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August 08, 2003 - Image 48

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-08-08

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Cover Story-:
Heart Of The

A Place To

Beth Ahm creates a new room
for memories and meditation.




et aside in a prominent corner
of Congregation Beth Ahm in
West Bloomfield is a uniquely
serene space created for the
remembrance and tribute of loved ones.
The Kahan Memorial Room, to be
dedicated following Shabbat services on
Saturday, Aug. 9, is a new site for the
synagogue's memorial plaques and for
meditation by those who come to
"It is a meditative space that is not
only aesthetically pleasing but exudes
spirituality," said Rabbi Charles Popky.
"It is my hope that the entire congre-
gation will view our new memorial-
meditation room as befitting the
yahrtzeit (anniversary of death) plaques
and the memories of those they repre-
sent," said Dina Kawer of Huntington
Kawer, along with Dan Halnon of
the Halnon Group L.L.C. in
Farmington Hills, worked to create the
simple, tranquil room. Hanlon, whose
firm designs commercial and residential
spaces, also worked together with
Kawer in creating the synagogue's
recently renovated Tauber Chapel adja-
cent to the memorial room.
Following that renovation, members
hoped for a special space to hold the
plaques that would not fit in the chapel.
Longtime members David and Terry
Kahan of Bloomfield Hills heard talk of
the proposed room and offered to help.
"David literally stepped in," Rabbi
Popky said. "He has a wonderful heart
and a lovely family who really care
about the shul."

8/ 8


The Kahan's children and their fam-
ilies are all members of the synagogue,
with son Jeff Kahan on the synagogue's
board of trustees.
A Holocaust survivor, David Kahan
said, "I was at shul saying Yizkor
[memorial service] for my family who
perished in Auschwitz when I heard
they were looking for sponsors for the
room," he said. "We donated the room
in their memory."
Dina Kawer's father, synagogue
member Ben Kawer, is also a
Holocaust survivor. 'As the child of a
survivor," she said, "it is integral to my
spirit that we preserve the memories of
all who have passed."

Inside The Room

The 20-by-20-foot memorial room is
entered through an expanded opening
in place of a door, giving the area a feel
of openness.
Kawer designed and executed the
four-foot mosaic medallion that is the
floor's centerpiece.
Based on the story of Jacob's dream
of angels descending and ascending a
ladder from heaven, the mosaic was cre-
ated with an iridized glass ladder as the
focal point and metallic, glass tiles com-
prising the remaining field, representing
the earth in dark blue and the universe
in deep amethyst. A single black river
rock is symbolic of the rock on which
Jacob rested his head and slept.
The Hebrew alphabet is painted
around the circumference. "Each letter
is visible beneath clear glass pieces and
only visible from a certain angle,"
Kawer said.
"Based on one's personal perspective,

the letters shall either remain invisible,
two small, teak benches on either side
appear in an iridescent pearl or appear
of the mosaic and one longer teak
iridized blue. The idea is that done
bench under the windows." The
wishes to meditate on a
memorial plaques are
particular Hebrew letter,
on the walls of
In Beth Ahms Kahan
the appropriate letter will
Memorial Room are
appear to the viewer as is
Doug and Ilene Kahan,
deemed at that time."
Hebrew months. Small
David and Terry Kahan,
The memorial room's
overhead lights will be
Mike Kahan and
stained glass windows
lit each month over
Tammy and Jeff Kahan.
originally hung in the
the corresponding
synagogue's former Beth
Abraham building on Linwood Avenue
"I designed each element of the
in Detroit. In more recent years, they
memorial room and Dan took my
were in the chapel of the current Beth
design of the alcoves and the entrance
Ahm building, before the room was
and, with the help of an amazing
team of carpenters, brought those
"These windows, which were gen-
designs to life," Kawer said.
erously restored by (synagogue mem-
"The room is filled with light, as I
bers) Lillian and Al Bricker, have
wished to create a space that was
found their new home in a place that
uplifting as opposed to being dark
is dedicated to our shul's memories,"
and depressing. This space should be
said Kawer, an artist whose primary
one of serenity and elegance which, to
medium is photography.
me, best expresses the memories of
"Furnishings will be sparse, with
those represented here." ❑

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