Monday, February 20, 2012

Meeting at Ligonier Public Library

On Saturday, I met with the Ligonier Public Library committee. I reviewed two presentations from last year about the museum concept and proposal and I also discussed possible grant opportunities for professionals to provide structural stability studies on the synagogue building. Upon further discussion, I found out that the building is actually endangered. The roof needs to be repaired, the stained glass windows are bowing, the basement has water leaks, and the bricks and masonry need tuck-pointing. Now it is even more important that we employ the help of these professionals to help us determine the actual needs of the building. If you are familiar with the building and know of any other structural issues, can you please discuss this on the "discussion board" tab of this site? All thoughts are appreciated!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Sundays at Sinai, a new book by Tobias Brinkmann

I am anxiously awaiting the new book by Tobias Brinkmann at Penn State, entitled Sundays at Sinai. I am hoping that Brinkmann's book will provide a model to tell the story of Ahavas Sholom.

Here's what U. Chicago Press has to say about the new gem they are publishing this summer:

First established 150 years ago, Chicago Sinai is one of America’s oldest Reform Jewish congregations. Its founders were upwardly mobile and civically committed men and women, founders and partners of banks and landmark businesses like Hart Schaffner & Marx, Sears & Roebuck, and the giant meatpacking firm Morris & Co. As explicitly modern Jews, Sinai’s members supported and led civic institutions and participated actively in Chicago politics. Perhaps most radically, their Sunday services, introduced in 1874 and still celebrated today, became a hallmark of the congregation.

In Sundays at Sinai, Tobias Brinkmann brings modern Jewish history, immigration, urban history, and religious history together to trace the roots of radical Reform Judaism from across the Atlantic to this rapidly growing American metropolis.  Brinkmann shines a light on the development of an urban reform congregation, illuminating Chicago Sinai’s practices and history, and its contribution to Christian-Jewish dialogue in the United States. Chronicling Chicago Sinai’s radical beginnings in antebellum Chicago to the present, Sundays at Sinai is the extraordinary story of a leading Jewish Reform congregation in one of America’s great cities.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

A visit to the American Jewish Archives

On Thursday of this week, I took a 2 hour drive to Cincinnati to visit the American Jewish Archives (AJA) at Hebrew Union College. The Ahavath Scholom congregation files are held here and I wanted to take a look. Well, the first thing I found out was that the congregation actually spelled their name "Ahavas Sholom." I first noticed a discrepancy in the spelling over a year ago when I recognized the differences between what was listed in the National Registry of Historic Places, what the Auditor's website lists, and what the synagogue is commonly referred to in Ligonier. For my purposes, I am going to go by the historical documents. This is prompting me to do a bit of name replacing on the blog as well as in my grant materials that are being sent out next month.

The Ahavas Sholom folio at AJA (1890-1935)
The majority of the Ahavas Sholom holdings at AJA were compiled for the Ligonier centennial in 1935. There were about 200 pieces of paper included in this folder and I took digital photos of every piece. The setting was perfect actually.  I grabbed a table that had sunlight pouring in- and in this way, I think I was able to capture some wonderful details of the documents.

Upon first glance, it looks as if the documents are primarily synagogue meeting minutes and recordings of donation amounts by various families. There were also a few invoices and receipts from vendors who must have worked with the congregation on projects for the synagogue and cemetery.

Now that I've taken all the photos- it's time to get down to work and actually READ! I can't wait to see what treasures are hidden in the folder and when I do uncover them, I will be sure to post the findings here.