The Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue (IADS) was established in 1921, at a time when there were many synagogues located in Detroit.
Its principal mission was to address the unmet needs of the Jewish community, particularly for those who worked downtown, were unaffiliated with another synagogue, or were visiting the city, by providing an egalitarian Jewish presence, rooted in tradition, in the heart of Detroit. Membership dues were optional and continue to be minimal. The basic cost of maintaining the Synagogue was underwritten by a Memorial Society established in memory of Isaac Agree.
In addition to providing daily, Sabbath, and holiday services – principally but not exclusively for those saying kaddish or observing Yahrzeit, IADS offered High Holiday Services, free and without obligation, for the entire Jewish community of metropolitan Detroit. These services were and continue to be attended by many hundreds seeking a place to worship on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. In short, one of IADS’s principal missions has always been to provide an accessible and open space of worship and celebration for everyone.
As much of the Jewish community migrated to suburban Detroit, IADS, like the city itself, has suffered from a shrinking population and a depletion of resources. In recent years, daily services have, of necessity, been eliminated. However, the Downtown Synagogue proudly continues to offer weekly Sabbath services, as well as High Holiday services, the latter of which attracts hundreds of worshipers.
The Synagogue is currently housed in a historic four-story building, a building that it has occupied and owned since the early 1960s. Located at 1457 Griswold Street, it is well situated, but is in serious need of major repair. Currently, parts of it are unusable. However, the unique triangular design creates an incomparable, interesting space. The potential for this building is far from being realized.
As the last remaining free-standing synagogue in Detroit, IADS is currently revitalizing itself. In 2008, the Synagogue elected a new Board of Trustees, and has since expanded programming, re-established committees, and is aggressively seeking funds to assure its continued existence.
For more reading on our history, you can view the full article from the Jewish Historical Society of Michigan. (Starts on page 37).