A Taste Of Israel In Downtown Detroit
Chef Cari's kosher falafel booth comes to Campus Martius Park.
Special to the
alafel is a round chickpea patty
fried, seasoned and wrapped
in warm pita bread. Chef Cari's
falafel comes with tahini and a house-
made sauce that adds just the right dose of
spice to the dish. While Detroit might have
Middle Eastern cuisine, in my opinion, it
hasn't seen falafel this good yet.
Downtown Detroit also hasn't seen
many vegan, gluten-free and kosher choic-
es. Chef Cari's "The Spot" is the first new
kosher-certified food business to arrive at
Detroit's Campus Martius Park.
Her Spot can be found among the
brightly colored food vendors in the park.
In the sweltering heat of the summer,
you'll see lines already forming at her
booth that opened July 15. Inside you'll
find her serving falafel and side dishes that
are all gluten-free and made from scratch,
including hand-cut French fries, quinoa
tabouli and falafel varieties.
Chef Cari has been cooking profession-
ally for more than 20 years, running her
full-service catering company in Oak Park
for eight years. She's testing out Downtown
Detroit as a possible location for her new
restaurant. So far the results have been
"We've had Dan Gilbert here. We've
had return visitors every day," Chef Cari
Herskovitz Rosenbloom said. "It's been
really great so far. We've had such an over-
whelmingly amazing welcome from the
community. We really want to stay and be
a part of the new booming Detroit scene:'
Vadim Avashalumov, an urban plan-
ner at Rock Ventures, along with Yisrael
Pinson, a rabbi affiliated with West
Bloomfield-based Friendship Circle who
helped arrange the Menorah in the D,
recruited Chef Cari to Detroit. Pinson is
working to engage and build the Jewish
community in the Motor City. Both want-
ed to bring more diverse food options to
"I picked Chef Cari because of her
extensive experience in food vending
and the fact that her food is really good,"
Avashalumov, who helped Rock Ventures
add amenities and events to the park
including the new food booths, said it's the
first time in 15 years that there's been a cer-
tified kosher restaurant Downtown. (Wayne
State's Gold 'n Greens, another certified
Detroit in 1943, joining their maternal aunt,
Frances Nadell, who raised them. The chil-
synagogue, Congregation Shaarey Zedek.
dren's father, Benjamin, sent support money
Founded in 1893 as Windsor's first syna-
from his job in Montreal.
gogue, Shaarey Zedek's most recent building
"It was unreal," said Weisman of the
closed in 2012.
discovery "My mom had not been back [to
The tourists took many pictures at the
Windsor] in 65 years and had no idea about
Shaar, especially of its well-preserved,
this family legacy"
stained-glass windows depicting Jewish
Rabbi Miriam Jerris, a Huntington Woods
objects and themes. Diane
resident since 1970, remembered
Zogut of Southfield
hanging out with other kids on
said she was glad
the steep, wide steps of the
"Windsor's Jews still
Shaar. Her grandparents
have a beautiful
on both sides settled
and historic place
in Windsor during
the 1920s. Marilyn
One of the
Matthews, her mother,
was born there and her
els held a surprise
father, Hy Muroff, came
for West Bloomfield
from the village David
residents Ruth Hirsch,
Horodok, now in Belarus.
born in Windsor, and her
Growing up, the B'nai B'rith
daughter Debra Weisman.
Youth Organization was "the only
Stained glass at
Hirsch, 89, was startled when
Shaar Hashomayim Jewish youth group in Windsor,"
she noticed they were sitting
Jerris said. She was Judaism chair
near a panel that her parents, Sarah and
for the Great Lakes Council BBYO, includ-
Benjamin Simons, had donated in memory
ing Flint, Grand Rapids, Mount Clemens,
of their 12-year-old son and her brother, Ivan
Tri-City and South Haven in Michigan.
Marriages between Canadians and
The boy died in 1930, and so did mother
Americans sometimes resulted from oppor-
Sarah two years later when Hirsch was
tunities to meet as teens during their AZA
8. She and her younger brother, Morton
and BBG years. (See story on cover.)
Leonard Simons, eventually moved to
"For me, the connections [in Windsor]
Over The River from page 10
August 1 • 2013
kosher restaurant, is located in
"I think from our perspec-
tive, it's important to have
good, quality food that people
love and to have diversity,"
Avashalumov said. "We also
want to support up and com-
ing food entrepreneurs like
The placemaking initia-
tive began back in the fall
when Downtown Detroit
Partnership and Rock
Ventures partnered to trans-
form Campus Martius into a
more enjoyable place to hang
out, hit the beach, and well,
eat falafel. Between the food
vendors, live music and a bar, they've done
a great job and the results have been a
park packed with people.
And the falafel really is that good.
I tried the falafel bowl and the fresh
mint-infused lemonade and can't wait to
go back again soon.
Some even say it's out of this country or
tastes like it.
"It's top-quality falafel, just as good
as when I buy it in Israel," said Ben
are familial, not strictly sociological or his-
toric," said Jerris, touring with her Detroit-
born stepmother Rita Muroff, who is now a
At Congregation Beth El, the rabbi's
cousin, Madie (Madelyn Muroff) and hus-
band Arthur "Art" Weingarden spoke about
organizing the synagogue in their living
room in 1959. Rabbi Jeffrey Ableser leads
the congregation part time.
Desiring a more liberal and egalitarian
place to worship, which the Shaar decidedly
was not, the newlywed Weingardens, Milton
and Betty Kovinsky and other like-minded
couples made plans for a Reform Jewish tem-
ple. Services began in 1960. The handsome,
present-day synagogue features a hanging
"During the summer months, we do a
`service under the stars' at homes of our
congregants," Madie Weingarden said.
Beth El's first spiritual leader was Rabbi
Sherwin T. Wine, assistant rabbi at Temple
Beth El in Detroit. He later started the
Birmingham Temple in Farmington Hills.
Recalling the "brilliant and dynamic
personality" of the late Rabbi Wine,
Weingarden said that for a "young and eager
congregation just learning about Reform
Judaism, he was the perfect match for us —
even when he began working out his new
theory of Humanistic Judaism:'
The buses also stopped at Shaar
Spot in Campus Martius Park, Detroit
Rosenzweig, who works at Howard
Schwartz Commercial Real Estate in
"Our truck always has the longest lines,"
Chef Cari adds, "because people just love
Chef Cari's Spot reopens after her cur-
rent vacation. Check it out in Campus
Martius from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Aug. 5-16.
This story first appeared on the blog, Hell Yeah
Detroit, www.hellyeandetroit.com .
Hashomayim Cemetery, where a headstone
marks the re-interred remains of Windsor's
first Jewish settler, Moses David (1768-
1814). Not until about 1878, however, did
Eastern European immigrants establish "the
first viable Jewish presence in Windsor,"
according to Rabbi Jonathan Plaut's The Jews
of Windsor, 1790 1990 (Dundern Press).
"The day was amazing," Kessler said
later. "I could not believe that we had 150
participants [plus six docents] in Windsor
— learning, enjoying, socializing and con-
"It was nice to learn some Canadian his-
tory and what unites us as Jews on both
sides of the river," Zogut said.
Upcoming Jewish Historical
Society Of Michigan Events
• Sunday, Aug. 18: JCycle III - A
14-mile bicycle tour of Historic
Northwest Detroit. Register online.
• Sunday, Sept. 22: "Settlers to
Citizens: A Bus Tour of Historic
For information or a private
group tour, call (248) 432-5517
from 10 a.m-2 p.m. weekdays or
contact firstname.lastname@example.org .