12 April 2008

Masschusetts: Jewish history of Lawrence

A flurry of recent articles have focused on the Jewish history of various US towns, in connection with local historical societies and museum exhibits. Family historians, who may now live far from their family' roots, find such stories helpful as they look for additional information.

This one is about Lawrence, Massachusetts, with the local Hadassah chapter taking the lead.

The organization says that although the community is declining, it is important to remember the Jewish history. A Hadassah leader said "This is for those who will come after us, so they know what their roots are. There will always be young people who are wondering what the city was like and they should know what our forefathers did."

LAWRENCE — Jewish roots run deep in Lawrence.

Beginning in the 1870s, many Jewish families arrived in the city from Russia and Poland, soon becoming successful business owners and establishing synagogues and organizations.

Members of the Merrimack Valley chapter of Hadassah want to keep that history alive. The theme of the group's meeting tomorrow is "Rediscovering Our Roots in Lawrence."

"There's a whole rich history in Lawrence that people don't know about," said Sherry Comerchero, coordinator of the Merrimack Valley Jewish Coalition for Literacy. ...

At a brunch, Louise Sandberg, director of the Lawrence Public Library special collections department, highlighted the history of Jews who settled in Greater Lawrence, Haverhill and Lowell.

Jews first settled in the Common, Valley, Concord and Lowell street area and, in the 1920s, began moving to the Tower Hill section.

Congregation Ansha Sholum is the only synagogue in the city and one of New England's oldest. Originally on Lowell Street, both Temple Emanuel and Congregation Tifereth Israel have moved to Andover. The community also built a Jewish Community Center.

Jewish merchants owned dry goods and retail shops including fine men's clothing stores. Two were Kaps (opened in 1902) and Sandlers, both owned by Lithuanian Jews.

The Hadassah chapter, formed in Lawrence in 1925, has 600 members and recently merged with the Haverhill chapter.

Read the complete story for more information.

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