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December 08, 2011 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2011-12-08

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Perfect Fit from page 8

sponsored teen missions to Israel.
"We encourage parents not to tell
their kids they can quit after their bar
or bat mitzvahs," Yedwab said.
Yedwab is working, along with his
Temple Israel colleagues, on a database
using iPads to sort and generate infor-
mation based on the teens' individual
Temple Israel hosts its own 30-piece
rock band, Yom Sheini, co-founded
by Yedwab's son, Jesse. Yedwab is
especially proud of the group's help in
creating "Banding Together',' a series
of fundraising concerts that benefits
various local causes.
The first Banding Together, held in
May 2009, raised more than $55,000
for local orphaned Jewish children.
Another program took place in March
2011 to benefit "Summer in the City," a
grassroots organization that uses teen
volunteers to improve Detroit neigh-
"It was amazing — and the kids
were unbelievable, writing their own
musie,'Yedwab said.

Plugging A Gap
The popular Shabbat Unplugged,
which consists of high-energy, music-
driven, soul-filled services led by
Yedwab and other clergy, congregants
and occasional guests, began as an
outreach to younger congregants, but
now draws large and enthusiastic
crowds of all ages.
Yedwab said the Shabbat Unplugged
idea arose when the clergy took a hard
look at the temple's services and found
them wanting. Shabbat Unplugged is
but one significant change to infuse
more energy, spirituality and medita-
"We asked ourselves, 'If we weren't
paid to daven [pray] on Friday night,
would we still be here?' Our answer
was no," Yedwab said. "So we made
some changes. We believe that worship
can, and should, be energizing, uplift-
ing, engaging and fun."
A new CD featuring music and
prayers from Shabbat Unplugged, a
gift to the community from congre-
gants Lisa and Scott Stern, was given
to everyone who attended Yedstock or
the Friday night services honoring the
The CD features a mixture of origi-
nal and traditional songs and litanies,
many of them composed by Yedwab
and Scott Stern, who also sings and
plays on the recording. Yedwab jok-
ingly describes their collaboration as a
"Lennon-McCartney partnership."
"He's such a dynamic individual
and rabbi: Cantor Smolash said about
Yedwab. "Plus, it's nice to work with
someone who's so musical, too:'
Yedwab's interest in Judaism and in

Jewish youth extends beyond Temple
Israel to a national level. For example,
he serves as co-chair of a Union for
Reform Judaism clergy/lay task force
dedicated to the revitalization of the
Reform youth movement, NFTY (North
American Federation of Temple Youth).
He's editor of the Rabbinic Vision
Initiative's newsletter and past presi-
dent of the Michigan Board of Rabbis.
Yedwab's father, who was active in
a number of social and humanitarian
causes, said that he did not assume
his son would become a rabbi, but he
knew that justice would play a part in
whatever career path he chose.
"Paul always believed in justice','
said the senior Yedwab. "Amazingly, he
wanted to bring justice to everything
in his life and the world around him.
I knew that somewhere along the way,
he would end up doing something to
make the world better."

Echoes Of Support
"The beauty of Paul Yedwab is that he
touches people who have nothing to
do with the temple,' said Shari Ferber
Kaufman of Orchard Lake, who attended
Yedstock. "His boundaries reach beyond
Temple Israel to the entire community"
Temple Israel President Stan
Finsilver agrees. "We get more new
members because of what our clergy
does for them when they're not mem-
bers',' he said, adding that Yedwab
brings caring and depth to everything
he does. "When people say Temple
Israel is like a camp, that's him:'
"Paul has a great feel for creating a
high quality of Jewish life; he thinks
big and is a game changer:' said Scott
Kaufman, CEO of the Jewish Federation
of Metropolitan Detroit. "He is a pas-
sionate supporter of our community,
the State of Israel and the Jewish peo-
ple; we are blessed to have him."
Larry Brown of West Bloomfield,
a Temple Israel member since 1953,
remembers when Yedwab walked
through the doors for the first time.
"As a rabbi and as a person, he's
phenomenal:' Brown said. "He's with
you through the good times and the
bad. What you see is what you get."
Serving as a rabbi at a large congrega-
tion in the Midwest was not part of his
original game plan, but Yedwab is happy
about the choice he made 25 years ago.
"No matter what people say about
Detroit, this is the only city I could see
myself spending a lifetime in," he said.
"The Jewish community here is so
strong and cohesive." f 1

Related story on Yedstock: page 12.

Copies of the Shabbat Unplugged CD are

available at no charge through the Temple

Israel office. Call (248) 661-5700.

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