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The Jewish Community Center

“Temple B'nai Israel Conservative members still usher in the Festival of Passover with special services at 6:45 tonight at the Jewish Community Center. Rabbi Joseph Katz, Temple spiritual director. and Cantor Martin Glancz will officiate.”

-The Saginaw News, April 17, 1954

On October 19, 1952, ground was broken for a new Jewish Community Center. Located on the southeast corner of South Washington and East Holland, the new facility was designed by the Saginaw firm of Frantz and Spence – original drawings for the building are preserved in the Castle Museum’s collection.

Plans for the new building were detailed in the paper:

The portion of the Center to be built now will be in an “L” shape. Its frontage on Washington will be 58 feet and its depth 90 feet. But at the rear, the building will be 103 feet in width. At the front it will be one story in height, but at the east end it will be two stories, conforming to the contour of the land as it falls away toward the Grand Trunk Railway tracks which form the eastern boundary. Most of the rear portion of the building will be devoted to classrooms, on ground floor and first floor levels. These will be for religious instruction of the Jewish young folk. There will be well-equipped kitchens, and the front part of the structure will provide a general meeting place for community gathering.

Construction will be of brick and stone.

The front of the building will be set back 50 feet from the Washington Avenue sidewalk line, thus avoiding destruction of some of the trees on the site, and also making it conform generally with the parklike nature of the neighboring front-age.

-The Saginaw News, October 10, 1952, p.3

Above: The Jewish Community Center was sited to preserve the mature trees gracing the site.

Planning for the facility had started almost a decade earlier. One of the most important considerations had been the location of the site. Centrally located within the city, it was also convenient to the members living in Saginaw’s growing suburbs. When conceived, the building had been planned for expansion, In 1964 an addition to the Center replaced Temple B’nai Israel’s 1913 home on South Second. The mid-century modern building became a Saginaw Landmark. (for a photograph of the 1913 Temple - see yesterday’s featured artifact.)

Above: B’nai Israel was charted on September 27, 1890. Prior to the construction of the temple on South Second Street in 1913, the congregation met in various locations. For many years they met in a hall in the Baumgarten Building on the corner of East Genesee and Park.

Above: Members of the Temple B’nai Israel Sister in the Jewish Community Center Kitchen preparing food for the popular antique show held at the Center.

In response to declining membership, the congregation merged to become part of Temple Beth Israel in Bay City. The building on the corner of South Washington and east Genesee was sold and demolished.

For more history on the history Temple B’nai Israel:

The Recipe: Carrot Tzimmes

From the Kitchens of Our Mothers

This week’s recipe is out of From The Kitchens of Our Mothers. Featuring recipes from members of the local Hadassah Chapter, during the 1970s this cookbook was available in a small gift shop at Temple B’nai Israel.

1 bunch tender, medium carrots

1/8 cup oil

honey to taste

1/4 cup raisins


1 - 2 tbsps. flour


Cut carrots into thin slices. Sauté carrots lightly in oil. Add 1/4 cup of water and let simmer until carrots are almost soft. Add pinch of salt, honey, and raisins. Add another 1/4 cup water. Simmer and thicken by adding flour. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Simmer a few more minutes.


“Tzimmes in Yiddish means ‘a big fuss.’ It’s also the name of this traditional Jewish Ashkenazi dish of stewed root vegetables and fruits. To make a big tzimmes in the kitchen might refer to the big fuss needed to prepare and cook this stew, but it’s actually not so much work and the results are totally worth it.”*

As always, the test kitchen staff tried much too hard to select tender medium-sized carrots - larger carrots would have worked fine.

Although the test kitchen found the results satisfactory, we were not completely satisfied with the way the flour was absorbed into the mixture. We would recommend adding the flour slowly – and probably adding less than a tablespoon.


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