From the Archives

Imagine life in Detroit without a synagogue.  The year was 1851, when Sarah and Isaac Cozens opened the doors of their own small home in at St. Antoine and Congress streets downtown to host the city’s first minyan –  marking the very beginnings of an Orthodox Congregation Beth El.  By 1920, Jewish Detroit was well rooted, with three broad categories of Jewish places of worship in the city: the small Orthodox synagogues, the large Conservative Shaarey Zedek and the Reform Congregation Beth El. In 1940, a publication of the Michigan Synagogue Conference listed 53 congregations founded in the Detroit area before 1928, of which about 40 were still active.

They were grand in their day. How many do you remember?

The year was 1903. Temple Beth El on Woodward

Jewish Detroit’s first neighborhoods were concentrated downtown on the lower Eastside. All the synagogues of that era are gone. When the Beth El Society moved, it hired famed Detroit Architect Albert Kahn to design its new 1903 synagogue on Woodward just north of the then booming downtown.

Temple Beth El
From 1903 to 1922 Temple Beth El made its home on Woodward at Eliot. Today it stands as the Bonstelle Theater

The year was 1919. First Hungarian Hebrew Congregation

First Hungarian Hebrew Congregation
First Hungarian Hebrew Congregation, 1919. Predecessor of Congregation B’nai Moshe,Garfield and Beaubien.

 The year was 1922. Congregation Beth David (predecessor for B’nai David)

Congregation Beth David
December 26, 1922: Congregation Beth David (later to become B’nai David) in its early location on Winder Street near St. Antoine, Downtown Detroit

The year was 1956. Inside the Sanctuary, Adat Shalom Synagogue

Interior of Adat Shalom Synagogue, 1956
October 19, 1956. Sanctuary, Adat Shalom Synagogue in its Downtown location on Curtis just west of Livernois near Santa Rosa. Now Baily Cathedral.

The year was 1961.  This was Temple Israel

Temple Israel, 1961
Temple Israel, 1961: on Manderson Road and Merton in Palmer Park, Detroit

 The year was 1962. Congregation Shaarey Zedek  on the move

Congregation Shaarey Zedek, 1962
Congregation Shaarey Zedek, 1962: moving to Southfield from the old Synagogue on Chicago Boulevard Downtown Detroit