The Rabbi Leo M. Franklin Archives
Temple Beth El, Michigan's first Jewish Congregation, was founded in 1850 when twelve German immigrant families drew together in the home of Isaac and Sarah Cozens to form the Beth El Society. Temple Beth El quickly aligned itself with the Reform Movement in America, and has historically been one of the leading Reform Congregations in the United States. Its members have been prominent in Detroit's commercial, professional, and cultural life, fighting for numerous social causes, and have been the founders of various community organizations, such as the United Jewish Charities of Detroit. Its Sisterhood, a philanthropic organization active in human rights and social causes, is the oldest in Michigan, celebrating its 100th Anniversary in 2001. Temple Beth El celebrated its 150th Anniversary in 2000.
Temple Beth El is home to one of the most comprehensive congregational archives in the nation and the largest such collection in Michigan. The archives is named in memory of Dr. Leo M. Franklin, Temple Beth El's beloved rabbi from 1899-1941 and one of the leading voices of the Reform Movement nationwide. The Archives was founded in 1981 using materials collected by Leo M. Franklin and Irving Katz, noted Jewish Historian and Temple Executive Secretary from 1939 until his death in 1979. It was maintained by congregants Miriam and Aid Kushner until 1997 when the first full-time professional Archivist was hired. The Archives , under its current director Jan Durecki, continues to be strengthened by donations of materials and monetary contributions from individuals and foundations.