Amid Detroit Revival, Rabbi Inaugurates Downtown's Chabad House

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Since the city of Detroit declared bankruptcy last summer, countless stories have been written about how the city is poised for a comeback – and at least one rabbi would appear to agree.

Several weeks ago, Rabbi Yisrael Pinson inaugurated a Chabad house in downtown Detroit in an effort "to reach out to the young Jews engaged in the city’s rebirth," the Detroit News reported last week.

“My argument was that our young people are moving into the city of Detroit,” Pinson told the Detroit News, explaining how the idea for the Jewish community center came to him as far back as four years. “They are starting businesses, renovating homes, and rebuilding the city of Detroit. I felt it was both our responsibility and privilege to be part of that movement."

Pinson, a native of Nice, France, is a fourth-generation rabbi whose family has been involved with Chabad and its mission for decades, and he has lived in Detroit since 2000, according to the local paper.

Detroit's Jewish population numbered in the tens of thousands from the 1940s until the '60s, but most of them left after the 1967 riot.

Pinson, in an article on the website, said there are 60,000 Jews in the Detroit metropolitan area today, mostly outside of the city. “But they have a nostalgic connection and more," Pinson was quoted as saying.

"Families are losing young people to Chicago, New York, Miami," he was quoted as saying. "If they want their kids to stay, then they need to boost up the city. We need to help make the city attractive to young people.”

Meanwhile, Detroit said it would file a plan to emerge from bankruptcy next week, just days before a March 1 deadline.

Detroit filed for bankruptcy last summer, claiming $18 billion in long-term debt. It recently shared a reorganization plan with creditors, although that plan is subject to change while negotiations occur in private.

Foundations and the Detroit Institute of Arts are pledging nearly $500 million to prop up pensions and prevent the sale of city-owned art. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder also wants the state to kick in millions.

Buildings stand in the skyline of Detroit, Michigan, July 2013.Credit: Bloomberg

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