The Lost Synagogues of Detroit » BETH SCHMUEL
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Lowell (admin)
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Post Number: 115
Registered: 1-2004
Posted From:
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 12:16 am

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My late father, Ben Blau, was the treasurer of Beth Shmuel (not Schmuel).

I have the trowel he used to lay the cornerstone of the shul. It's inscribed:
"Congregation Beth Shmuel March 21, 1948.

The rabbi was Rabbi Rabinowitz. On Friday nights Rabbi Rabinowitz would walk to shul down the street where I lived. He always wore a black silk robe with a sash and a mink trimmed hat. The Presdient was Irv Rosenberg and the Vice President was Harry Citrin. After the shul was closed (around 1960) the Rabbi Rabinowitz moved to Israel so he could be buried there.

I was bar mitzvahed in that shul in 1957. My older brother was also bar mitzvahed there 6 years earlier.

In those days we called it a "conservative" shul. But, by today's standards it would probably be considered "orthodox." [The men put on tephilin in the morning minyans. The ladies sat behind a curtain (mechitza). The rebbitzen wore a sheitel (wig) and the rabbi was the only cantor. We also had a mikvah in the shul. There was a bimah in front where the Torahs were kept but the rabbi conducted the services from a podium in the middle of the auditorium smack in the middle of the congregation like in the very old-time synagogues similar to what you saw in Jolsen's movie The Jazz Singer.

NOBODY EVER drove to shul on shabbos or any holiday.

I will try to get more information from my older brother. Nice job on the website!

-- Roger Blau

Later Notes and corrections:
1- Beth Shmuel was previously on Blaine Street, near or at 12th Street in Detroit. In 1948, it moved, with more than a little pomp and circumstance. My older brother recalls seeing the men carrying the Torahs, under a moving chupa, in a walking procession from the old location to the Dexter location.

2-I wrote you several weeks ago. One of the things I said was that Beth Shmuel was "conservative". My older brother corrected me. This was definitely an orthodox congregation.
3-In my earlier email I told you I was bar mitzvahed at Beth Shmuel in 1957. Actually it was September 20, 1958. I looked at the inscription in the sidur which was presented to me on that day to confirm the date.]
-- Roger Blau

My father was the Rabbi of this synagogue from its beginning in 1933 until 1967 when he moved to Israel. The synagogue was sold privately and used by Agudath Israel until sold to a church perhaps the one shown in the picture. The synagogue under the the same name exists in Israel in the town of Givataim a suburb of Tel Aviv.

This was my father's shul. What would you like to know about it? I can probably fill you in on a fair amount of information. Contact me at

Philip Rabinowitz

natele (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Tuesday, January 16, 2007 - 4:51 pm

The actual first location of the synagogue was at Taylor and 12th. street above Boxmnan's grocery market. The president was Isadore Rosenberg and he was the only president the Shul ever had during it's existence.He,incidently,was my uncle and one of the founding members along with my parents,Rose and Harry Rubin. I was Bar Mitzvah in the Shul in 1936 and knew the Rabinowitz family very well. They had 3 children,Pinye.Motel and Sara. Unfortunately,Sara has since passed away and I lost contact as to what happened to the 2 boys.Rumor has it that the eldest son went on to become a reform rabbi.
The shul has a cemetery at the Workmans Circle cemetry on 14 mile and Gratiot where my parents,sister, and many members are buried. The cemetery is well maintained.
I was honored to have the Rebetzin attend my dental school graduation in 1947. I would very much like to hear from either of the boys.
Dr. Nathan Rubin

additional information

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larryblau (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Monday, May 18, 2009 - 10:17 pm

My name is Larry Blau. I am the eldest son of ben Blau who was the treasurer of Beth Shmuel synagogue, on Dexter.

I clearly remember Rebitzen and Rabbi Rabinowitz as well as their children Sara and Pinyah. I'm sorry to say that i don't have a clear recollection of motel.

I was bar mitzvah at Beth Shmuel 56 years ago, and the experience is as clear to me now as if it were just last week.

My memories of Beth Shmuel go much farther back than the actual time of my bar mitzvah.

I have often told the story of when while walking on Glendale coming home from shul. (We lived at 3280, and the rabbi and his family lived 3 houses to the east of us) and Sara was holding my hand. It was evening time.
Sara asked me, "How old are you"?
I replied that I was "8 years old."
Sara then made the comment, "Wow, then it's only 5 years until your bar mitzvah."
It was her quantification of the time remaining until the 'event' that made it 'real' for me.
I've never forgotten her words, or that moment.

I remember the rabbi and rebitzen staying in our home for a period of time. I believe it was immediately prior to their occupying their Glendale house.

I recall going, with my dad, to 'the shul' when it was still not yet complete.
The carpenters were finishing the crafting and installation of the wooden railings around the bimah and the lectern areas.
The wood was bare, and was so smooth to my touch. It felt silken as i stroked the unfinished woodwork.

I have so many more fond recollections of my times spent at Beth Shmuel.

My experiences at Beth Shmuel have afforded me a treasure house of memories.

Larry Blau

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