Temple Beth Emeth provides a
spiritual home of acceptance
and warmth in Ann Arbor.
Special to the Jewish News
ow celebrating its 36th, or double-chai,
anniversary, Ann Arbor's Temple Beth
Emeth today boasts a congregation of
more than 650 families, a thriving reli-
gious school serving more than 400 children and a
music program with four choirs.
Member Allyn D. Kantor of Ann Arbor remem-
bers how it all began in 1 966 — the days when 25
people would gather for services in someone's base-
ment, sitting on chairs borrowed from a funeral
"We were simply improvising as we went along.
That's what we had to do," he said. "Yes, it was
inconvenient; yes, it wasn't plush, but we wanted
this to work. And we did what it took to make it
Kantor, second president of the. congregation
(succeeding Ronald Tikofsky), recalled when major
issues of concern included searching for a rabbi and
finding space for services and religious school.
"We were concentrating on the basic elements of
survival for a congregation, and developing a phi-
losophy of how we were going to practice Reform
Judaism ... we were concerned about the fundamen-
tal elements of what our congregation stood for,"
"When you think about things now — a beauti-
ful, well-lit sanctuary and inspiring music, an
inspiring rabbi — and you think back to how we
began in this small, dark, albeit finished basement
at someone's home, it's amazing how far we've
come," he said.
From the time Kantor served on the board in
1967 through his presidency, which ended in 1970,
the temple membership went from 25 to 60 fami-
lies. Services were held at what was then a Unitarian
Beth Emeth's needs just kept growing, said tem-
ple administrator Rhonda Simon. In 1970, the con-
gregation found larger quarters renting space at
Saint Claire of Assisi Episcopal Church on Packard
Road. And there they've stayed.