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September 13, 2012 - Image 60

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2012-09-13

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

Rosh Hashanah

Creating Comfort

B'nai Israel volunteers modify
church sanctuary to accommodate
their shul's High Holiday services.

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May the coming year be filled with
health and happiness for all our family and friends.
IiShanah Tovah!

Sandy & Bill Lefkofsky
their children & grandchildren

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May the coming year be filled with
health and happiness for all my family and Mends.
I/Shanah Tovah!

LENORE
SALOMON

70 September 13 • 2012

Shell Liebman Dorfman
Contributing Writer

N

ancy Benchell-Eisman has
done a lot of stitching, bast-
ing and hemming; in fact,
she owns three sewing machines. But
creating and overseeing production
of covers for pews in a church where
Jewish High Holiday services will be
held was nowhere on her list of antici-
pated projects.
When the Conservative congrega-
tion at B'nai Israel Synagogue discov-
ered last year's High Holiday services
venue might not be available this
year, it decided on Covenant Baptist
Church.
Members of the 2-year-old B'nai
Israel meet regularly at the Temple
Kol Ami building in West Bloomfield.
On the High Holidays, when Kol Ami
members use the sanctuary, B'nai
Israel's congregation rents space at an
alternate location.
The West Bloomfield-based church
had enough seating and was close by,
but a few modifications were needed.
"There is one fixed cross that will
be covered by a screen:' said Rabbi
Jonathan Berger, rabbi-in-residence
at Hillel Day School of Metropolitan
Detroit, who also serves as B'nai
Israel's rabbi. "And a portable cross
mounted on a wheeled stand will be
removed."
One area not easily altered is a
small cross carved into the ends of
the church pews.
When Benchell-Eisman and her

Cover with B'nai Israel logo on a pew
in the church

husband, Dr. Jeffrey Eisman, saw
them during a B'nai Israel tour of
the church, Nancy had an inspiring
thought to create covers, an offer
spurred by wanting to help the con-
gregation feel comfortable in the
church sanctuary.
"Jeffrey and I felt there had to be
a way to have the sanctuary be 'ours'
by incorporating our B'nai Israel logo
and a Magen David into the design:'
she said. "The religious iconography
needed to be covered in a way that
was respectful to our hosts."

A Few Small Changes
The church was the best fit for con-
gregants' needs, which include a com-
mitment to holding services within
walking distance of members who do
not drive on Shabbat or holidays.
After visiting the building, Berger
determined it a suitable site if the
non-Jewish symbols were removed. "I
wouldn't have been comfortable using

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