The Lost Synagogues of Detroit » TEMPLE ISRAEL
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Lowell (admin)
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Post Number: 141
Registered: 1-2004
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Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 12:59 am

Tell us about this site! The following memories were previously contributed by email. To add your memories simply scroll to the bottom where you will find the "Add Your Message Here" posting box. Write your message, put any name you wish in the username box and click Preview/Post Message. [No password needed]
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You hit pay dirt. My father was the executive secretary of Temple Israel from 1948 until his untimely death at the age of 45 in l960. Until the building on Manderson was built, services were held, not in the DIA but in the Masonic Temple, which was right nearby. My father had almost daily meetings with the architect, which I wrongly remembered as being built by Louis Kahn. The temple was started in either 1948 or 49 and was finished a year later. I am 59 years old so I played there as a child, knew rabbi Fram very well. I was in the first Hebrew class taught by Rabbi Syme. I always loved the building but when I returned to see it in 1965 I realized what a jem it was. My name was Carole Kishner now Carole Zabar.


Built. 1951. 1956. 1960.
Architect: William E. Kapp (who built Meadow Brook Hall(Rochester), The Music Hall (Detroit), and the Horace H. Rackham Bldg. in Ann Arbor)

First to be finished was the circular sanctuary of limestone crowned with a classical frieze and a copper cornice with palmettes. The lotus columns flanking the Egyptoid entrance allude to the Middle Eastern origins of the Jews.

The social hall was built in 1956 and the educational wing added in 1960.

The sanctuary seats 1,200 under a beveled ceiling with overly slender Ionic columns. The congregation sold the bldg. to Word of Faith Temple and moved to West Bloomfield in 1980. It is said that this late Art Deco masterpiece was influenced by the stately apartment bldgs. in the Palmer Park area adjacent. References to the 1936 Rackham Bldg. by Kapp in Ann Arbor are also obvious.
- Arnie P

This building was the first one for Temple Israel. I believe it was built in the early 1950's. Before that the congregation met at the Detroit Institute of Art. My uncles and parents were charter members. I was married in this building in 1957 by Rabbi Fram, who was the original rabbi. It was a beautiful building, but the congregation moved north and the Temple followed.
- Susan

I believe that Temple Israel was the last Reform temple to remain in Detroit.
- Arlene

Visited the site of my Bar Mitzvah almost 30 years to the day later. Fortunately, it was a Sunday and I was able to go inside. While the exterior of the building could use some minor maintenance, the interior is immaculate, especially the former Leon Fram Social Hall, which never looked as good when it was T.I. Gone is the green marble bimah foundation and the columns behind it, as well as the Chagall stained glass windows (presently at the W. Bloomfield location) but the old maroon seats are now a powder blue and the the former sanctuary has a very bright and modern and even welcoming look to it. Still hanging from the ceiling is the massive Star of David, which is welded into the overhead beams, and upon which myself and two of my boyhood friends used to climb down onto from the overhead ceiling pathways to eat donuts during Saturday school breaks. This drove Sammy (remember Sammy the custodian?) nuts!

The deacon told me they lost one of the Twelve Tribes stained glass windows (from the easterly entrance doors). I responded that this was ok as the Jews lost 10 of the 12 tribes.
As a professional photographer, I have been in just about every temple or synagouge that has served as Jewish facility since 1974, and in my opinion, This Temple Israel is the most architectually beautiful of all our community houses of worship.
-- MJL

I remember services held in the DIA with refreshments following services in the adjacent court. I don't recall where High Holiday services were held so it is possible that the larger Scottish Rite auditorium of the Masonic Temple may have been used to accommodate the larger participation on those occasions. I do recall the festivities associated with the ground breaking for the new facility and the first services in the sanctuary. My parents, the Landsmans, and my in-laws, the Goulds, were charter members and part of the breakaway group following Rabbi Fram from Beth El. Cantor Tulman (sp?) was the first cantor and Karl Haas was the musical director. During my father's tenure as treasurer, for several years the temple hosted a musical series with guest concerts by Robert Merrill, Jan Pierce, Roberta Peters, and Regina Resnik. I reemember the selection process for the assistant rabbi and Monte Syme's arrival with his wife and very young family. Later, there was much excitement over the selection of a new cantor, Hal Orbach, and his celebrity wife, Evie, who played Rosalie, the daughter on "The Goldbergs" on the early 1950's television.
-- Rubyjean Gould
Williamsburg, VA

i just read what people remembered about Temple Israel on Manderson and Merton. My parents were charter members of Temple too and services were held not in Masonic temple but in the DIA auditorium before the new building was built. Along with Rabbi Fram was Cantor Robert Tullman who prepared me for Bar Mitzvah. Karl Haas of WJR's classical music show was the organist for years. Their Sunday school was held in Detroit's Hampton School near Livernois and Curtis which I attended from 1942 until 1953. Bruce Danto taught comparitive religion there. I was married in the Manderson Temple and my two grandmothers' lived in the apartments directly across the street on Merton and always kidded the custodian that they kept a better watch on the building than he did. Thanks,
-- Dan Pliskow

