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Rebuilding Efforts Begun by Congregation Whose Synagogue Was Destroyed by Fire

January 21, 1983
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Congregation Beth Abraham Hillel Moses in the suburban community of West Bloomfield has already begun its rebuilding efforts to reconstruct the sanctuary, social hall and two kitchens destroyed by fire Monday night.

The congregation will open an office in the largely-spared school wing today or tomorrow and expects to move its Hebrew classes back into the refurbished school wing within two weeks. In the meantime, weekday afternoon and Sunday classes will be held at a public elementary school one mile away.

Daily minyanim will be held in the home of a member of the congregation or in the home of Rabbi A. Irving Schnipper until the school wing is ready. The congregation will hold Sabbath services at the nearby First Church of Christ Scientist until their sanctuary is rebuilt.

Synagogue president Nat Fishman told the congregation yesterday that the synagogue has received an outpouring of donations from the Detroit area’s Jewish and non-Jewish communities. Area synagogues are providing prayer shawls and prayer books, and arranging to host functions. Fishman said that Beth Abraham Hillel Moses plans to be back in its own sanctuary in time for the High Holidays next September.

Five Torah scrolls were destroyed in the fire, but fire fighters were able to save six large Torahs and three small ones from the synagogue’s small chapel. With the aid of fire fighters, Schnipper entered his smokey but unscarred office during the fire to rescue a Torah he had inherited from an uncle.

Local and federal fire investigators yesterday told a meeting at the Jewish Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit that they were upset with local press coverage of the fire. The press has stated that arson is suspected. The officials said that as of yesterday they had completed sifting through only one-third of the evidence and would not be able to say for several days what caused the fire.

The congregation built the synagogue in 1971 and paid off its mortgage last May.

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