Year In Review 2016
The Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue unveiled a new urban agriculture program called Seeds to Table just before Tu b’Shevat. Volunteers nurture seeds into plantlets then transplant them into the community garden in the spring.
Metro Detroit’s Jewish community reacted to the lead-tainted water crisis in Flint by collecting bottled water and monetary donations. Temple Shir Shalom, B’nai Israel Synagogue, Temple Israel, Congregation Beth Shalom, Adat Shalom Synagogue, Hillel Day School, Goodman Acker PC law firm, Federation’s NEXTGen, Moishe House Royal Oak, Repair the World and The Well all worked to help those in Flint.
The Detroit Jewish News was named the Michigan Press Association’s 2015 Newspaper of the Year in its circulation class — winning 17 writing and design awards in statewide competition.
Tamarack Camps issued a new immunization policy. By 2017, no one will be allowed to come to camp without documentation of complete immunization.
The Jewish Fund, in partnership with the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, launched a comprehensive community study to gauge the health and welfare needs of the Jewish community.
The Michigan Department of Transportation presented plans to the Oak Park City Council for extensive repairs to the I-696 overpass in Oak Park to fix drainage problems.
JARC opened its new JARC Center for Autism and Rehabilitation Services in Farmington Hills. The center provides Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), speech therapy, physical therapy and occupational therapy services.
The JN featured a story on the new coed Harvey Milk BBYO chapter, formed after BBYO changed its rules to allow people to join chapters based on the gender with which they identify. The Harvey Milk chapter has 12 active members encompassing a spectrum of gender identities.
The JN profiled the new Detroit City Moishe House in Detroit’s historic Indian Village, which planned to build off the continued successes of the Moishe House in Royal Oak.
The community commemorated the 50th anniversary of the death of Rabbi Morris Adler, who was shot by a disturbed congregant on the bimah at Congregation Shaarey Zedek in 1966. The Detroit Jewish News Foundation created a new page on its website that includes stories about Rabbi Adler and memories from Shaarey Zedek members.
The U.S. Department of Education, accusing the Michigan Jewish Institute in West Bloomfield of illegally obtaining federal Pell Grants in its study abroad program, denied the school recertification in the Title IV student financial aid program.
NCJW/Greater Detroit launched its 125th anniversary year with many special activities planned. The Detroit Section, with more than 1,500 members, is one of the largest in the United States.
The inaugural Limmud Michigan was a resounding success, offering more than 50 learning opportunities in one day at the Michigan Union in Ann Arbor on March 13.
Entrepreneur David Farbman announced a $1 million commitment to Federation, becoming the youngest major donor to the Federation’s Centennial campaign.
The University of Michigan Hillel earned AIPAC’s 2016 Duke Rudman Leadership Award, the organization’s highest honor that recognizes campuses leading in pro-Israel political leadership and activism.
Two resolutions to boycott Israeli academic institutions and divest funds from companies doing business with Israel were overwhelmingly voted down by faculty members at the University of Michigan-Dearborn.
During a ceremony held April 11 in Detroit, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced the next Arleigh-Burke class destroyer, DDG 120, will be named USS Carl M. Levin in honor of the longest-serving senator in Michigan history.
After the Michigan Jewish Institute filed a 33-page response to Department of Education allegations of widespread and long-term misuse of Pell Grants, the DOE said in a letter that the denial is now “a final agency decision” and that MJI is ineligible to participate in Title IV programs.
Rabbi Norman Roman, Temple Kol Ami’s rabbi for the past 30 years, announced his retirement effective July 1.
Seventy-five years ago, the late Rabbi Leon Fram, Temple Israel’s founding rabbi, wrote The History of Temple Israel. It began, “It was a significant event in the history of American Judaism that occurred when a new Reform congregation was organized in the city of Detroit in the summer of 1941.” Looking back three quarters of a century, it is hard not to marvel at his foresight as he remembered the beginnings of what would become the largest Reform congregation in North America.
In honor of its 75th anniversary, Temple Israel wrote a new Torah. The Mitzvah 613 Torah Project began in April with a kick-off celebration where the very first letters of the new Torah were ceremoniously scribed on the bimah. Hundreds of members fulfilled the 613th mitzvah by writing a letter. This memorable project concluded in June 2017 when Temple Israel’s new Torah was dedicated.
