Jewish History Soundbites

Great American Jewish Cities #22: Detroit Part I

July 6, 2021
The rich Jewish history of the Motor City includes many fascinating institutions and individuals. From the early farming settlements in Michigan, to the immigrant communities of Detroit proper, this part one of a series on Detroit Jewish history will examine some of the personalities and their impact on the developing community.

There was the interesting experiment of Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin of Detroit, which hosted one of the first Siyum Hashas celebrations in the United States. Rav Yehuda Leib Levin was an early rabbi who founded what was to become the Beth Yehuda school, eventually named for him. With the arrival of Rav Avraham Abba Friedman and later Rav Shalom Goldstein, Jewish education was transformed. With Rav Simcha Wasserman, later Rav Joseph Elias, Rav Shmuel Yerachmiel Kaufman and other legendary Detroit educators, the original Beth Yehuda spawned a Jewish education revolution which formed the basis of the community's growth in the coming decades. Following the war, Rav Leib Bakst of the Mir Yeshiva would arrive and stand at the helm of the yeshiva for the next 55 years. A student of Radin & Kelm, Rav Eliezer Levin later served as the rabbinical leader and architect of the city's Jewish infrastructure for decades as well.
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