Post Number: 99
|Posted on Thursday, May 12, 2005 - 3:48 pm |
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Ahavas Achim was organized as an Orthodox congregation in 1916 with a new brick building at 9244 Delmar Avenue in the Oakland-Westminster neighborhood of the Eastside. The bldg. was remodeled in 1918. The congregation still existed until 1940.
Across the street is the United Hebrew Schools building.
Ahavas Achim moved to Schaefer Road, north of 7 Mile Rd. Both of the buildings were later converted to churches. The congregation then joined up with the conservative movement with Beth Aaron and became Beth Achim in Southfield, Michigan. Later, these families have merged into Adat Shalom, in Farmington Hills, Michigan. The name "Beth Achim" is the name of the congregation's religious school.
The above info. was gleaned from Gerald S. Cook publishing in MICHIGAN JEWISH HISTORY (Vol. 41, Fall, 2001)
I remember when I was a kid we'd go to Avas Achim for the high holidays. During Purim we'd parade around the synagogue and we always had party celebrations there which actually were alot of fun. We looked forward to them. Services were never really boring there. It was a nice neighborhood synagogue. We'd always run into many of our neighbors there. We didn't belong to the schul but we did go there for all the high holidays. We lived on Lesure and second house south of Chippewa, across from Vernor school, a few blocks south of Eight Mile Road and a few blocks west of Schaffer. Vernor was between Tracy, Chippewa, Lesure and Pembrook. Not far from Lupi's Drug store up on Schaffer. I went to school at Vernor from 1960-1965 then we moved to Southfield. Vernor School was either owned or built by the Vernor's Soda Company. Every holiday we'd get free Vernor's pop. I remember going down to the Vernor's factory on field trips. Vernor's was a elementary and Junior High School through I think seventh grade at least, I can't remember exactly. We moved when I was in the fifth grade. I missed that neighborhood alot. There was always somewhere to go hang out, either up on Eight Mile road. We'd go to the Kolowoski shop & buy Coke Cola in the little bottles. Then we'd go around the corner to Lupi's to buy comic books for 12 cents and Beatle cards in the gum packages for a nickle. They had penny candy. Every Saturday we'd ride our bikes down to Seven Mile and go to the Pet shop and bakery. In either direction we'd gather up about two dozen kids out riding their bikes to follow us.
I used to go to Sunday school at Avas Achim, and afterwords, my mom and dad would pick me up from there and we'd walk over to the butcher on Seven mile road and fish market for smoked white fish and the bagel shop. Then we'd go home for a nice Sunday brunch. Then they finally switched Sunday school classes from schul to Vernor school and we'd meet in the auditorim. I think that was for the non members of the schul.
I don't remember which rabbi was there at the time, but I do remember the festive events and the parties we'd have in the hall there. Lots of children were quite regular up there. The neighborhood didn't seem to have alot of residents that weren't Jewish, but even the few neighborhood friends I had that were not Jewish seem to come up to the synagogue for our parties and holidays. They welcomed everyone. I remember going to Bar Mitzvah's and weddings there. I was little at the time, but the schul seemed really big to me. I drove by it about 25 years ago and it really is quite small. The whole neighborhood was quite pleasant and safe feeling. You just felt like you belonged. I never felt that kind of feeling once we moved away from there. I'll always think of that neighborhood as MY neighborhood.
On Saturdays and Sundays, up on Eight Mile Road, in the median, Black men would line up and wait there for someone to come by, pick them up and take them to their houses to hire them to do yard work. Sometimes my dad would go up there and pick up two or three of them and bring them home to help him build our garage or work in the flower garden on trimming the tree branches. Then we'd all sit together in the yard at our picnic table and have a big lunch together. My mom would always make really good lunches when we had company and we always had watermelon & fresh fruit. She'd let me go out and catch the Good Humor man when he drove by and buy everyone ice cream. My Dad used to tell me that Jews and Blacks were the same. "We both have been slaves. We understand each other and know what it was like to suffer." Then at the end of the afternoon, my Dad would ask them if they wanted him to drive them home. Sometimes they would let him, sometimes they wanted to go back to Eight Mile Road. To catch the bus, I guess, but my Dad would always let me be the one to pay them the money for helping us out. I liked to do that, because I was one of those kids that who hang out all day in the yard with them, trying to help, but I'm sure I was just in their way. But to me it was like having special company for the afternoon and I liked to see them smile when they'd get paid. And I liked listening to them tell stories about all kinds of different things they'd talk about. They'd talk about their families and about how hard it was to get regular jobs, but they always seem to be really serious workers. Some of them would sing while they worked and I loved to listen to that. These men were always really nice to our whole family. Sometimes my Dad would just be driving by on a Saturday and see one of the men that we had had over to work and even if he didn't need any help that day, he'd sometimes bring them home with him for a few hours anyway, they'd find something to do even if it was just working on his radio controlled planes and then usually spend the rest of the day talking and eating.
