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December 26, 2003 - Image 55

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-12-26

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Birthday Bash

Beth El's library turns 125 with pomp, ceremony and a little bit of poetry.

Staff Writer


newly crafted poem
marked the 125th
birthday of Temple Beth
El's Prentis Library.
Written by the synagogue's reli-
gious school students in grades 4-6,
with the help of Denise Rodgers,
the Poetry Lady, the poem is in the
form of an acrostic. The first letters
of every couplet spell out the name
Beth El. It begins:

Big sanctuary, like an upside down,
open book.
At High Holy Day services, its packed
in every cranny and nook.
Everyone admires its beautiful style.
You can see it for a mile.

Rodgers, author of A Little Bit of
Nonsense, educated and entertained
Beth El's religious school students on
Dec. 8. In addition to writing poet-
ry, the Huntington Woods resident
brought along costumes and props
for acting out poems, both old and -
Festivities included a specially written Friday
night service; a champagne oneg Shabbat com-
plete with birthday cake; signed letters of con-
gratulations from Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of
the Union of Reform Judaism, the librarian of
Congress and many others; and a historical dis-
play. from Detroit-area _philanthropists Anna S.
and Meyer L. Prentis, for whom the library is
The library has recently been revitalized, said
Evelyn Prince of West Bloomfield, co-chair of
the Temple Beth El library committee.
"For years, the library was run by volunteers,
and it sort of stayed the way it was," Prince said.
"Now we have a wonderful librarian, Eileen
Polk. She had an enormous job. Now the library
is used by so many more people. It's really
become a meeting place."
The 1,700-square-foot library includes 10;000
volumes of English-language Judaica. It also houses
a children's collection and the Leonard N. Simons
Collection of Rare Judaica, with 900 volumes pub-
lished between the 17th and 19th centuries.
A large new-books section has been added;
and Polk is working on automating the library's
check-out procedures and re-Cataloguing its
books, Prince said.
A Mississippi native, Prince will contribute to
the library's activities with a review of the book •



74. 4ES46.00* Top: Three volunteers from the audience assist Poetry Lady
Denise Rodgers: Brandon Rothenberg, 6, of West
Bloomfield; Hart Watnick, 8, of Farmington Hills; and
Gimeron Goodman, 8, ofWest Bloomfield.
Middle: Evelyn Prince, co-chair of Temple Beth El's library
committee, and librarian Eileen Polk behind the check-out
Bottom: Joshua Geer, 7, ofWest Bloomfield acting out one
of Denise Rodgers poems.


Shalom rall• Images of Jewish Lift in the
American South , to take place Sunday,
Feb. 1.
Among the photographs in the book,
which was published in 2002, is one of
her father's store, with Prince in the
background. [11

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