Politicians, philanthropists, congregation members and local business owners gathered under a sunny, blue sky with floating tiny white clouds late Sunday morning and early into the afternoon to celebrate the reopening of Detroit’s Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue on Griswold in downtown following a nearly $6 million renovation.
Speakers included Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Congressman Shri Thanedar, City Councilman Coleman A. Young II and members and officials of the synagogue including Rabbi Ariana Silverman. The synagogue was founded in 1921 and purchased the current building on Griswold in Captiol Park in 1964.
The celebration included food and live music. Some of the neighbors on the block who attended the event included Cafe D'Mongo's Speakeasy owner Larry Mongo, an African American who converted to Judaism, and Josh Greenwood, who converted his Urban Bean Co. coffee shop into SPKR BOX, a coffee shop/bar during the day and a Detroit techno club at night.
The synagogue President Samantha Woll told the crowd there are more renovations to come and urged supporters to donate to help facilitate future changes.
The city saw an exodus of many Jews in the 50s, 60s and 70s, who migrated north to suburbs including Oak Park, Southfield and Huntington Woods, and eventually West Bloomfield, Farmington Hills, Commerce Township and Franklin. In recent years, a younger generation of Jews has moved into the city in areas like Midtown, downtown, Woodbridge and Corktown.