Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Indiana Historical Marker Dedicated!

This past labor day, about 75-100 people gathered at Ahavath Sholom to dedicate an Indiana Historical marker. This marker was the result of almost two years of fundraising, researching, and writing and it was all worth it. The Ligonier Historical Society got a 125th birthday cake for the 1889 Ahavath Sholom synagogue building, we had a silent auction and period liturgical music playing in the background, and yours truly gave an architectural building tour! While it was swelteringly hot, the mayor of Ligonier came to celebrate with us as we dedicated the marker and read a poem that was read during the dedication of the building, 125 years ago. 

Below is the text of the marker that is cast aluminum, powder-coated blue with gold-lettering.

Side 1:
German Jews immigrated to the U.S. in greater numbers starting in the 1850s. In the 1860s,
Ligonier’s Jewish residents formed the congregation Ahavath Sholom (Hebrew for “peace loving”) and circa 1867, built a small synagogue nearby. The congregation formed close relationships with local churches. The Jewish community prospered, providing civic and business leaders.

Side 2:
In 1889, the congregation dedicated a new synagogue here. Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise, founder of American Reform Judaism, spoke on religious tolerance at the dedication; the celebration included people from other cities and states. Jewish population peaked around 1900, later declining as younger residents moved to larger cities for educational and economic opportunities.

Credit Line:
Installed 2014 Indiana Historical Bureau, Ligonier Historical Society, Ligonier Public Library, and Indiana Jewish Federation Friends of Ahavath Sholom. 

If there had been more space on the sign, we would have loved to individually list the names of our generous donors whose excitement and monetary contributions made the marker possible: the Jewish Federation of Northwest Indiana; the Jewish Federation of Fort Wayne; the Jewish Federation of Greater Indianapolis; the Jewish Federation of St. Joseph Valley in South Bend; and the Michiana Jewish Historical Society.