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December 13, 2002 - Image 53

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-12-13

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/01//0113 1/0

Copy Editor/Education Writer

Carved into several rocks in the
Labyrinth are biblical and
talmudic quotations.

As part of his Eagle Scout
community service requirement,
Daniel Falk, 15, of Troy
organized the clearing of the
Land for the labyrinth.

Shir Tikvah seventh graders test
out the labyrinth they built in
the woods next to the synagogue.

t Congregation Shir Tikvah, wor-
ship is not confined to a brick-
and-mortar sanctuary. The Troy
synagogue, which is affiliated with
both the Reform and Jewish Renewal move-
ments, includes an outdoor sanctuary, com-
plete with an ark built into the trunk of a
This fall, Shir Tikvah's seventh-graders
added another element to the synagogue's
religious landscape. With the help of
Southfield-based artist Michael Phillips, a
synagogue member, the young people creat-
ed a stone labyrinth — a path for individual
meditation in the shape of a six-pointed.star.
The labyrinth, which is 54 feet in diame-
consists of 2-foot wide paths divided by
stones. Some of the larger stones are
engraved with biblical and talmudic sayings.
Unlike a traditional maze, this labyrinth is not
designed to confuse or perplex its users, but to
lead to self-knowledge and reflection. Thus, it has
no wrong turns or dead ends.
"The design is made up of.seven concentric
Mogen Davids, representing the seven days of the
week," Phillips said. "So when you reach the cen-
ter, it would be like reaching Shabbat. You rest.
You meditate. The same is true when you exit."
Phillips, who has taught visual arts and drama
in the Detroit Public schools for the past 30 years,
is a mixed-media artist who has exhibited at the
Jewish Community Center's Janice Charach
Epstein Gallery. Along with Shir Tikvah Rabbi
Arnie Sleutelberg and educational director Karen


Knoppow, he developed the labyrinth's design
from independent research, including the book

Walking A Sacred Path: Rediscovering the Labyrinth
as a Spiritual Tool by Dr. Lauren Artress (Putnam;
The project was funded by a DeRoy
Testamentary Foundation grant for arts in Jewish
supplementary schools, as administered by the
Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit's
Alliance for Jewish Education.
Boy Scout Troop 1032 cleared land for the
labyrinth from the woods surrounding the syna-
gogue. The troop meets at First United Methodist
Church in Birmingham. Leading the crew of
about 20 scouts was Shir Tikvah member Daniel
Falk, 15, of Troy. He volunteered for the project to
fulfill the community serviCe .-requiremeni to
become an Eagle Scout.
"You have to do 150 hours, including plan-
ning," said Falk, a freshman at Detroit Country
Day School in Beverly Hills. "I put in at least
The father of fellow Scout Tom Reilly owns a
tree service, Falk said, and he lent the young men
his expertise, along with his chainsaws. The sev-
enth-graders placed_the stones and learned about
the meaning of meditation and quiet reflection.
How will Shir Tikvah's the -stone-studded path
be used?
"A labyrinth is for meditation. It represents a
Jewish journey,"•Knoppow said. ---
It's a natural for the Rosh Hashanah_ ceremony
of tashlich, the ritual casting away of sins, she said.
"As you walk through, you'll think about your
year — what you've done, how you?ve -treated oth-
ers. At:the end-of the labyrinth, we'll have apples
and honey." El

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