Jewish Family Service held its annual meeting, “Mission Possible,” to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Operation Exodus. Famous refusenik Natan Sharansky was the guest speaker.
The Machon Devorah library at Bais Chabad of North Oak Park, which opens twice weekly for the community, opened its doors in May.
LifeLinks, a new Jewish Hospice & Chaplaincy Network (JHCN) program, designed to bridge the gap between diagnosis of a life-threatening illness and the eligibility for hospice care, led by Rabbi Joseph Krakoff, launches.
After more than 26 years as the owner and manager of the Tradition!Tradition! Judaica store, Alicia Nelson decides it’s time to retire and is looking to sell the business she runs in her Southfield home.
After 25 years at Congregation B’nai Moshe in West Bloomfield, Rabbi Elliot Pachter said he would retire to focus on his role as dean of student services and programming at Frankel Jewish Academy in West Bloomfield. He would become rabbi emeritus of B’nai Moshe on July 1.
Mohel Dr. Craig Singer of Bloomfield Hills was turned around at the Windsor Tunnel crossing on May 19 as he traveled to perform a circumcision for a Windsor family because he didn’t have a work permit from the Canadian Department of Immigration.
Norman Shy, 74, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit federal program bribery and federal income tax evasion for failing to report income earned during 2011 for his part in a massive bribery/kickback scheme involving the Detroit Public Schools.
Rabbi Herschel Finman found a home in a former dentist’s office on the western edge of the city’s downtown for Jewish Ferndale. The grand opening is set for the fall.
Chabad-Lubavitch of Michigan’s four-year secular court case against the Bais Chabad Torah Center ended May 23, when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up Chabad of Michigan’s appeal, thus granting victory to the Torah Center.
NEXTGen Detroit launched NEXTGen Detroit Pride to “serve as a welcoming gateway into the Jewish community for LGBTQA young adults.” The kickoff event was May 31.
The Farber Soul Center in West Bloomfield held its official grand opening June 5. The brainchild of Friendship Circle, the center offers artistic and employment opportunities for young adults with special needs.
On June 5, Beth Israel Congregation held a gala event in celebration of its 100th anniversary.
Marjorie Fisher died at her home in Palm Beach, Fla., on June 12 at age 92. The wife of the late Detroit industrialist and philanthropist Max Fisher, she devoted herself to improving the lives of others at home and throughout the world.
On June 19, the Clara and Irvin Charach Tamarack Museum opened at Tamarack Camps.
On June 30, a changing of the guard took place at Congregation Shir Tikvah in Troy. Arnold Sleutelberg — “Rabbi Arnie” to the congregation — retired after 28 years. His successor, Rabbi Aura Ahuvia, took over July 1.
In honor of its 25th anniversary, the Leonard N. Simons Jewish Community Archives created the exhibit “25 Years, 25 Treasures,” showcasing some of its most significant and rarely seen objects, documents and photographs.
Rabbi Daniel Syme, the third longest-tenured rabbi in Temple Beth El’s 156-year history, was honored June 24 as he became only its third rabbi emeritus.
Hebrew Free Loan established the Pitt Fund for Special Needs, which offers interest-free loans up to $10,000 to qualifying Jewish families in Michigan.
Two local girls, Kaylie Eisenberg and Dresden Cogan, both 15, were severely injured when crushed by a tree during a trip to Isle Royale as part of an annual 11-day CIT trip with Camp Tanuga on July 9. They both made full recoveries.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law House Bill 4493, which requires Michigan school districts and public school academies to provide genocide education, including lessons about the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide of 1915.
On July 22, Temple Israel celebrated Cantor Neil Michaels, who received his cantorial certification following a four-year course of part-time study. Rachel Kalmowitz of Temple Beth El also earned her cantorial certification in the same class.
A diverse set of couples traveled through Israel as part of the community’s first interfaith couples mission to Israel, which was sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit’s Nora & Guy Barron Mission Lab.
