The Beit Kodesh synagogue in Livonia shuttered its doors for the last time on Wednesday. Believed to have been the last remaining Conservative Jewish center in western Wayen County, Beit Kodesh fell victim to aging membership and rising costs.
"We've always referred to ourselves as a house of miracles because it's a miracle we lasted as long as we did," Phyllis Lewkowicz, a founding member and past president, said to the Detroit News.
After the final service on October 29, congregation members gathered to clear out the space. "It's heart-wrenching to leave," said Sally Stein, the congregation’s last president, to the Detroit Free Press. "It's not easy. I've been here my entire life."
Detroit’s Jewish population is second only to Florida’s in age, according to the Jewish Population Study. Not many Jews lived in Livonia and greater Western Wayne, so the synagogue formed the focal point of the community.
"We were the little neighborhood shul," Stein said. "It was a true family."
Beit Kodesh was founded in 1958, and held services in a farmhouse and a church before settling on Seven Mile Road. At its peak, the synagogue served 100 families, but membership dropped to 46 in recent years. When the lease came up and the congregation could no longer afford a full time rabbi, temple leadership chose to close.
"The fact that this small congregation managed to keep its doors open as long as it did is a success story," Rabbi Jason Miller of Farmington Hills explained to Detroit Free Press. They were "the little shul that could."