We had a Black maid three days a week. My parents couldn't afford her, but she was around when I was an infant to help my mom out and she sort of stuck. My Dad worked a second job so we could keep her working for us. She was like a mother to me. She worked for us three days a week while my mom did volunteer work. I loved her dearly. She started going to night school to become a nurse. She went to school for eight years at night until finally she graduated and became a nurse. I remember when she graduated because we cried and cried that she wouldn't be coming to our house anymore regularly. She always spent so much time with me, building forts and making cookies and she kept the house so perfect. She did all the things my mom hated to do, ironing, waxing the furniture, but it was a little house and we always had time to swing outside or build a snowman or watch TV with jiffy pop, popcorn. My Dad would come home in time from his job with the IRS to be able to drive Mae to catch the bus in time for her to get to classes, before he'd go to his other job at Northland. She got a good job at New Grace Hospital and she'd call us a couple times a week to talk and she'd come over for holidays once in awhile. She bought herself a nice little house and car shortly after she left us. She was single and didn't have any children of her own at the time and she never did marry or have any children.
As I got older all my cousins & I would meet up at the Royal Theater and spend the whole afternoon at the movies and then we'd walk over to the Dairy Queen. They lived further down closer to THE AVENUE OF FASHION, I think that was Livernois, and Six Mile. They lived in a huge three story house, with a pool and a spiral staircase. We'd meet them at Derby's for dinner often.
Seemed like we were always outside, either at Parks & Recreation in the summer, making projects you could buy for a nickle or a dime, making lanyards or painting casted plaster things. Parks & Rec was held in the portables at Vernor school and they'd host bicycle decorating contests and parades. They'd open up the fire hydrants and close off the street in front of Vernor in the summer. They'd have costume parties and baseball games in the field. Brownie troops used to meet at the school in the art room when we didn't have meetings at someones house. Little league was held in the field every summer. In the fall on Saturday mornings, my Dad and his friends would meet at our house and they'd go across the street to the field at Vernor and fly their radio controlled airplanes that they used to build. All the kids would go over there, dogs from the neighbors would come over with their owners and once inside the fence that surrounded the field they'd let them run off their leaches. Mom's walking babies in buggies, kids skating down the street or riding bicycles with baseball cards stuck in the spokes to make noise. In the winter they'd turn the field into a huge skating rink and kids would skate all the time, it was always ruff ice, but it was right there and easy to access. We had the Awry's bakery man and the Twin Farms man, Good Humor ice cream man and Frosty man that would come through the neighborhood. Home service was an important part of life there. Our bread, milk, chocolate milk, sour cream, cottage cheese, eggs and half and half was always home delivered. Every few days we'd have to put the empty bottles back in the milk shoot to exchange for full ones. When I'd get locked out of the house, I'd crawl in through the milk shoot.
Every now and then we'd have the city come in and spray the trees along the street, they'd warn us to stay inside and park the cars in the driveways. We had air raid sirens that went off from time to time, that was really loud, especially since we lived right across the street. At school they'd have bomb drills where they'd rush all the kids into the basement of the school to bend over and cover our heads in case of bomb attacks. Those basements of those schools had aspestos, but we didn't know any better in those days. As if they were to drop a bomb on us, being in a basement, huddled over would have only helped you kiss your ass good-bye. But each class had their painted animal on the wall to huddle in front of. I guess if anything happened they could idenify which pile of fried bodies was in which class.
It was a nice neighborhood that seem to center around the school and the schul. All the neighbors knew each other even three blocks away. It was a real community feeling. If you were lost and you were all the way west towards Vandenberg school, you could go up to someone's door and tell them you were lost and they'd walk you down to the corner and point you in the right direction home and actually stand there and watch you ride away to make sure you were on your way there. I never felt like I was among strangers, just one big extended family.
I would have gone to Beaubien had we stayed there, then Mumford High School.
That was a great life there in Detroit. Once in the suburbs things were so different, not bad, but totally a different experience. Nothing will match that kind of neighborhood family feeling as that life on Lesure. I'm sure alot of people romanticize their childhood, but I've lived in the same neighborhood for the past 15 years now and I wouldn't know some of my neighbors if I ran into them in the grocery store. We all have acreage here and the amount of land we have out here (25 homes worth or a few hundred acres) in Detroit would have been well over 100 homes. I live on 5 acres here, in Detroit there would have been 20 homes just on the same amount of land. There you could listen to your neighbors talking in their kitchen if you were outside sitting on your porch or trimming your bushes. People really knew each other in Detroit and for everything I can remember, cared about each other. We helped the older neighbors out, shoveling their sidewalks and carrying in their groceries, we watched out for neighborhood kids younger than ourselves, we walked dogs for neighbors that had dogs, we raked leaves together, we bar-b-qued together. Our neighbor, Mrs. Weinberg, was always bringing over pies, and applesauce and jam she's make and she was also the lady who got me interested in the career I ended up going into. She was a grandmother who would invite me in to her house, let me play in her sewing room while she would make me summer dresses and sunsuits. She'd let me pick out fabric from the piles of leftover fabric she'd have piled up in her cupboards. I learned to love fabric and sewing. When I had my own children and was making them all their own clothes, I was picked up by McCall's Pattern Co in New York and I've designed for them for the past 13 years.
