Detroit synagogue undergoes resurgence as it hits fundraising goal


Detroit — The Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue is the last of its kind — the final free-standing building in the city of Detroit that is a place of Jewish worship. Its future is getting brighter just a few years after the downtown synagogue appeared headed for history.

Monday afternoon the synagogue, located in Capitol Park at 1457 Griswold St., reached a $60,000 goal through an online Indiegogo fundraising campaign, which matches an earlier $60,000 private fundraising effort. All the money will go to renovating part of the building’s ailing infrastructure and removing graffiti.


The fundraising success is the latest testimony to the new surge of energy going on at the synagogue, recognizable for its multi-colored windows. Members credit an influx of young Jews moving to the city who, in turn, have worked to broaden the synagogue’s outreach. Others credit the overall revival of downtown as helping their cause, as well.

Membership has doubled to around 300 paid members in the past two years. Besides weekly Shabbat services, activities at the synagogue range from film nights to Torah studies to late-night dance parties.

“This is the most unique synagogue I’ve ever been involved in. I have never felt so connected to community as I have here. I would call it place-making Judaism,” said Anna Weitzer, 26, a recent Detroit transplant from Ann Arbor who is on the board of directors. Examples of that “place-making Judaism” includes the synagogue’s effort to work with a Detroit farm so that kosher food can be grown locally, and helping downtown residents learn more about tenants’ rights.

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