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April 24, 2008 - Image 24

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2008-04-24

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Southfield At 50



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L.4; -
Rabbi Groner unveils the plaque at the dedication of the SZ historical Abraham Srere, a 50-year SZ member, digs dirt at groundbreaking for new SZ in Southfield on May
marker in 1987.
28, 1961, as other members watch.

Shaarey Zedek from page A23

the support of Rabbi Groner, female mem-
bers now have b'not mitzvah and aliyot,
are counted in the daily minyan and read
from the Torah.
In the late 1990s, Shaarey Zedek
launched a "youth movement" with a
young clergy team. They now include
Rabbi Joseph Krakoff, 38, and Rabbi Eric
Yanoff, 32, who alternate conducting ser-
vices between the Southfield building and
the B'nai Israel Center in West Bloomfield,
acquired in the early 1990s, and cover-
ing the Applebaum Center for Jewish
Living and the Beth Hayeled Nursery &
The rabbis are joined by internation-
ally known Cantor Meir Finkelstein,
Associate Cantor Leonard Guttman and
Cantor Emeritus Chaim Najman. Executive
Director Janet Pont, a 52-year Shaarey
Zedek employee, was a teacher at the
Detroit Seven Mile Road branch when the
congregation moved to Southfield in 1962
and one of the few employees of that era
still working there.

Staying Current

In the new position of program director,
Tobye Bello and the team are focusing on
"state-of-the-art, 21st century" program-
ming that includes such events as Friday
Night Fever services, sports Shabbats,
Shabbat lounge, bingo, movies, ice cream
Kiddush, trips with the rabbis, Super Bowl
Sunday dinner for the homeless, the annu-
al Purim extravaganza with the Megillah
reading, comedians, clowns and carnival
games, and communicating through an
expanded Shaarey Zedek newsletter, titled
the Recorder, plus such Internet features as
YouTube and FaceBook.


April 24 • 2008

"We now involve members and gen-
erations of all ages in our programming,
striking a strong balance between the two
groups, but we're definitely reaching out to
young families;' said Rabbi Krakoff. "We're
riding and navigating the generational
shift and responding to everyone's needs.
Our programs are relevant, creative, inno-
vative and thoughtful!'
Added Rabbi Yanoff: "Our senior mem-
bers are deeply supportive of our youth
programs. They tell us, 'Thank God you're
taking care of our future generations; we're
happy to see our grandchildren so involved
in the synagogue and the community!"
Thanks to sponsorship by Mandell

Zedek's new director of education and
youth — and a "backup" pulpit rabbi — is
32-year-old Rabbi Aaron Starr, joining the
team from Congregation Shir Tikvah in
A typical young Shaarey Zedek family
that takes advantage of the innovative pro-
grams is composed of Dr. Mark and Halley
Uzansky of Bloomfield Hills, both 39, and
their two children. "There's much friend-
ship and camaraderie among the younger
families who participate in the programs
on a regular basis:' said Uzansky. "Halley
and I attend study programs with Rabbis
Krakoff and Yanoff covering the holidays,
Israel and Jewish literature."

"Shaarey Zedek always has been an important
congregation in the community. The Jewish
people still are in awe of our congregation and
our physical location."
- Leonard Baruch

Berman, Shaarey Zedek now has a full-
time Jewish family educator, Megan
Rappaport, who coordinates both senior
and youth educational programs. "Jewish
people always have accessed Judaism as a
family unit:' said Rabbi Yanoff.

Congregant Impact

Rabbi Krakoff proudly points to a planning
committee of 80 diverse Shaarey Zedek
members who hold meetings from time to
time to give their input on synagogue pro-
grams, "and many of them come up with
strong, individual ideas:' he said.
The rabbis are part of one of the young-
est rabbinate teams in the nation. Shaarey

Shaarey Zedek President David Wallace,
54, of Huntington Woods, a third-genera-
tion member, points out that "we certainly
haven't neglected our senior members
because of our strong accent on youth
programs; it's really inter-generational
programming, covering members in their
60s and 70s.
"By coming to Southfield, Shaarey Zedek
became a catalyst for an influx of many
Jewish families into the city; they moved
into the subdivisions surrounding the syn-
agogue, mainly the areas between 11 Mile
and 12 Mile roads, just west and east of
Lahser Road," Wallace noted. "This allowed
a number of the very religious members to

walk to shul."

Blue Chip Rating

Rabbi Groner also considers Shaarey
Zedek's presence in Southfield to be a
major factor in the development and
success of the city "I watched the city
grow through the years and always was
delighted to represent the synagogue at the
groundbreaking and dedication of many
important buildings, such as the civic cen-
ter and post office
Pont pointed out that several Shaarey
Zedek members have held leadership
positions in the city, serving on various
Southfield commissions and committees.
Wallace rates Shaarey Zedek's financial
condition as "healthy:' mainly due to a
strong endowment program, including
many anonymous donors, and the syna-
gogue's relatively new annual fund-raising
program in the fall, honoring a different
member each year. "We gained $2 million
in the campaign that honored Bill Berman
in 2004 and additional significant amounts
since then," Wallace said. "We're holding
our own with membership (1,673 families
as of last month), considering that many
people have moved further north and our
main location is still in Southfield!'
Shaarey Zedek owns land at 12 Mile
Road and Meadowbrook in Novi, but
Wallace, Pont and others highly doubt the
synagogue will ever leave Southfield and
build there. "Many of the non-Southfield,
younger families still live in suburbs closer
to the Southfield location, which is suf-
ficient for them," Wallace explained. "Novi
seems just too far out and sort of desolate.
"Besides, probably no one would be able
to walk to shul." El

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