The Jewish Community Relations Council of Metropolitan Detroit and American Jewish Committee-Detroit combined as JCRC|AJC: A Partnership for Community Relations and Jewish Advocacy.
Temple B’nai Israel, Kalamazoo’s Reform congregation, celebrated the 150th anniversary of its founding by 20 Jewish pioneer families in 1866.
The inaugural Michigan Jewish Food Festival debuted Aug. 28 in Detroit’s Eastern Market.
Matthew Kuppe, the former Jewish Community Center Day Camp counselor arrested last year for taking nude photos of young campers and posting them on a website for pedophiles, pleaded guilty to distribution of child pornography on Aug. 4.
Tamarack Camps opened the Teva Complex, where campers will learn about nature, the environment and sustainability.
While the newly named Farber Hebrew Day School-Yeshivat Akiva in Southfield welcomed students for the school year, a 31 percent shortfall in tuition assistance left some families scrambling for last-minute loans or making alternate arrangements for their children’s education.
Hillel Day School completed a multi-year, multi-million-dollar update of its facilities and dedicated its new learning communities at a ceremony Sept. 1.
The JN profiled six new congregational rabbis in the community: Rabbi Yonatan Dahlen at Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Southfield, Rabbi Shalom Kantor at Congregation B’nai Moshe in West Bloomfield, Rabbi Ariana Silverman at the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue in Detroit, Rabbi Megan Brudney at Temple Beth El in Bloomfield Township, Rabbi Brent Gutmann at Temple Kol Ami in West Bloomfield and Rabbi Aura Ahuvia of Congregation Shir Tikvah in Troy.
The Lester and Jewell Morris Hillel Jewish Student Center at Michigan State University in East Lansing opened the new kosher Charles Street Deli, located in its main dining hall, on Sept. 12.
Congregation Shaarey Zedek’s Rabbi Aaron Starr sparked a community conversation with his Rosh Hashanah sermon: “Time To Say Kaddish for Tikkun Olam.”
The Detroit Jewish News Foundation’s William Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History (djnfoundation.org) underwent upgrades to make the site faster and easier to use. New content, such as custom biographies of community leaders and interactive opportunities for users to add their own videos, audio clips and/or text offerings to important historical events, was also added.
Former Detroit Public Schools vendor Norman Shy was sentenced to five years in prison for his part in a massive kickback scheme where he received $2.7 million for fraudulent invoices submitted to Detroit Public Schools.
Jewish Metro Detroiters mourn the loss of Shimon Peres, who died Sept. 28.
On Sept. 30, the Wayne State University Press celebrated its 75th anniversary at a reception honoring the late Leonard N. Simons and his daughter, Mary Lou Zieve, who both played important roles in the Press’ development.
A celebration honoring Carol Rosenberg’s nearly four decades of service to local Jewish seniors took place Oct. 13 in recognition of her retirement.
The JN introduced its board of advisers and a revamped website with more free content. With its 75th anniversary next year, the JN is committed to continuous improvement as it serves the community.
Responding to the changing needs in the Metro Detroit Jewish community, NEXTGen Detroit launched its Interfaith Couples Group with a kickoff event in Ferndale Oct. 27.
The homegrown film The Pickle Recipe made its Metro Detroit debut Nov. 4. The film, produced by Sheldon Cohn and Gary Wolfson, was shot on location in and around Metro Detroit in just 22 days.
B’nai David Cemetery was granted historical status by the Detroit City Council, protecting it from any future development and honoring its historical significance.
After Republican Donald Trump got the surprise win in the presidential election Nov. 8, many Democrats and Progressives reached out to others in the Jewish community for support.
A divestment resolution before the University of Michigan Central Student Government (CSG) on Nov. 15 failed to pass by a vote of 34 to 13, with three abstentions.
Jewish Senior Life debuted its first cookbook, Friends Cook: Generation to Generation, on Nov. 17, featuring local recipes from community members.
Federation leaders announced that demolition on the Jimmy Prentis Morris Building on the A. Alfred Taubman campus in Oak Park would begin by the end of the year to make way for a new community building, which was to be built starting in spring 2017.
Compiled by Editorial Assistant Sy Manello and Managing Editor Jackie Headapohl