The Lost Synagogues of Detroit » DOWNTOWN SYNAGOGUE
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Lowell (admin)
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Post Number: 125
Registered: 1-2004
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Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 12:35 am

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The official name is called Issac Agree Downtown Synagogue. A Sabbath Service is held here every Sat. at 8:30 am. It functions as a local businessman's synagogue as well as one for tourists downtown. If a person was staying at a downtown hotel, it would be possible to walk to synagogue and take in a ballgame or other downtown activities, remaining "Shomer Shabbos" and not driving or riding a bus.
- Arnie P

My father Harry N. used to go to the Downtown Synagogue occasionally to observe yahrzeit for his father Samuel. One evening, walking up the stairs to the maariv service, my father heard an unusually beautiful voice coming from the sanctuary. When he entered the room, he saw Metropolitan Opera star Jan Peerce chanting from the Torah. Mr. Peerce was in Detroit with his Opera company, and he too was observing yahrzeit. It was an enchanting experience for my father, one which he shared with many people.

Our family went to the Downtown Synagogue (a kind of jazzy name for a synagogue) on the High Holidays. I remember a Rosh Hashanah in the mid-60s when we all emerged from synagogue ready for a break, but filled with fellow feeling by this brought-together-for-one-day community. The synagogue was free of cost and the people who came were an interesting, unaffiliated crowd. At that period in Detroit -- the early to mid-sixties, you could see the problems of racism, classism, corporatism, and pollution, that became urban disintegration in so many other places, as well. There was much that was wonderful -- the music especially from the Black community -- Motown -- was a green lyrical voice growing out of the sidewalks.

As Jews of Detroit we occupied a curious place. Not moneyed, but not poor. Books, our history, gave us the sense of a horizon that could include many futures. The unfolding political events were totally compelling -- the Civil Rights and Anti-war movements; the deaths, or murders, of a generation's leaders had already begun. (And without that leadership, we seem to have found ourselves not in the progressive future that was flowering then, but in a parallel future that seems to prefer fundamentalism to originality. There was little actually known of Judaism by our neighbors (and perhaps that was our faults, we didn't speak about it much to non-Jews); some of whom thought we had horns under our curly hair as a sign of an evil nature. Wefell into a nether world between Black and White. After all, just a decade and half before six million of our people died, in part, because they were not "white" enough. And Christianity, which was so strong in parts of the Black community, seemed both foreign and responsible and for a history of misery. Still, we were not brought as slaves to America, nor trapped in factories or mines. We lived as other immigrants who came of their own free will did, through our connections to others who preceded us. And because of that, we had a responsibility to help. Sadly, most families we knew fled instead, to the safe confines of the suburbs.

With that move, the financial base of the city was shattered. Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is the only day a Jew goes down onto the ground to pray, though just for a moment. I remember the rabbi on that particular Yom Kippur lowering himself onto the floor of the center aisle as everyone sang and then men gathering around him and taking him by the elbows to lift him up again. He was small, vulnerable looking in his black gown, bird-like, but the act of humbling himself seemed to make the opposite happen, he became central and important in our vision; a kind of emblem that opposes man (the noun is purposeful) the tyrannical, invulnerable, and proposes man as equal and, sometimes, vulnerable. Later, when we crossed the street to rest and watch the river, the steely grey Detroit River, the sky was breaking open. The shafts of lights that shot through the clouds were at once a Hollywood moment and a real moment, because on that day it was Jewish in Detroit.
- Sari

I am the full time Shammas for the Shul.I reside here. Ring the bell if you are curious about our membership.Born, in Delray hospital 1957, am still here.

The Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue has been in that location since 1934 (there about). We have plans to get the facade done and do some renovations to the inside. Great Picture. Great Shul. I beleive it's the last vestage in our fair city for Jews to worship. I love the web site.
-- Patty J

jjaba (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Tuesday, May 31, 2005 - 7:55 pm

We attended High Holiday Services in the Veteran's Memorial, sponsored by Downtown Synagogue. This would have been in the 1950s.
Everybody was very friendly and we felt welcome. My family never affiliated anywhere else but wanted to attend services atleast then.

For Bar Mitzvahs, my brother and I shopped for a synagogue. Mine was at the Beth Moses on Linwood near Oakman Blvd. and his was at a small storefront shul on Wyoming near Curtis. We had our parties in the small two-flat we owned on Northlawn and Schoolcraft. The keg of Vernor's was set up in our bedroom.

It was fun to go downtown all dressed up for Services at the Downtown Synagogue's rented space in Veteran's Memorial. Everybody was given an envelope to contribute since we didn't have to buy High Holidays tickets beforehand there.

Arnie Panitch

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Linda (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Tuesday, April 25, 2006 - 11:30 pm

My father, Norton Rosin, was one of the founding members of the Issac Agree Downtown Synagogue. My grandfather, Israel Rosin , was known as Rev. Rosin, and I know that he taught many young boys their Bar Mitzvah Torah readings.
My Dad was always so happy to have a place to daven so close to his Law office in Downtown Detroit. I was so proud to see the Downtown Synagogue on the cover of the Detroit Jewish News during the Superbowl.I'd love to read more about the early days of the synagogue. I know that I was related to Isaac Agree,the Canvassers, Kaplans. I'm so happy to see that it still is very much alive and doing well.

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Posted on Wednesday, July 18, 2007 - 11:55 am

My Grandparents, Leo and Claire Raminick, belongs to the Downtown Shul, and it is the only Synagogue that I ever considered my own. Growing up my family didn't belong to a shul, but the High Holidays were spent in a Theater of some sort in Metro Detroit that the Shul had rented. I especially loved the annual Chanukah party. Nino, now the congregation's President, worked for the Trolley system in Detroit, and every year he would take all of the kids at the party on a trolley ride through Downtown in the snow. A few years back, I think I was a senior in high school, I got to the party and took my little cousin to say hello to Nino and he informed me that they were tearing down the trolley system, I almost cried right there. I also remember going downstairs and trying to help the man who made the doughnuts. And, whenever I would go to holiday parties I would go upstairs, actually I still do, and sit in the dark sanctuary and pray by myself. I didn't know any of the Hebrew prayers when I was younger, but I felt comfortable up there to say whatever I needed to G-d. Sitting up there one Purim, looking at my great-Grandparents names on the memorial wall, I decided that I needed to learn more and that I wanted to work to help the Jewish Community. I am now going into my 4th year at EMU studying Business and Non-profit management, and hope to go to graduate school for my MBA with a focus in Jewish Communal work. The Downtown Shul is where I started my quest to find my Jewish self and identity, no matter where that ends and where I find myself, it began there.
Kourtney Spaulding
Grand-Daughter of Leo and Claire Raminick

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ALFRED AGREE (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Saturday, September 15, 2007 - 1:26 am

My gandfather was Abraham Agree. He came to America In the late 1800s with two brothers,
one of whom may have been Isaac Agree. Abe went
to Philadelphia, where he was killed by a lightning strike in the 20s in Fairmount Park. I was told by my father, Benjamin, that his uncles "went west" to Michigan ? I was also told we were Sephardis,of Moroccan lineage and the name was ben AGRI a few centuries back.I have heard of an Alfred Arnold Agree,an architect ? L'Shona Tova !

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