Sunday, March 29, more than 400 people joined together to celebrate the 50th anniversary opening ceremonies at Temple Shalom.
The day began with lunch catered by the Temple Shalom Brotherhood. Guests were led to the Sanctuary by the call of the Shofar by four young and very talented congregants (Ethan Fisher, Grace Enda, Sammy Paley and Dylan Glass). Temple Shalom President Dennis Eichelbaum welcomed the crowd and explained that the vision for the 50th anniversary celebration and the Torah Legacy Project began over 12 months ago.
50th anniversary chairs Harriet and Barry Bell, Kim and Jeff Kort and Beth and Mark Stromberg have worked tirelessly with their subcommittees to organize the opening ceremonies and various celebrations and activities.
The highlight of the day was learning about Temple Shalom’s new Torah Legacy Project. Rabbi Andrew Paley spoke about the importance of Torah and the mitzvah of writing a letter in the Torah. He introduced Rabbi Moshe Druin, the sofer rabbi, who will be helping Temple Shalom congregants write their own Torah.
The theme for this project is “telling our past … writing our future.” Temple Shalom held its first service Friday, Oct. 29, 1965 at SMU’s Perkins Chapel. It received its first Torah, a generous gift from Congregation Shearith Israel, on June 3, 1966.
The seed begins to grow
Temple Shalom’s Choir and Sisterhood were also formed in 1966. On July 1, 1966, Rabbi Hirshel Jaffe assumed the rabbinate and by 1967, Temple Shalom had purchased the 14-acre building site at Hillcrest and Alpha. This empty orchard on the outskirts of town would someday be home to hundreds of congregants.
By 1971, they broke ground and finally held their first Rosh Hashanah service in 1972. The past fifty years brought many changes, new clergy, new faces and growth. As Temple Shalom enters its the fiftieth year, the congregation recognizes the many successes, and accomplishments of their founders, clergy, leaders and volunteers who made it what it is today.
In a fitting tribute to the vision and dedication of the original founders, they were called up to the bimah to collectively scribe the very first letter in Temple Shalom’s new Torah.
During the remainder of the ceremony, five additional letters were scribed. The second letter of honor was given to Bob and Carolee Blumin and their family who have generously sponsored this special Torah, making it possible for every congregant to complete the 613th mitzvah of writing in the Torah!
The third letter was reserved for clergy — Rabbi Andrew Paley, Rabbi Ariel Boxman and Cantor Emeritus Don Croll — who made Temple Shalom the vibrant place that it is today. Current President Dennis Eichelbaum, past presidents and past Volunteers of the Year were also given the honor of scribing the initial letters of the new Torah.
Following the opening ceremonies, 40 member families also performed the mitzvah of writing in the Torah and hundreds of others will be signing up for future dates.
Once completed, this truly will be a unique and very personal Torah for the congregation of Temple Shalom!
Passing on its legacy
As part of the anniversary, and in the spirit of l’dor v’dor, Temple Shalom will gift one of its existing scrolls to a new sister congregation somewhere in the world — just as Congregation Shearith Israel so generously did 50 years ago. Cantor Emeritus Don Croll is leading a group of volunteers who will identify the receiving congregation.
“This opening ceremony was just the beginning of the celebration. Throughout the year, there will be special worship experiences, displays, tikkun olam projects, a concert and of course our Gala Celebration on Jan. 8,” explained Temple Shalom President Dennis Eichelbaum. “Finally, we will conclude this incredible year by opening our time capsule and burying a new time capsule for our 100th anniversary.”