Farewell, Dear Rabbi
Irwin Groner's life and legacy remembered at Shaarey Zedek.
Keri Guten Cohen
Senior Copy Editor
Story Development Editor
"How honored and blessed I
was to be the wife of Rabbi
Irwin Groner. If I could have
had him a bit longer, that
would have been good, too."
— Leypsa Groner, shown here
with the rabbi in a photo from the
Shaarey Zedek anniversary book, 1981.
was a warm,
and a great sermonizer. He was
one of the great leaders of the
a great friend of
left us. He served
We can all serve his
memory by living
up to the values he represented and
espoused all his life."
"Rabbi Groner was the best teacher
my late husband, David, ever had. He
never disappointed; he'd always say
what you wished you could say.
"We were very close friends. David
and I were always there for the Rabbi
and Leypsa, and vice-versa."
"Rabbi Groner inspired generations to continue our
Jewish heritage through commitment to Judaism as
well as involvement in Jewish communal life.
"His influence will continue to be felt for generations
to come. Most particularly for JTS we are indebted
to Rabbi Groner's counsel, which encouraged the late
William Davidson to found the William Davidson
Graduate School of Jewish Education.
"Future generations will take note that Rabbi
Groner, along with other Detroiters of his generation,
helped build a solid base for a flourishing of Jewish
life throughout the world."
Rabbi Groner, the teacher of tradition
abbi Irwin Groner was memorial-
ized by colleagues, congregants
and family at the shul where, as its
rabbi for life, he was a giant of a presence
for more than a half-century.
The main sanctuary at Congregation
Shaarey Zedek in Southfield was full on a
New Year's Day afternoon to pay homage
to the rabbi who had led his flock through
triumph and tragedy.
Joining the Shaarey Zedek rabbinate in
1959, Rabbi Groner became head rabbi
in 1967, one year after the murder on the
bimah of Rabbi Morris Adler, and presided
over thousands of Shabbats, holidays, b'nai
mitzvot, weddings and funerals. His impact
on the synagogue was as great as the sweep-
ing peak of its rafters.
Rabbi Groner was
eulogized by Shaarey
Zedek Rabbi Joseph H.
Krakoff and others, and
Cantor Meir Finkelstein
sang "Shalom Ray" in the
described Rabbi Groner
as "a truly great rabbi and
a beloved teacher who
possessed a keen sense
of integrity, dignity and
mentchlekeit — always
living and modeling the
very same words that he
preached from this very
bimah week in and week
"We marveled at how
his words were always measured, well-cho-
sen and insightful, and invariably somehow
they would help us navigate the exact issues,
concerns and challenges we were facing at
that very moment.
"And we appreciated that he innately
understood the depth of the human condi-
tion — our strengths and our weaknesses,
our limitations and our temptations:"
Shaarey Zedek President Steve Margolin
"Rabbi Groner's ser-
mons were magical,"
Margolin said. "They had
a rhythm, a special
cadence. They touched
our neshomahs [souls]
and our deepest emo-
tions. He could make us
cry and, moments later,
he could make us laugh.
"He spoke of the
human condition, on issues that impacted
and affected our lives. He could take the
most complicated topic or philosophical
quandary and make it understandable. No
matter the topic, we always were enriched.
"He was our rabbi, our friend, our spiri-
tual leader, our teacher, our adviser, our
psychiatrist, all wrapped into one," said
Margolin. "He cared about us, he nurtured
us, he loved us.
"Today reminds me of his sermons. We
cry as we mourn the loss of our rabbi and
our friend. But we also smile as we remem-
ber his legacy, his deeds and that twinkle in
his eyes that reminded us that better days
Farewell, Dear Rabbi on page 16
14 January 10 • 2013