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years on the High Holidays," Rabbi
Cohen says. "He was also instrumental
in starting a lot of Sephardic syna-
gogues in the United States and he
was the one who arranged for me to
be in Detroit at Keter Torah."
While many members stayed on dur-
ing years when moves were frequent,
Alspector says some "needed a place to
hold a bar mitzvah or other functions
and they left and joined other shuls."
But membership always remained
large enough to keep the Sephardic
"We kept our membership numbers
up through the years because of the
immigration to this area," says David.
He moved to Detroit from Greece
with his family when he was 5, with
the help of sponsorship by the Detroit
"We always had members from
many places and sometimes you can
hear so many languages at
once in the synagogue,"
Alspector says. "In the 1950s
and '60s, when we realized
we had members from 20
different countries, we
decided to make a map
pointing to where everyone
For the last 10 years or so,
Eli Ras hty
services have been held on
Shabbat, holidays and
Keter Torah's History
Sunday mornings. There were 200
congregants at Keter Torah on the
The synagogue is the culmination of a
dream begun in 1917, with the found- High Holidays this year. Now, with the
new synagogue building, services also
ing of the Sephardic Community of
held on Monday and Thursday
Detroit by Turkish immigrants Judith
and on evenings when Rabbi
and Jacob Chicorel.
Cohen teaches a class. David also con-
Without a permanent building until
structed a Web site for the synagogue.
last summer, members met through
The new building already has been
the years in various homes, office
the site of more than one bar mitzvah.
buildings and schools.
The first, held in October, was that of
"During the times when we had no
Sol Benaderet of West Bloomfield.
permanent rabbi or building, we were
"His family is just one who bought a
not able to supply more than a social
organization and High Holiday services," house to be near the synagogue,"
Rabbi Cohen says.
says David. "We did not have a place to
"In addition to new members, we
go for Shabbat services or to take a class."
also have many who are longtime, sec-
A few years ago, while the congrega-
ond- and third- and fourth-generation
tion met in Southfield, Rabbi Hanoch
members," says Alspector, who, with
Gez, who lived near the facility where
her husband, Stanley, Keter Torah
services were held, became the syna-
treasurer, shared their home phone
line with the synagogue for a time
For a time, Chazzan Sasson Natan
before the new building opened.
led services, before moving to Chicago
French-born member Lucien Darmon
and becoming a rabbi.
of West Bloomfield had, until last fall,
Active members Shalom and Ben-
`been synagogue treasurer for 40 years.
Ezra also led services.
"And we also have new members
"Rabbi (Solomon) Maimon from
joined since we opened our new
Seattle was our guiding light," says
building, and some old members who
Susan Alspector of Farmington Hills,
left and have returned," Alspector says.
Keter Torah's corresponding secretary.
The congregation's oldest member is
"He was here for the community's
simchahs and led services for many
SEPHARDIC PRIDE on page 66
position, balanced in the tik," he says.
Even Sephardi Sifrei Torah from
countries like Greece, which look sim-
ilar to the Ashkenazi Sifrei Torah in
that they are laid flat and are dressed
in typical blue or maroon velvet, may
be bound differently.
"The mantle and cover may look the
same," Belinfante says. "But the open-
ing may be in the front instead of the
back and it has a long strap — 10 feet
long — that is rolled around and
around the Torah. In my Spanish-
Portuguese Synagogue, founded by
Jews who came from Holland, that's
how we do it — and for no reason
other than 350 years of tradition."
Rabbi Cohen says, "A strap often is
used in Spanish-Portuguese synagogues
and may be made of a long piece of silk
and is wrapped around the Torah so
many times that, when it is opened, the
parchment isn't seen, only the silk."
Although the words of the
Torah are the same in both
Ashkenazic and Sephardic syn-
agogues, Rabbi Cohen says
that "the specific shape of
some of the letters is differ-
ent." But he also says anyone
able to read an Ashkenazic
Sefer Torah will be able to read
a Sephardic Torah.
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