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April 25, 2013 - Image 22

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2013-04-25

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Caring Visionary

Beth El to celebrate Rabbi Syme's
40th anniversary as a rabbi.

Harry Kirsbaum
Contributing Editor


he fact that Rabbi Daniel
Syme of Temple Beth El is
here to celebrate the 40th
anniversary of his rabbinical ordina-
tion is in itself miraculous.
As a college junior, he was diag-
nosed with a cancerous tumor that, at
the time, had a survival rate of just 2
After removing the tumor and eight
hours of exploratory surgery, the doc-
tor found it hadn't spread.
He told Syme: "In my opinion, this
was a miracle. You were saved for
a reason and you should become a
Rabbi Syme said, "And that was the
point that I decided. I went to Hebrew
Union College for their summer pro-
gram. I loved it and I became a rabbi
and never looked back"
Temple Beth El will celebrate his 40
years as a rabbi May 4-5 with a special
Shabbat service and a party.
Syme started his rabbinical career
in New York as the director of NIFTY,
the youth organization of the Union of
American Hebrew Congregations. In
1996, after 24 years, he left his position
as senior president.
"I was all set to go to California,
keeping a promise to myself that I
made when I was young to live in a
warm climate he said.
His father, the late Rabbi M. Robert
Syme, who was then rabbi at Temple
Israel, called him to request that he
move back home first for a couple of
years to be with his parents because
they were aging.
"I learned that Temple Beth El was
also very anxious to talk to me he
said. "So I came to Beth El for two
years, and here I am:'
It was his wife, Jill, who caused him
to stay.
"She had been my childhood sweet-
heart:' he said. "We had met at camp
at 16; we met again after 36 years —
her family was here, my family was
here and we stayed:'
They were married in 1998.
"Danny is a brilliant visionary — he
doesn't just imagine; he makes things
happen:' Jill said. "His sensitivity is
one of his greatest gifts. He genuinely
cares about people and has made a
difference in so many lives, quite often
quietly and without fanfare:'

Wayne State University's Dean of Students Office, the Cohn Haddow
Center for Judaic Studies, Hillel of Metro Detroit and the
Jewish Community Relations Council are honored to present


6 p.m. Wednesday, May 8
Wayne State University General Lectures Building
5045 Anthony Wayne Drive

On the 70th anniversary of this historic event, this special evening of
reflection honors the courage and faith of the men and women who
stood against their oppressors through a series of memories, tributes,
music and poetry. Special guests include:

• Maya Karmely, Acting Deputy Consul General representing the
Consulate General of Israel to the Midwest
• The Honorable Paulina Kapuscinska, Consul General of the
Republic of Poland
• Mag. Thomas Schnoell, Austrian Consul General
• David Weinberg, Director, Cohn Haddow Center for Judaic
Studies and WSU Professor of History
• Howard Lupovitch, Incoming Director, Cohn Haddow Center for
Judaic Studies
• Stephen Goldman, Executive Director, Holocaust Memorial Center
• Anca Vlasopolos, WSU Professor of English and 2012 Murray
Jackson Creative Scholar in the Arts
• Margaret Winters, WSU Interim Provost and Senior Vice
President for Academic Affairs

Dessert reception to follow.

Free transportation will be available from the West Bloomfield Jewish
Community Center and Holocaust Memorial Center at 4:45 p.m. and
the Oak Park Jewish Community Center at 5 p.m.

Free parking is available in Parking Structure 2, located on the
John C. Lodge Service Drive (entrance is north of Warren Avenue).

RSVP at doso.wayne.edu or call 313-577-1010 and indicate any
special needs accommodations and bus reservations.



April 25 • 2013


Rabbi Daniel Syme

Real Rabbi'

Syme said his early career was com-
pletely different.
"Being with a Jewish organization is a
program-intensive job:' he said. "Along
the way, I wrote a couple of dozen
books because I was on airplanes a lot
— out of town 120 days a year. A con-
gregation is people-intensive. My father
told me if you're not in a congregation,
you're not really a rabbi.
"You will
know that you're
a real rabbi
when you're in
the same place
for 15 or 20
years, and you
watch kids grow
up and officiate
at their bar or
A young Daniel
bat mitzvah and
their weddings
and at their
While at Beth El in Bloomfield
Township, the rabbi has created pro-
grams for suicide prevention, to feed
the hungry, provide furniture for
those coming out of homelessness,
and to create bonds with the African-
American and Christian communi-
ties, including a Gospel Seder with
the Greater New Mount Moriah
Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit.
"They bring the choir, and all the
music in the seder is gospel music:'
he said. "Pastor Kenneth Flowers and
I tell the story of the Exodus as it
moves us:'
Two years ago, Syme was inducted

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