The Lost Synagogues of Detroit » SHAAREY TORAH
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Lowell (admin)
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Username: admin

Post Number: 137
Registered: 1-2004
Posted From:
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 12:54 am

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I recently read an article mentioning your synagogue tour in the Jewish News and was introduced to your website. You are to be congratulated for compiling the almost forgotten information and pictures to substantiate the Jewish presence in Detroit, which is now almost unknown by young people and others not wishing to deal with the humble beginnings of a great community.

Anyway, I received several photos of a building at the above address which is known as the House of God but was originally a Hebrew school/synagogue in the E. McNichols/John R area, an area that never had any Jewish buildings, to my knowledge. The Hebrew wording above the door basically reads "Congregation Shaarai Torah"(Gates of Learning). While I am familiar with a few old synagogues in the Holbrook/Oakland/Westminister, just west of I-75 and north of Grand Blvd., this address is the only building of its sort north of Davison and east of Woodward that I have ever encountered, and I am 60 years old, born in Detroit.

It appears to have been built in the 1920's and may have served families who did not move en masse to the Linwood/12th. St. neighborhoods as most of the Oakland residents did by the late 30's or 40's. As such, in my mind, the folks who attended this little shul may represent a "lost colony" of eastside Jews who took a different path in their Detroit wanderings.

As you may know there is precious little written about Jews living on the eastside of Detroit as they were perhaps an anomaly or divergent element from the overall patterns of ethnic movement within the city, but that's what I find so fascinating. Some of these families may have intermarried and blended in with the neighboring German, English, Irish, or basic American types and are "lost", but I'd bet others have interesting stories about their eastside experiences trying to maintain their Jewish identity.
- Edna S.

maf (Unregistered Guest)
Permitted by Moderator
Posted From:
Posted on Saturday, October 13, 2007 - 4:22 am

I have recently found this website while surfing the web in search of some Detroit nostalgia. This site is just fabulous!! I've been a Los Angelean for 30 years, but " you can take the girl out of Motown but you can't take Motown out of the girl"!
Anyway, Shaarey Torah was my father's family shul. He grew up on Brush Street. This area was a small Jewish community. I used to love hearing his stories about how he, my uncle, and their friends used to act up in the Hebrew school by pulling pranks on their Hebrew teacher. A possible embellishment: either my uncle or one of the other boys would get kicked out of class, then would go in the hall and tie the door handles of a couple of class rooms together; then knock on the doors. The teacher would then go to open the door and it wouldn't open. Meanwhile, the other boys would jump out the windows to go play baseball. I don't know what they did to terrorize their teacher in the wintertime!
Also, because this was a small community, my father, uncle, and any other 13 + year old male was frequently rousted out of bed in order to make a minyan. This was my Zeydah's, father's, and uncle's shul. They later moved to Northwest Detroit in the 40's.
I'm very moved by this website. I loved seeing the pictures of my shul--Adas (Adat) Shalom on Curtis.
Thank you

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