We welcome and invite you to share your memories of Detroit's former synagogues and Jewish sites.
Shared Memories of Temple Beth El
Email your memories to us » and we will add them to the site.
Beth el II was the home of the first jewish community center - this is
now known as the Considine Recreation Center (City of detroit) near Northern
High. The next Jewish comm-ctr was at Petosky and West Davison later the
site of ???? Hospital. Next Jewish comm ctr was build and is now the present
Northwest Activities center.Wow! Thanks for the trip down memory lane!
I attended Beth El Sunday School from age 5 in 1955 through Bar Mitzvah
and Confirmation (end of HS in 67). The congregation built at 14th and
Telegraph when I was at Wayne State University. The well known Rabbi when
I was young was Richard Hertz, and the choir-master was Julian Tikton
and his wife whose name, I think, was Vivian.
It was one of the largest best-established Reform congregations
in Detroit in the 50s and 60s. Although we complained bitterly about having
to get up and go downtown early Sunday mornings, we had a great time at
Beth El. In the early 60s I remember skipping out of class and running
down the street to Big Daddyos to eat burgers with black people (who were
only seen as maids in our own neighborhoods) and play dangerous sounding
music on the juke box like "Hit the Road Jack". The movie "Liberty
Heights" captures what it was like quite well. There was a beatnik
basement coffeehouse attached to the temple that was, of course, off limits
to us younger kids, and quite desirable as a result. I think it was called
"The Retort". Sadly, I never got down there.
- Steven B.
Temple Beth El at 3424 Woodward and Elliot, by Mason and
Kahn, is now the Bonstelle Theater. There is no relationship today with
the original usage. The exterior is a model of the Pantheon and the interior
was richly decorated with Louis XVI detailing. Interior seating is semi-circular
around the dome resting on squinches and , in turn, piers.
The land was purchased in 1901 and the cornerstone was
laid in 1902. The dedication was held Sept. 18-19, 1903. In 1905, a Temple
gym was dedicated. A mass meeting on behalf of the victims of the San
Francisco earthquake was held here on April 21, 1906.
In 1922, the congregation moved to another Kahn-designed
Temple Beth El, up to 8801 Woodward at Gladstone. This building recalls
The Lincoln Memorial.
- Arnie P
If this is the temple I think it is, near the Jewish Center,
I attended from kindergarten through high school. I taught Sunday school
there somewhere about 1946-1950. My mother taught Sunday school the whole
time that I went. I remember a wonderful old rabbi who left retired shortly
after I started attending. Then another rabbi, Sol Glazer, who I was scared
to death of, and finally Sidney Axelrod who all the mothers had lined
up for their daughters. I was confirmed there and graduated from the high
school. I still have several pictures of our classes. I graduated in 1946
so I must have started in 1934. Somehow I remember another Rabbi Lynon.
[Afterthought. The Rabbi was B. Benedict Glaser. Sol Glaser was my great
- Carol M
My mother was in the first confirmation class at Temple Beth El. She is
now 91 years old. Our family were members and my sister, brother and I
were confirmed there in the 40s and 50s. We all have memories of many
happy days there, including holiday dinners and celebrations. My memories
start going back to Rabbi Franklin.
- Joanne L. H.
My family enjoyed membership at Beth El from
the 40's to the 90's. My mother remained a member until her death in 1995.
The original alter and paneling from the main sanctuary was moved to the
new Temple in Birmingham and now constitutes the smaller worship hall.
The stained glass windows from the original building were also moved to
the new one. There were 4 levels of classrooms and the lower level contained
the social hall and a gymnasium.
Just a small note... on the south side of
the building is written the inscription "My house shall be a house
of worship to all nations." Very fitting, isn't it?
This is the Temple Beth El which moved from 3424
Woodward Ave., by Mason and Kahn (1903), now Bonstelle Theater.
The move was in 1922. The JCC [Jewish Community Center] on Woodward
near Clairmont (now Considine Center) is nearby.
Temple Beth El. Built by Albert Kahn, 1922. Temple
Beth El is Michigan's first Jewish Congregation, (1850). Octastyle
temple in the Ionic Order of architecture. It recalls the Lincoln Memorial,
and anticipates Angell Hall by Kahn in Ann Arbor. The bldg. is
grand, imposing, dignified and a monumental classic. Kahn shows he can
design a neo-classical bldg. AND industrial-functional factories.
I remember the Temple Beth El quite well. In the late
1930's, I was a boy scout in Troop 76 that met every week in the meeting
rooms there. I once attended a service in Temple Beth El with members
of Troop 76. Up to that time I had only been to orthodox synagogues. The
service in English and Hebrew was very strange to me.