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Hancock synagogue fundraiser under way

June 19, 2012
By KURT HAUGLIE , Houghton Daily Mining Gazette

HANCOCK - The congregation of Temple Jacob on M-26 in Hancock is hoping to raise $75,000 to renovate the building in time for the synagogue's centennial celebration in August.

Congregation President Susan Burack said the money raised will be used for such projects as roof and plumbing repair and repair of the steps leading up to the front of the building.

"It's a preservation fund for ... the building," she said.

Article Photos

Susan Burack, president of the Temple Jacob congregation, looks up at the front of the building recently from the sidewalk along M-26 in Hancock. The congregation is conducting a fundraising effort for preservation and maintenance of the 100-year-old building. (Houghton Daily Mining Gazette photo by Kurt Hauglie)

However, since the building is 100 years old, Burack said it could probably be in much worse condition.

"It's remarkable it's as wonderful as it is," she said.

The fundraising campaign began last winter and Burack said $50,000 toward the desired $75,000 has been raised.

"We started planning a year ago, but the campaign started earlier this year," she said. "People from all over the country and as far away as Australia have responded."

The largest donation so far came from Willard and Lois Cohodas of Marquette who donated $5,000, Burack said. Willard Cohodas, who is a businessman, was born and raised in Hancock.

The preservation fund was established in 1986 for the building's 75th anniversary, Burack said.

The building is unique in the country, Burack said.

"It's the only active synagogue on the National Register (of Historic Places)," she said.

Although Temple Jacob has no resident rabbi, Burack said Rabbi Steve Mills of Cleveland comes to Hancock for the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. On June 23 and Aug. 25, he'll come for two bar mitzvahs. He'll also come for the centennial celebration from Aug. 9 to 12.

Just because they don't have a resident rabbi, Burack said that doesn't mean the members don't have observances during the year.

"Without a rabbi, we're a do-it-yourself congregation," she said.

Burack said she's hoping faculty and staff at Michigan Tech University will take part in the fundraising effort because without the presence of Temple Jacob, many current Jewish faculty members may not have accepted positions at Tech. The synagogue is used by Tech students, also.

Burack said many people who have visited the Hancock/Houghton area and visited Temple Jacob find a special connection to the synagogue.

"We have one guy who is coming from Florida because he wants to see where his father came from," she said. "This is kind of a spiritual home."

Burack said the support from the approximately 40-member congregation isn't enough to keep it running, so regular donations are needed.

"There are people everywhere who generously help to keep us going every year," she said.

Donations to the Temple Jacob Preservation Fund can be sent to P.O. Box 273, Hancock, MI 49930. The congregation is also offering a pack of 12 note cards made with photographs of the synagogue for $36, which can purchased by calling Burack at 482-3270.



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