Ma'avar

Support for Synagogues in Transition
Contact info@synagoguecouncil.org for info and inquiries.

Established in 2016, Maavar offers a suite of services to congregations that are closing, merging, expanding, or facing other major changes. Our first and notable success was in finding homes for the sacred objects from the Tifereth Israel synagogue in Revere, especially the classic carved 1916 Ark that was newly dedicated in December 2017 in the Beit Midrash Chapel at Shir Tikva, Wayland.

CONSIDERATIONS FOR CLOSING A SYNAGOGUE OR MERGING CONGREGATIONS

By Carol Clingan

 

The closing or merger of synagogues is as old as the split of one congregation into two; this is an inevitable part of Jewish history.  Nonetheless, the closing of a synagogue is a traumatic event for those involved, from the founders to their descendants who have to make a difficult and painful decision.

 

When synagogues do close or merge, usually due to changing demographics and dwindling membership, a large number of issues emerge.  These include:

  • The emotional trauma of losing a longtime “home” and repository of memories

  • The difficulties of navigating a common path for differing cultures and practices

  • The question of who shall be the rabbi(s) and officer(s) of the successor organization

  • The saving or disposal of physical records (membership rolls, minutes, photos, bulletins/newsletters, etc)

  • The saving of sacred objects (Torahs, yahrzeit plaques, art and other Judaica)

In addition, new congregations are emerging in non-traditional settings, and may be hard pressed to acquire some of the basic synagogue ritual objects, Judaica, furniture, books.

A variety of steps are recommended:

  • Incorporating the name of the closing synagogue into the existing one

  • Mounting the yahrzeit plaques in the new home and ensuring that yahrzeits are observed by the lights and whatever list is read out/ published every week or every month

  • Create a display about the history and people of the closing congregation—with of photos, old newsletters, newspaper clippings, list of founders, list of past presidents—and give it a permanent place in the new shul., either in the room outside the sanctuary or in the sanctuary itself or perhaps in the school

  • Offer this display or a version of it to the local historical society to document the important Jewish presence in the town

  • Try to ensure that various sacred objects, e.g., menorah, parochet, Torah covers, yad—be used in the new home

  • Donate any synagogue records to Wyner Center in Boston , where they preserve synagogue records and digitize them to make them available

  • Donate your torah(s) with proviso for naming in memory of your congregation, or to an institutions, with same naming provision with special meaning to your congregation

  • Have a big party for current, past members and their families

Find a good place to donate your net proceeds

 

As the only transdenominational statewide organization for synagogues in Massachusetts, the Synagogue Council has developed a number of resources for congregations facing these challenges.  These include Maavar, a volunteer-run program that seeks to find homes for sacred objects, and both staff and board members who are knowledgeable about synagogue organizations.

Avaialable for purchase from Congregation Beth El of Sudbury

Temple Beth El of Sudbury is looking for a new home for a beautiful wooden

shtender/amud/Torah table. 

 

It is solid wood and is height adjustable, making it user friendly for both shorter and

wheelchair-using people.  Dimensions are 60” wide, 34” deep, and 38-45” high. 

It is available for immediate pickup. 

 

Anyone interested please email

 secretary@bethelsudbury.org. 

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Congregation Kadimah-Toras Moshe, Brighton

Hundred-year-old traditional carved wooden Aron Kodesh (holy ark) is being offered by Congregation Kadimah-Toras Moshe in Brighton, which cannot use it in its new building. 

The ark came from Torah Moshe’s original home in Roxbury and is typical of arks of that period.  The same ark was used in many local congregations, often for their second sanctuary, or minyan, space, and probably came from a catalogue.  The gold and white paint is not, of course, original, and probably could be stripped off to restore the ark to its original beauty. 

If you might provide a home for this ark, please contact Tamar King at  (617) 787-5569 or 617 331-4599.

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Montefiore Synagogue, Lowell

Montefiore Synagogue is the oldest synagogue in Lowell and is closing after more than a century.  Founded in 1896 as Montefiore Brotherhood Synagogue, the present congregation is the result of a merger with another turn-of-the-century congregation, Anshe Sfard.  The new combined congregation moved into a new building in 1971, accounting for the remarkably coordinated and modern design of its sacred space.  Especially striking are the beautifully carved arks and surrounds and the use of mosaic.

The furnishings below are available as a package, for a new or remodeling congregation, or on an item-by-item basis.

If you are interested in any of Montefiore’s items, please call Colleen at 978-204-8188

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Ark (Main Sanctuary)
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Sanctuary Surrounds to Ark
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Mechitza Dividers
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Torah Stand
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Small Ark
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Mosaic
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Ner Tamid
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Tallis Stand
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Reading Tables
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Wall Art
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Menorah
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Congregation Beth Israel, Worcester

NO LONGER AVAILABLE: Wooden Ark with interior shelves and Torah fittings. From Congregation Beth Israel in Worcester, which is renovating its sanctuary.    
 
Wooden Ark

91” wide,  111” high and 18” deep 

Has interior shelves and Torah fittings

Temple Beth Am, Randolph

Temple Beth Am, Randolph has moved to a new home in Canton.
These items are NO LONGER AVAILABLE. 
Display case for Holocaust Torah
or other important scroll

It is 109 inches high and 5 feet wide. 

It opens from the back, and has brackets for

holding a torah up and open.

Menorah

They cannot take this beautiful brass menorah with them.

It is 37 inches across at its widest point, and 51 inches from the lower tip to the top of the middle candle.

Lectern (No Picture) with Large Star of David

42 inches high, 32 inches deep, 20 inches wide plus two fold-down of one foot each

Torah Stand

Signs of Our Past

A number of years ago Rabbi Michael Strassfeld began collecting signs from synagogues and other Jewish institutions that are closing. These signs reflect the story of American Jewry over the past 100 years. They range from lists of members in study groups to proper synagogue etiquette to matters related to money. It is a preservation project because most of these signs would end up in a dumpster. In the last few years Rabbi Strassfeld has found signs from Quincy, Springfield and Revere. The biggest challenge is finding out about synagogue's closing. Please let Rabbi Michael Strassfeld know if you hear of any Jewish institutions closing at
mjstrassfeld@gmail.com.

Temple Kol Tikvah, Sharon

Torah (for sale)

The height of the scroll is 24" with approx 3" margin.

Please contact Rabbi Randy Kafka, rkafka613@gmail.com.

View the listing of books that need to find a home on our Bookshelf Page.