Congregation Beth El
In 1850 twelve German immigrant families founded Michigan's oldest Jewish organization, the Beth El Society, at the Detroit home of Isaac and Sarah Cozens. Beth El was first led by Orthodox Rabbi Samuel Marcus. During the 1850s, as social and political turmoil gripped the nation, Judaism faced change. In 1856, Beth El members moved away from strict Orthodox doctrine by adopting new bylaws and embracing Reform Judaism. The changes permitted men and women to sit together during services and sing together in choirs. Rabbis taught service in English rather than German. In 1873, Beth El helped charter the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, which brought together Reform synagogues across the nation.