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Reform and Conservative Synagogues in Detroit Announce ‘trial Merger’

A “trial merger” of a Conservative congregation and a Reform temple has been effected in the suburban area of Livonia, it was announced here. Merged for one year of trial are the Livonia Jewish Congregation, Conservative, formed in 1958, and Temple Beth Am, Reform, formed in 1960.

During the first year, Rabbi David Jessel, spiritual leader of Beth Am, said, he will attempt to use prayers from both the Reform and Conservative prayerbooks. “By Rosh Hashana, ” he said, “we should know whether the trial merger will work.”

One problem not as yet settled, Rabbi Jessel said, concerns the religious school. Beth Am conducts religious classes from kindergarten to 12th grade. The Conservative congregation has been conducting classes only to second grade and from eighth grade up, with the interim-age children being educated under the direction of the United Hebrew Schools.

During the trial year, the names and finances of the two congregations will remain separate, permitting a complete unification and formal merger to be decided upon only after the year of trial.

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