young Israel of Oak
Woods building, purchases the
facility for $750,000.
The sale is a major step for
Young Israel of Oak Park, the
former Young Israel of Green-
field congregation that merged
earlier this year with Young Is-
rael of Oak Woods. It is also a
milestone of sorts, marking the
closure of an era and a vibrant
Jewish neighborhood that was
once in south Oak Park.
Synagogue records show that
Young Israel of Oak Park's
board of directors and general
memberships overwhelmingly
approved the sale of the 20,000-
square-foot facility earlier this
What won't show up on any
ledger, however, are the mem-
ories, the simchas and the place
that Oak Woods once held:
thoughts of people filling Allan
and Ridgedale Streets around
the synagogue on the Sabbath,
the overflow seating during the
High Holidays, and the physi-
cal expansion of the synagogue.
Young Israel of Oak Park
will use the sale revenue to be-
gin a massive renovation to its
edifice, sanctuary and social
hall. The synagogue is planning
to build a social hall that will
facilitate between 500-550 peo-
ple. It also plans to increase its
sanctuary seating capacity from
400 to 500. The cost of the ren-
ovations are projected at
around $1.5 million. According
to Young Israel of Oak Park
president Dr. Steven Tennen-
berg, the shul hopes to have
plans finalized by winter, with
groundbreaking set for early
spring of 1997.
"I see what we're doing as
strengthening the hub of the
Orthodox community in Oak
Park," Dr. Tennenberg said.
"We're not as pioneering as the
former Oak Woods members
were. And you have to give
them credit for what they did.


All ab0000ard!
David Goldman steps up to the bus.


To this day, Oak Woods is the
No. 1 Orthodox facility in De-
troit. What is amazing is that
the founders of Oak Woods
were only a mile off in their pro-
j ections of what would be the
center of Orthodox Detroit.
What they did was a remark-
able feat, and we would like
nothing more than to scoop up
that building and bring it to our
Indeed, Phillip Applebaum,
a former Oak Woods president,
past president of the Jewish
Historical Society of Michigan
and author of many articles on
Michigan Jewish history, wrote
in the Oak Woods silver an-
niversary ad journal, October
1980, "Young Israel of Oak
Woods stands today as a sleek
modern synagogue in a tidy
middle-class suburb of Oak
Park. Almost a generation has
passed since the congregation
was organized. Its founders
were, for the most part, ideal-
istic young couples living in a
semi-rural community just be-
ginning to grow itself."
David and Fayga Dombey of
Southfield fit Mr. Applebaum's
description perfectly. When the
couple moved in 1951 onto
Parklawn, just south of 10 Mile,
they lived on a dirt road. They
had left their rented home on
Monterey in Detroit because
their landlord was planning to
increase their rent from $55 a
month to $75; she was chang-
ing from coal to oil heat.
There was no synagogue in
their new neighborhood. Com-
ing to Oak Park was a risk. The
more "pioneering" Jews looked
at Oak Park and Livonia as
places to plant early seeds, ac-
cording to Mrs. Dombey.
The following year, an orga-
nizational meeting attracting
more than 200 convened to dis-
cuss the prospects of a new syn-
agogue. Those in attendance
separated into two camps, Or-
thodox and Conservative. The
Conservative group went on to
establish Congregation Beth
Shalom on Lincoln. The Ortho-
dox went ahead with the found-
ing of the Oak Park Jewish
Center. To attract Huntington


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