14 August 2008

Connecticut: Beth Israel reaches century mark

Wallingford's Beth Israel congregation turns 100 this month and it was a bit of a surprise to members, according to this story.

The North Orchard Street synagogue was dedicated August 23, 1908, according to the Record-Journal archives; a reporter called the date to the attention of the congregation, which has about 50 families.

After some sleuthing, the newspaper and the synagogue archives found the building goes back further, as far back as 1901. After a flood damaged the structure in the 1960s, a new and larger building was built on the foundations of the old one.
Henrietta Stolzman, one of the congregation's oldest members, remembers - because her first husband, Walter Fried, helped design and build the new synagogue.
Over the years, Stolzman has seen the congregation itself grow and change from Orthodox to Conservative to its current "very conservative" interpretation of Judaism.
She has also seen other synagogues and congregations in the area come and go, but Stolzman keeps coming back because, she says, Congregation Beth Israel and its synagogue have become a part of her life:
Through the years we've seen the congregation grow and dwindle down, but I keep coming because it's a part of my culture and my family history."
Read the complete article at the link above for more details.

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