New Life for the old Downtown Synagogue

Changing times and population movement left the Isaac Agree Memorial Society aka the Downtown Synagogue as the last remaining active synagogue inside the City of Detroit, its numbers diminishing and future uncertain.

By vigorously recruiting new like-minded members, a younger contingent assumed positions on the synagogue's board and moved the congregation in a new direction by recruiting involved youth and vigorously organizing events to highlight its presence. They also re-positioned the formerly Conservative shul to an open stance, welcoming all from Reform to Orthodox and opening its doors of worship to everyone, regardless of faith.

"We're a younger, more secular generation," [Leor] Barak says, "We saw this as an opportunity to revitalize Detroit and reconnect with Judaism."

Tour the Downtown Synagogue!

Visit The Downtown Synagogue in The Lost Synagogues of Detroit Tour.


Beautiful, poignant and largely forgotten, the former synagogues of Detroit outline once closely knit neighborhoods from the days when Detroit was a conglomerate of vibrant immigrant and ethnic communities, of a time when families walked to their places of worship which stood in the midst of their neighborhoods.

Today almost all the synagogues of Detroit are Christian houses of worship for Detroit's Afro American community. This is a story of two communities and two faiths, told by those who worshipped and continue to worship in these houses of prayer.

Life moves on but the Lost Synagogues of Detroit live on and continue to serve their community and shelter its faith. Come with me as I explore this intriguing facet of Detroit history and help me to uncover and recover their story.  I am an outsider to their history,  I know little about them.  Do you?  Share them.

This is an audience authored story. The words you read and the stories you will hear are yours and those. Join the others who are contributing their memories and knowledge. Many thanks to those of you who have contributed your stories to this project.

This art site has been created by Lowell Boileau, author of the Fabulous Ruins of Detroit website.


Welcome to, a voyage of discovery of the former Jewish Synagogues and institutions in the City of Detroit, as told by you the reader.  Add your memories.

Enjoy, Lowell

HOW TO PARTICIPATE: Have stories or facts about any of these synagogues / churches? You are invited to share them with the world.

On each page you will see a SHARE MEMORIES link. Simply click that link and follow the easy instructions to post your memories and pictures for all to enjoy.

This is an audience authored art work and you are the artists.

The Lost Synagogues of Detroit is a dedicated to the shuls that are today mostly African American Baptist Churches.Includes information about Detroit, synagogue, synagogues, shul, jewish, jew, synagog, temple, Beth El, menorah, Shaarey Zedek, torah, mogen david, Temple Israel, Sinai Hospital, B'nai David, Beth Olem, Avas Achim, Beth Aaron, reform, conservative, rabbi, Adat Shalom, Israel, beth emmanual, schvitz, Albert Kahn and Butzel.