Temple Sholom may no longer be there at the corner of Large and Roosevelt Boulevard in Northeast Philadelphia, but its legacy lives on through its former congregation, and its cherished Torah scrolls, which joined Beth Sholom Congregation, in Elkins Park, through a merger eight years ago.
On Sunday, April 29, one of the Temple Sholom Torah scrolls was dedicated to the Jewish residents at Liberty Lutheran’s Paul’s Run Retirement Community in Northeast Philadelphia. This gift was made possible by Beth Sholom Congregation, a Conservative synagogue and National Historic Landmark designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and the efforts of former Temple Sholom congregants, who reside at Paul’s Run.
David Sheinson, 93, his wife, Shirley, 91, along with David’s brother Simon are residents of Paul’s Run Retirement Community and former active members of Temple Sholom. David, a past president of the temple, was the synagogue’s treasurer at the time of its closing and merger with Beth Sholom. Rabbi Andrea Merow, Temple Sholom’s Rabbi for seven years, joined Beth Sholom Congregation upon the merger. The community set up the Temple Sholom Legacy Fund with proceeds from the sale of the synagogue. The Legacy Fund controls the former synagogue’s Torah scrolls and provides scholarships and charitable giving within the synagogue community.
When Rabbi Merow learned through a meeting with David Sheinson and Paul’s Run para-chaplain, Lilian Silverstein, that the retirement community had a significant prayer community, but did not have a full and kosher Torah scroll, she approached the trustees of the Temple Sholom Legacy Fund and board of directors of Beth Sholom, working closely with Arnold Lurie, an executive board member of Beth Sholom and former president of the now closed temple, and asked if they could permanently loan Paul’s Run a Torah. In response, the board was excited to give this scroll back to the Northeast.
“When I think of my seven years at Temple Sholom, I think of the Sheinsons,” says Rabbi Merow. “The fact that this Torah is going back to the Northeast and the Sheinsons is very meaningful. Everyone’s happy.”
Paul’s Run chaplain, Stephen Weisser, knows how meaningful this gift of the Torah is to the residents, since the Torah reading is so central to the Shabbat services that he has added in his tenure as a way of encouraging the spirituality that he knew was there.
“People started coming to the services and that made its own gravity and the weekly service is now very important to our community,” says Weisser. ”Imagine a Lutheran facility in Northeast Philadelphia now helping Jews from Europe and survivors of the Holocaust celebrate Rosh Hashanah, Pesach, and the regular Shabbat service. The Torah is a living document with a history that will outlive all of us, and this gift is a reminder of all of this history and the promise of the future. I am in awe.”
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