Breaking Br ea d
Temple Ship Shalom
and a Pontiac church
open homes and hearts.
Special to the Jewish News
he sharing of food has always been a part of
Jewish tradition; the festive meal during the
Passover Seder, the celebratory foods served
after a circumcision ceremony or a baby
naming, the fast-breaking dinner at the conclusion of
When members of Temple Shir Shalom in West
Bloomfield and the Trinity Missionary Baptist Church
in Pontiac decided to take their ongoing relationship
to a new level, breaking bread together seemed like the
natural thing to do.
For the past several years, Shir Shalom and Trinity
Baptist congregants have been involved in a program
started by their leaders, Rabbi Dannel Schwartz and
the Rev. Robert Bailey.
The relationship began when Trinity Baptist mem-
bers were invited to a Shabbat service at Shir Shalom
during the High Holiday season. Rev. Bailey and the
church choir participated in the service alongside the
The following spring, the synagogue brought its
clergy and choir to the church. These reciprocal visits
were so well received by members of both congrega-
tions that they became a yearly tradition.
After the tragedy of Sept. 11 last year, the groups
decided to take their relationship a step further.
"We all became more bound together," said Bunni
Lieberman, past president of Shir Shalom.
Lieberman and Frank Preston, a member of the
board of deacons at Trinity Baptist, planned an
evening last November where three synagogue families
hosted dinners in their homes for about 60 church
members, followed by a jazz concert and service at the
"I wanted to step out of the box," said Preston, who
lives in Troy with his wife, Theresa. "I felt if we're
going to do this, let's really become friends."
The youth groups from both Shir Shalom and
Trinity Baptist have also formed their own traditions
by participating in an annual "Sock and Blanket" drive
for the past several winters. Students from both
groups collect warm socks and blankets, and deliv-
er them jointly to needy families in the Pontiac
This spring, high school students from both
congregations will travel together to explore :
Michigan's historical Underground Railroad land-
marks, which date back to the Civil War.
"We felt the Passover season was an ideal time to
emphasize the theme of freedom, both for Jews and
African-Americans," said Rabbi Michael
Moskowitz of Shir Shalom, "and this is a beautiful
opportunity for the young people to strengthen
their relationships. It's very exciting."
Earlier this month, Bunni and her husband,
Alan, held a Shabbat dinner for the Prestons and
several Shir Shalom families in their West
Bloomfield home. After dinner, all of the guests
attended Friday night services at the synagogue.
"Being together in our home made it very inti-
mate," said Bunni Lieberman. "It was about us, not
about the temple or the church. We want to do
more of this."
"We're planning to have the Liebermans and
other members of the synagogue to our home," he
said. "This is the level where we can really change
other people's thinking, by becoming a living,
example instead of just talking about brotherhood
"You find out that your differences are really
your similarities," said Bunni Lieberman. "It was a
great night." ❑
Clockwise from top left:
Susan Lindow of Farmington Hills serves salads to Frank
Preston of Troy and Joanne Bas of West Bloomfield.
Enjoying dinner and each other's company are
members of Temple Shir Shalom and Trinity
Missionary Baptist Church.
Hostess Bunni Lieberman prepares salads in the kitchen.