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Shared Memories of Shaarey Torah
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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.