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October 06, 2011 - Image 12

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2011-10-06

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metro >> cover story

Jackie Headapohi
Managing Editor

that his post-ordination job search
involved looking for a shul that wanted
to grow its programming and educa-
tional offerings.
"That's what CSZ wanted to do and
that's what I was inspired by,' Krakoff
says. "I'm truly proud to be rabbi of
this amazing congregation!'
In his Rosh Hashanah sermon,
Krakoff spoke of the difficult financial
parallels generations of CSZ con-
gregants have collectively faced —
from those living through the Great
Depression, when reduced payments
of $74.40 became difficult for many
members to even consider, through
today's lingering Great Recession and
its impact on many families' ability to
afford even the basics.


he year was 1861. President
Abraham Lincoln took the
oath of office, preceding the
first shots fired at Ft. Sumter, S.C., in
America's Civil War. Communications,
too, were undergoing a sea change as
the first telegraph lines linking the East
Coast to the West were supplanting the
Pony Express. Also that year, Congress
unveiled two revolutionary economic
components to government: paper
currency and an income tax. Amidst
all this change, Detroiters also bore wit-
ness to the founding of Congregation
Shaarey Zedek.
"We are as relevant today as a shul
as we were then — if not more so,"
says CSZ Rabbi Joseph Krakoff, who
led the congregation through 150
years of Shaarey Zedek history during
his Rosh Hashanah sermon, kicking
off the shul's yearlong celebration
of planned special events, projects
and services to honor congregation
members. [See sidebar: 'A Year of
Celebrations:' page 14.]
It's an epic tale extending back six
generations. "It's a story of commit-
ment, which begins when our ances-
tors made the decision to follow their
beliefs and their hearts!' Krakoff said.
CSZ's roots go back to when 17 of
the 40-member Beth El Society, the
first Jewish congregation in Michigan,
decided to break away at the conclu-
sion of Simchat Torah services in
1861. Records show the departure
stemmed from objections over the
introduction of women into the choir
and an organ. The departing members
formed the Shaarey Zedek Society and
immediately pledged $1 each to the
fledgling synagogue's treasury. Today,
CSZ has 1,600 member families.
Krakoff, who joined the congrega-
tion after ordination from the Jewish
Theological Seminary in 1998, recalled


Congregation Shaarey Zedek
kicks off a year of celebration
in honor of its 150th anniversary.

Istorical Highlights

O Laura Simons
O organized the
first Sisterhood
r 1906.

O The Smith


First modern
religious school
under direction
of Rabbi Judah
Leib Levin in

Rabbi Levin


• 6


CSZ becomes a

VI founding member of



the United Synagogue
of America.


:X Street Cemetery
established in
1 7 Hamtramck.

Making A Difference
"Despite those many challenges, how-
ever, CSZ has had its great moments:'
Krakoff said.
"During the last 150 years, we've
confronted political struggles, con-
flicts and challenges. Right from the
beginning, our leadership advocated
the moral duty," Krakoff said to con-
gregants."Shaarey Zedek members
helped the fugitive slaves arriving in
Detroit escape to freedom across the
river in Canada. Our synagogue and
its members have risen to the occasion
time and again to help make a pro-
found difference in our community."
During the 1880s, as thousands of
Jewish immigrants fleeing oppres-
sion in Russia and Eastern Europe
arrived in Detroit, several Shaarey
Zedek members organized themselves
in the back of a shoe store to form
the Hebrew Free Loan Association.
Collecting five cents a week from
community members, the association
made its first loan of $5 to a man so
he could buy a pack to peddle.
And when the U.S. entered World
War II in 1941, 379 families at CSZ
sent husbands, fathers and sons to

Rabbi Abraham Hershman,
0 a graduate of the Jewish
Ch Theological Seminary,
is hired and org
1 : Young People's
Society as well
as a synagogue
school and
adult study



50-acre Clover
Hill Cemeter
on Fourteen
Mile Road in
opened as


Morris Adler hired
as assistant rabbi.
(He later becomes
rabbi in 1946 when
e shrn • n etires

Rabbi Adler

he Beth
ayeled (House
of Children),
first nursery
school was

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