Religious Leaders of the Boston-Edison Historic District

Rabbi Morris Adler

Morris Adler, the son of a Rabbi, was born in Russia and came to the United States as a boy in 1913. He served in Buffalo and then in 1938, accepted the pulpit of Shaare Zedek in Detroit. Except for a stint in the US Army in WWII, Adler stayed with Shaare Zedek for the rest of his life. During his tenure, the congregation grew to one of the largest in the world. Adler was a good friend of Walter Reuther, and as a chairman of the Public Review Board of the United Auto Workers. In 1966, Adler was killed during Sabbath service in his synagogue by a mentally ill youth. Morris Adler lived at 2062 Edison in the 1950s.

Rev. Henry Hitt Crane

Henry Hitt Crane was born in Illinois, and completed his theological education in Boston in 1916. He served as a chaplain in WWI, an experience which prompted him to become a pacifist. He had a reputation as an excellent public speaker, and served in a number of large Methodist churches. In 1938, Crane came to Detroit to become minister of the Central Methodist Church, a position which he held for twenty years. In addition to his pacifism, Crane was a leading supporter of racial equality, civil liberties, and workers' rights. Henry Hitt Crane lived at 671 Edison from the late 1940s though the 1970s.

Rabbi Leo M. Franklin

Rabbi Leo M. Franklin

Leo M. Franklin was born in 1870 and ordained in 1892 by the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati. He served as rabbi of Congregation Temple Israel from 1892-1899, where he gained a reputation as an eloquent and idealistic preacher. In 1899, he began his career as Rabbi of Temple Beth El, a post he held until 1941. Temple Beth El was Michigan's first Jewish congregation, founded in 1850, and Franklin was the eleventh rabbi to serve. Franklin, however, set out to revitalize Judaism in his congregation. He is credited with inspiring congregational participation and turning the small Temple into a thriving organization. He organized the children's choir, the children's Sabbath morning service, Bible classes for young people, a Women's Auxiliary, a Young People's Society, and the publication of a regular Temple Bulletin.

Rabbi Franklin's activities were not confined to the pulpit. He was the Jewish Ambassador to the community. He oversaw the organization of United Jewish Charities, Detroit's first umbrella philanthropic group. His philosophy was a reflection of the classic goals of classical Reform Judaism: to integrate Jews into the American Community, so that they might be considered as Americans who believe in and practice the Jewish Faith. He was a good friend of his neighbor Henry Ford, who earlier in life had been anti-Semitic, and greatly influenced Ford's thinking.

Rabbi Leo M. Franklin lived at 26 Edison from the early 1910s until his death in 1948.

Bishop Marshall R. Reed

Bishop Marshall R. Reed

Marshall R. Reed was born in 1891 in Onsted, Michigan. He was ordained a Deacon of the Methodist Church in 1917 and an Elder in 1918. Reed served as the pastor of various Methodist churches in Michigan for the next 30 years. In 1948, Reed was appointed Bishop of Detroit, a post where he served until 1964. Marshall R. Reed lived at 2224 W. Boston Boulevard during his tenure as Bishop of Detroit. He passed away in 1973.

Rev. Joseph L. Roberts Sr.

Rev. Joseph L. Roberts Sr. was the pastor of the Bethel AME Church in Detroit. He served as the president of the Connectional Council of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1964, Roberts was elected president of the Detroit Council of Churches, the first black pastor to be elected to the position. Rev. Joseph L. Roberts Sr. lived at 641 Edison in the 1950s.


Rev. Joseph L. Roberts Jr.

Rev. Joseph L. Roberts Jr.

Rev. Joseph L. Roberts Jr. attended Knoxville College and the Union Theological Seminary in New York City; after graduation he served as pastor of the Weequahic Presbyterian Church in Newark, NJ in 1959. He later served at the Elmwood Presbyterian Chirch in East Orange, NJ, and resigned in 1970 to become the director of the Division of Corporate and Social Mission of the Presbyterian Church in the United States, one of the top five positions in the organization. In 1975, Roberts became the seventh pastor of the Ebeneezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, taking the reins from Rev. Martin Luther King Sr. Roberts led the church for 30 years, until 2005. Rev. Joseph L. Roberts Jr. lived at 641 Edison with his father, Rev. Joseph L. Roberts Sr., in the early 1950s.