Left: The installation of the genizah took place this summer. Right: Zachary Friedman lowers books into the genizah.
Left: The installation of the genizah took place this summer. Right: Zachary Friedman lowers books into the genizah. (Courtesy of B’nai Moshe)

This summer, Zachary Friedman led a group in designing, building and installing a genizah on the synagogue property as his requirement to become an Eagle Scout.

B’nai Moshe is thrilled to have one of, if not the only, “living” genizah on the grounds of a synagogue in Metro Detroit — perhaps the country even.

A genizah is a place to bury ritual items such as damaged prayer books, tallitot and other ritual objects that should not be thrown away. Over time, the contents of the genizah will become one with the Earth.

This summer, Zachary Friedman led a group in designing, building and installing a genizah on the synagogue property as his requirement to become an Eagle Scout. Only 4% of scouts have earned this designation in the last 100 years. This is the first Eagle Scout project of its kind in the state.

What is a living genizah? It’s a phrase coined by B’nai Moshe Executive Director Steven Fine to depict that the genizah, while covered, is not full; and religious books and ritual articles can be added to the genizah at any time. The West Bloomfield synagogue doesn’t anticipate the genizah to be completely filled for years.

“Zachary came to me asking if there was a project at B’nai Moshe that we needed done. Rabbi Shalom Kantor and I had just recently discussed the idea of a living genizah, so the timing was perfect,” Fine said.

Zachary worked with an architect to design the genizah and raised all the money to cover the materials needed to build and install it. 

Rabbi Kantor dedicated the genizah and indicated the importance of books, past and present, particularly to the Jewish people. Even though the life or usefulness of a book is limited, the knowledge contained therein continues in the minds of those who have read or studied that book. 

The first book that was carefully placed in the genizah by Zachary was a bible from the 1800s.

Many of Zachary’s fellow scouts and their parents helped in installing the genizah along with B’nai Moshe members. B’nai Moshe is extremely proud and grateful for Zachary’s wonderful Eagle Scout project. 

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