By Brian Bateman
Back in 1965, the founding members of Temple Shalom were creating a plan for their new synagogue.
The group of “nomadic members,” as Ken Glazer called it, formed a tight-knit community that year, and it wasn’t long before it took off.
But even Glazer couldn’t have guessed it would be going strong 50 years later.
Scores of members turned out Saturday, Jan. 9, for the 50-year gala, and many had stories to tell of the synagogue.
“It’s been a wonderful 50 years. I don’t think we would have envisioned how wonderful this turned out,” Glazer said.
The night featured dinner, discussion, a short sermon, live music including dueling pianos and introductions of past presidents.
“I know personally how lucky I am to be here and raising my family here,” Rabbi Andrew Paley said in his opening remarks.
In the hallway, Temple Shalom displayed congratulatory letters from Texas Governor Greg Abbott, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, Union of Reform Judaism President Rick Jacobs and former U.S. President Bill Clinton.
The synagogue first came together Oct. 20, 1965, to finalize plans for Temple Shalom — the first new Reform Jewish congregation in Dallas in almost 100 years, according to Temple Shalom. Less than two weeks later, worshippers gathered at SMU for their first service.
Temple Shalom wasn’t approved by the state of Texas until December 1965, and met for the first year at St. Mark’s Chapel — one of several Christian churches that helped Temple Shalom find its feet. St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Ursuline Academy, Northaven Methodist and the Hockaday School all offered aid in different ways.
“The Christian community gave us the facilities until we built this one,” Glazer said.
It took until the next year before Temple Shalom purchased its current 14-acre site at 6930 Alpha Road. It didn’t break ground until 1971, and held its first service at the new facility in September 1972.
During that time, Temple Shalom’s first Rabbi Hirshel Jaffe took to the bimah before leaving in 1969. He never delivered a sermon in the new building, but will get a chance to do just that this week.
Glazer said Saturday night that the Jan. 15 Shabbat service will be a 1960s-themed service, complete with Beatles music and Jaffe giving the sermon.
“It’ll be kind of like it was back in those days,” Glazer said, reflecting on the early congregation.
Temple Emanu-El was essential in the formative stages of Temple Shalom, allowing several staff and clergy to help plant the new congregation.
“We were technically Reform, but we affectionately referred to ourselves as Conservative Reform,” Glazer said. “We were transplanted members.”
The 1960s-70s service will begin at 6 p.m.