Thursday, March 21, 2013

USA: Parkersburg, West Virginia Synagogue to Close

USA: Parkersburg, West Virginia Synagogue to Close

Julian H. Preisler, historian of Jewish West Virginia, refers us to an article in the Parkersburg News and Sentinel (March 16, 2013) that reports that Temple B'nai Israel in Parkersburg will soon sell its building. The congregation, founded in 1909, has become to small to maintain the small Temple, which was built in 1949 in a modern style with roots in pre-War Art Deco and Art Moderne design.  For a picture click here.

According to the article, Robert Beau Ellison, treasurer of  B'nai Israel, said the building will be listed for sale this spring. "We are down to just a very limited number of Jewish families in town who are members of the temple," ...It's not as much a cost issue as it is a people issue. In order to maintain the building and keep everything going, you have to have enough people to do things. We just have limited people to draw from."

The situation at Parkersburg is a familiar one throughout smaller communities, especially in the South and mid-West.  

According to the Temple website "As of 2011, there were 15+ families who were affiliated with the Temple compared to 170 in the 1970's.  While there are other Jews in the area, they have not joined this Temple community.  The future of the Temple building is in question because of the lack of funds to maintain it.  Discussion with the Jewish Legacy Project has begun about what to do when the last member of the Temple leaves the area.  Alternative meeting sites are being reviewed. The heritage and history of this community will be preserved.

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