Walter Levine (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Friday, June 03, 2005 - 4:39 pm

My parents, Reuben and Goldie Levine, were among the founders of Temple Israel in the early forties under the leadership of Rabbi Leon Fram. He was one of the earliest pro-Zionists among Reform rabbis. He was previously at Temple Bethel but split with the chief rabbi, Leo Franklin, and arch anti-Zionist. We held forth at the Detroit Institute of Arts (where I was Bar Mitzvah -- one of the early ones in Reform), then to Manderson Rd, and finally to Maple Rd. Carol, I knew your father Aaron (?) Kischner, since my parents worked closely with him during the early days. Temple Israel is one of the few Reform Temples to have a mikva. What is this world coming to?

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Phyllis (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Thursday, June 30, 2005 - 8:51 am

My parents, Paul and Dorothy Segal, were charter members of Temple Israel, splitting from the old Temple when Rabbi Fram » s contract was not renewed. I attended 14 years of Sunday school, was blessed at age 4 by Rabbi Fram, and was in the 1957 confirmation class. I remember the beautiful round sanctuary with the stained glass windows shining light through the columns, and the gold ark, shaped like the original ark with carrying handles.

Phyllis Segal Darling

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dallaslorber (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Tuesday, January 09, 2007 - 4:07 pm

My name is Jack Lorber. My parents Walter & Edith Lorber & my uncle Dr Joe Lorber were Temple members. I attended Hebrew school & was taught by Rabbi Syme & Helen Gilbert. I was bar mitzvahed
03-23-1956 w/Rabbi Syme & Cantor Tullman(snowed all day!). My sister Ilaine Packman Lorber married Howard Packman 09-06-1959 in Temple.
I was active in Temple H S & TYG & attended several MSTY conclaves.
I remember Carole Kirshner as a very cute redhead!
Good luck & continued success w/this website.
P.S. My 1st cousin Dr Cheryl Lorber Hack rsides in Huntington Woods.

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tcitrin (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Sunday, September 09, 2007 - 11:37 am

This is fascinating! I was searching for the correct spelling of Cantor Robert S. Tulman (Tullman?) and Google found this site with some wonderful memories. I'm in my 70s now, and have clear recollections of some of the parents those who wrote the above quotes describe.

My Dad, Jacob A. Citrin, was also one of the charter members of Temple Israel, and our family were good friends of the Levines and the Pliskows, and probably some other relatives whose postings only carry initials or first names (e.g. was NN's father Aaron Kishner? We knew him well!).

My memories of the Temple go back to the '40s, when we worshipped weekly in the DIA Lecture Hall and for High Holy Days and other special holidays in the DIA Main Auditorium. It's the seat-naming opportunity for the reconstruction of the latter that brought me to this site - I want to name a seat in memory of Leon Fram, Robert S. Tulman (Tullman?) and Karl Haas whose words and music inspired those in the auditorium.

During the 60th commemoration of D-Day a few years ago, my memory went back to the actual day, when the Temple's "telephone squad" summoned us all to the DIA main auditorium. As a kid of 10, I found myself with my parents and older brother listening to Rabbi Fram speak of the deaths that were about to occur.

My mother, Matilda Citrin, used to prepare the "Oneg Shabbats" following Friday night services. These were held in the "Romanesque Hall" outside the Lecture Hall, and it was fascinating to have all of us munching cake and coffee under the very large crucifix that dominated (probably still does) that hall. A spiral staircase from the Romanesque Hall led up to the Egyptian room in the museum, and was blocked with a screen after hours.
Us kids, of course, squeezed through the edge of the screen and went up into the dark room where the mummies were on display!

I remember vividly the ground-breaking for the new Temple - everyone in overcoats - Mayor Louis Miriani welcoming the new structure's start.

Yes, Temple Israel was the last family-oriented Jewish Congregation to be within the city. As it prepared to leave, several of us living in Lafayette Park, together with Carl Levin (then the President of the Detroit City Council) decided that we needed to create a new synagogue in the City to continue a formal Jewish presence. That became Congregation T'Chiyah. A link was created between the departing Temple Israel and the arriving Congregation T'Chiyah when Temple Israel (I believe through its Rabbi Loss) donated the use of an extra ark (which had been used in the DIA Lecture Hall), a Torah and several dozen prayer books enabling us to have the ritual necessities to begin holding services.

Tons of memories that I could add - but these come to mind right now. Thanks to you all for starting this page. I'll keep on looking in.

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Steven Brooke (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Monday, May 11, 2009 - 4:38 pm

My mother, Shoshana Brooke Freedman, was the soprano soloist with the quartet. Karl Haas was the organist. The acoustics in Temple Israel were wonderful. Several recordings of High Holiday services were made there in the early 60s.

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