Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Congregation Shaarey Zedek

In 1861, 17 followers of Traditional Judaism withdrew from the Beth El Society in Detroit to found the Shaarey Zedek Society. In 1877, the membership constructed the first building in the Detroit area to be erected specifically as a synagogue, at Congress and St. Antoine Streets. New structures followed on Winder Street in 1902 and on Willis and Brush Streets in 1913. The membership continued to grow and in 1913, as the first Conservative Jewish Congregation in the Detroit area, Shaarey Zedek became one of the founding congregations of the United Synagogue of America. In 1932, the congregation moved into a new structure on Chicago Boulevard in Detroit.

At the 100th annual meeting of the Congregation on April 12, 1961, more than 700 members approved the recommendation from the Board of Directors that a new synagogue be built on a forty-acre site in Southfield Township. The congregation's building was designed by Percival Goodman and dedicated in January 1963.

The sanctuary exterior, a large pyramidal form of rough concrete, suggests Mount Sinai where the Torah was received. Indented in it are ten forms, representing the Ten Commandments. The focal point of the sanctuary is the Ark of the Covenant. It stands forty feet high, fashioned of Israeli marble, and framed by the great stained glass windows representing the Burning Bush. Upon the Ark are ten Hebrew letters which represent the Ten Commandments, and a sculpture symbolic of the Tree of Life.



Congregation Shaarey Zedek Exterior, c.1950 – 2014.003.292

Congregation Shaarey Zedek 90th Anniversary Booklet, 1951 – 1988.028.002

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