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Shared Memories of Temple Israel
9/12/04: 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.
professional photographer, I have been in just about every temple or
synagogue that has served as Jewish facility since 1974, and in my
opinion, This Temple Israel is the most architecturally beautiful of all
our community houses of worship.
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 (it was only as an adult that I learned that he was gay).
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.
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.
- Arnie P
I believe that Temple Israel was the last Reform temple to remain in Detroit.