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Paper: Tragedy and Continuity in the Synagogue: The Murder of Rabbi Morris Adler

Michael Baum, 21, is a senior at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., majoring in economics and business, and minoring in near eastern and Judaic studies.

The West Bloomfield native and Shaarey Zedek congregant wrote a paper for Professor Sarna’s American Judaism class at Brandeis entitled, “Tragedy and Continuity in the Synagogue:  The Murder ofRabbi Morris Adler.”

“In light of Congregation Shaarey Zedek’s 150th anniversary, I want to submit this final paper that I wrote for Professor Sarna’s American Judaism class at Brandeis University this past spring to the Jewish News,” he wrote in an email. “Most literature that I initially found on the subject sensationalized the murderer (Richard Wishnetsky), giving little or no attention whatsoever to Rabbi Adler, his contributions, and how it influenced our synagogue.

“Thus, primarily through interviews with congregants Judy Levin Cantor, witness to the tragedy and CSZ archivist and historian, and Harold Berry (son of Mr. Louis Berry who was president at the time of Adler’s death), I wrote this paper to honor Rabbi Adler’s contributions.

“I focused my work on our synagogue’s ability to cope with tragedy and ensure continuity,” he continued.

“In light of Shaarey Zedek’s 150th anniversary, I think it would be important for members of our community learn about this tragic event. Rabbi Adler’s wide range of contributions to the Detroit Jewish community connected him with so many families. Regardless of their age or generation, members of our community should know about this event that shaped our history. Besides learning about Rabbi Adler and an extremely significant piece of our past, they can understand how we have overcome great obstacles that have helped us build strength for future generations.”

The JN is happy to make Baum’s paper available to the community. You can download it by clicking on this link:  Rabbi Adler .



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