Leonard Baruch

Leonard Baruch spoke of the rabbi’s influence on young people. Baruch was youth director in 1966 and was with teen members of the junior congregation at Tamarack Camps with Rabbi Irwin Groner when Rabbi Adler was shot on the bimah during Shabbat services by a mentally ill young shul member. “The teens saw Rabbi Adler as a vital, important person,” Baruch said. “He made sure they had an impression of Judaism. He [regularly] selected a young person to come to the board room to hear him speak. “We would not be what we are without Rabbi Adler,” Baruch said. “He is indelibly in my mind. You saw somebody important, you heard him and you acted on that. He is sorely missed. Those who knew him can never, ever forget him.”

Jeremy Benstein


Bernard Cantor

Bernard Cantor was part of the Men’s Club Kibbutz and remembers Rabbi Adler’s remarkable sense of humor. He particularly recalls hearing of the rabbi’s wartime experience as an Army chaplain during World War II. “He was the only Jewish chaplain in Japan, and he got a written order to come see Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who had taken over the emperor’s palace,” Cantor said. “The rabbi went into a huge ballroom and, at the end behind an enormous desk, was MacArthur. The rabbi told us, ‘I was going to salute, but couldn’t remember which hand, so I used my left.’ “MacArthur told him, ‘In the Japanese religion, their God was the emperor, and we have destroyed their God. They need a religion. We are considered a Christian religion and that is not acceptable.” According to Cantor’s recollection of the rabbi’s story, MacArthur wanted him to convert the Japanese to Judaism. When they rabbi protested that Jews didn’t do this sort of thing, MacArthur told him, “In this case, you do.” He didn’t.

Sharon Fleischman

Sharon Fleischman recalled that the Adlers were in Israel on sabbatical when she and Marvin wanted to set a wedding date. “My mother called Goldie [Adler] and told her we wanted a Passover wedding,” she said. “The rabbi came home from Israel to marry us. It’s been 60 years — it took pretty well.”

Barbara Kratchman

“Judaism came alive for me because of Rabbi Adler,” said Barbara Kratchman. “I took two classes from him — comparative religion and Perkei Avot, and they have remained in my heart.”

Karen Keidan Meyerson

Karen Keidan Meyerson was 14 and in Shabbat services with her father, Herbert, when Rabbi Adler was shot. “Rabbi Adler gave incredible sermons; they were enriching,” she said. “I would ask my dad what some of the words meant, while I braided the strings on his tallit. “When the rabbi was shot, that was the first time I saw pandemonium. Things were very out of control, yet many people did resourceful things. My father called the police from the cloak room. It was very traumatic because this was a place to feel comfortable and safe. “This has impacted us all beyond his death and has made people really evaluate all he did in their lives,” Meyerson said. “Everyone felt they were special to him. There was no delineation — just warmth, wisdom and availability, all effortlessly. “We valued him, and something is definitely missing with his death.”

Myron Milgrom

Myron Milgrom recalled the rabbi was very much in demand as a speaker for secular organizations in Detroit. “I went to see him at Cobo Hall and I remember the impact he had on the audience, which gave him a standing ovation,” he said. “I walked up to him afterward and he asked me where I was going. He said, “Come to my house. Goldie made some schnecken [sweet buns] and we’ll schmooze.’ I got home at 2 a.m. It was very memorable and highlighted the kind of person he was.” Milgrom also recalled when a bust of Chaim Weitzmann was being sold by a local gallery. The shul’s art commission wanted to buy it for the synagogue. The cost was $4,000. “The rabbi took out his checkbook and wrote us a check for $100 and said, ‘Now get 40 more.’ He wanted to include the membership and not just call Max Fisher or Lou Berry [to cover the cost.] We got the money.”

Mark Slobin

Rabbi Adler and his wife were friends of my parents, Norval and Judith Slobin. I remember them saying that the way they would find Jews when traveling in Europe in the early postwar years was to stage an argument in the train station, in Yiddish. Invevitably, a local person would get engaged and then they could make contact with the community. I knew the killer, Richard Wishnetsky, a bit through my social circle and found him an obsessive, Dostoyevskian character; remarkable and tragic that he lived out his novelistic fantasies in such a dreadful way.

Lee Smith

Lee Smith recalled the rabbi saying to the architect, “What do you have for me to look at?” Smith explained that’s why there is stained glass above the sanctuary doors.

Sue Smith

“I remember when I was in consecration class, and the rabbi was clean-shaven,” she said. “Then he had whiskers and then, all of a sudden, he had a beard. I told him he looked like a beatnik or a hippy and that he should shave it off. But he said he’d leave it for a while. “I loved him to pieces,” she said. “My heart still hurts.” Sue Smith has been at Shaarey Zedek since she was in the fourth grade.

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