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Congregation Shaarey Zedek Rabbi Emeritus Irwin Groner Dies

The 81-year-old Southfield resident was elected 'Rabbi of the congregation for life' in 1978.

Rabbi Irwin Groner, who served Congregation Shaarey Zedek for more than 50 years, died Dec. 30. He was 81. 

The Detroit News reports Rabbi Groner died at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, due to complications from Parkinson's disease. 

A funeral service will be held Jan. 1, 2 p.m., at Congregation Shaarey Zedek, 27375 Bell Rd., Southfield, with Rabbis Joseph Krakoff, Aaron Starr, Alan Lucas and Cantor Meir Finkelstein officiating. 

According to an obituary published by Ira Kaufman Funeral Home, Rabbi Groner first came to Shaarey Zedek in Detroit in 1959 as an assistant rabbi and was named senior rabbi in 1967. In 1978, he was elected rabbi of the congregation for life, and 25 years later, was granted the title of Rabbi Emeritus.

Rabbi Groner served as President of the Rabbinical Assembly, an international group of rabbis, from 1990-1992, and as chairman of the Governing Board of the "Etz Chayim", the one-volume Torah Commentary that was recently produced for the Conservative Movement by the Rabbinical Assembly and the Jewish Publication Society.

Among many other accomplishments, the obituary lists Rabbi Groner's involvement in metro Detroit's interfaith community and his service as chairman of the Rabbinical Assembly Conventions of 1976 and 1977 and president of the Michigan Board of Rabbis.

In 1984, Michigan Gov. James Blanchard appointed Rabbi Groner as the first clergyman to serve on the State's Judicial Tenure Commission. 

In addition to degrees from the University of Chicago and the Hebrew Theological College of Chicago, where he was ordained, Rabbi Groner received an Honorary Doctorate in 1982 from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.

Rabbi Groner recently published a book, Renewing Jewish Faith. His sermons, essays and articles have been published in periodicals of the Conservative Movement and the Detroit Jewish News.

Rabbi Groner is survived by his wife of 59 years Leypsa Groner; his children Judge David Groner (Judge Amy Hathaway), Dr. Joel Groner; sister Sarah Barach; grandchildren, Lisa, Stephen and Kathryn; and caregiver, Marek Stepniak. He was preceded in death by siblings Rabbi Benjamin Groner, Rabbi Oscar Groner, Julius Groner, Morton Groner and Ruth Rosenbaum; his parents Max and Beatrice Groner; and daughter Deborah "Debbie" Groner.

Memorial contributions may be made to Congregation Shaarey Zedek, Rabbi Irwin Groner Publication Fund, 27375 Bell Road, Southfield, MI 48034, or Frankel Jewish Academy, Debbie Groner Book Fund, 6600 W. Maple Rd., West Bloomfield, MI 48322.

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