I am proud to be from Detroit. It was a wonderful place to be a kid. The Thanksgiving Day Parades, Taking the bus down to Grand Circus Park to shop, Christmas displays at the Hudson's in Downtown Detroit, and the events Hudson's would hold, like when they had the "Fit Into Cinerella's Glass Slipper", Hudson's was lined up around the building with thousands of little girls all dressed up to try to fit into that slipper, going to the taping of Ricky the Clown, (with his Llama) I think that was at WXYZ studios. Going to the Donkey Baseball games across from the Federals store on Woodward. Right across Eight Mile off Schaffer was the Drive In theater, we'd go there alot. Drive Ins were everywhere. Amy Joy Donuts at Eight Mile and Greenfield, A&W's all over, White Castles and Brays. Motown was the shit, made you proud to say, I'm from Motown. As a kid I knew exactly who I was, I was a piece of all these things that I loved so much, from the Bagel shop to the Motown music, from my school to the car industry, I knew what I was made up of and I liked all of it. Being from Detroit seem to have a unique and important identity to it.
(This was all before the riots, urban sprawl, Vietnam was just becoming a issue, I remember slightly the treat from Cuba and I definately remember where I was when Kennedy was shot).
Until I moved away from there, I didn't have any idea that Jews were not well liked by the rest of the Christian community in other suburban areas. Going from a Jewish neighborhood who embraced all other religious so easily, to a neighborhood in Southfield near Farmington, where I was one of three Jews in my school was really tough on me. The first day of fifth grade the kids asked me where my horns were. They said their parents told them that Jew's were kikes and had horns. (Not all of the them but more than a few). I had to go home and ask my parents, "What is a Kike?" The first kids house I went over to play at, her father had a collection of Natzi pharaphailia displayed. I got scared and ran home. I was not happy about being taken away from Detroit. It took me years to admit that I was from Southfield, which turned out to be very Jewish at Ten Mile and Southfield Road, but where I lived at Nine Mile and Beech Daily Road, this was not the case. Things straightened out by time I got to High School, Southfield High School or where it was better known as "Little Israel".
Needless to say, I lived self sufficently for eleven years, heating with wood, canning my food, raising farm animals, married a christian man, married on our farm, shot the pig to put on the spit at 6AM, washed the floor before the rabbi arrived, got married with wet hair from rushing out of the shower, had the family at the farm for the wedding, cold cuts, champagne, then the beer kegs and the blue grass band arrived to play in the barn for the 200 friends we had invited via word of mouth, had out houses brought out to the farm so the septic field wouldn't fall in, our rooster crowed to the band all night and 100 friends camped out in our field after the party. Ah the life of a Jewish girl from Detroit.
Sorry I just rattled off. I haven't thought about those days in a long time and it feels good to remember. Feel free to edit this down to just the synagogue stuff if you'd like.
I was born (1970) and raised in Detroit. I've only known this church as Greater Grace Temple. I've never been a member there, but our high school had an honors ceremony there once. I knew it couldn't have been built as a Christian church because of the 6-point star symbols (don't know the name for them) on the North-West facade.
I used to attend this Schule when I was in grade school. Every holiday my friends and I would walk about a mile up to Avas Achim. Unfortunately, I don't remember what it looked like inside but it was my Schule.
- Rita W
I attended many Bar Mitzvahs between 1954 and 1956 in Avas Achim. I grew up about 4-5 blocks away and several friends had their Bar Mitzvahs there. I can only recall that it was a very comfortable feeling inside.
- Cliff G
I grew up just a few blocks from Avis Achim...and read with interest the unsigned contribution of a young girl growing up across from Vernor School. To be precise, two houses South of Chippewa ( I'm thinking your name must be Susan G.) I think I was in your class at Vernor. You spoke the truth about the neighborhood, it was the greatest place in the world for a youngster to grow up. Oh, you forgot the huge painting of James Vernor hanging at the top of the main staircase.
I was Bar Mitzvah'd here in February, 1959. I lead the entire service that day. What a trip to see it again. I get back to Detroit occasionally but haven't driven by this synagogue in a long, long time. It was a neat place. It was Conservative and once we moved to Huntington Woods and later Southfield we got progressively more Reform. I can still remember spending all day (!) there on Yom Kippur - every service in a row from start to finish. My father said that is what you do - after all, his father was Orthodox and legend had it that at age 70 my grandfather stood all day on crutches to daven so it was the least we could do. I am still a practicing Jew but those childhood marathons beat lots of religion out of me.