Ma'avar: Support for Synagogues in Transition

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.

[email protected] for info and inquiries.


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.

Rabbi’s Sacred Belongings

The family of Rabbi Earl Grollman, z"l, most recently the rabbi of Temple Beth El Center in Belmont, Massachusetts, has made some personal items from his career available to interested congregations.


  • 3 robes (2 black, one white)

  • A scroll of Sefer Yehoshua (The Book of Joshua), measuring 28 inches with the handles and 22 inches without the handles. Its provenance is unknown. Note: one of the handles needs repair.


The family wishes to commemorate Rabbi Grollman’s career by donating these items to congregations that really need them (possibly a newer congregation). The decisions about these rest entirely with the family, who ask only that the Torah be dedicated to him (perhaps with a special cover and a dedication ceremony).

Contact [email protected]

Congregation Or Atid (Wayland) has the following items for donation
  • 100+ Rabbinical Assembly Machzors (copyright 1972)

  • 100+ Silverman Machzors (copyright 1951, printing 1968)

  • Handicap Lift The lift is free standing and is not plug in. It has wheels so it can be pushed up to a step and be manually cranked to a height even with the needed platform/level.


Requests for information and for donation may be sent to [email protected]


Please address inquiries about the ner tamid, stained glass or coffee urn to Reva Castaline, [email protected]

Coffee Pot 1.jpg


A metal piece,  22 1/2" x 14 1/2 ". 


Bunn model 06325.0001 Coffee Urn for restaurant or commercial kitchen use.
In very good , nearly new condition,
Asking $1500.
Installation & Operating Guide plus Service Manual included
Manufacturer's web site has details:


Three stained glass windows (Below):  

Installations One and Two were created by Andrea Scholes (now deceased) of Scholes Stained Glass Studio Fall River, MA. The Creation window was likely created in 1997 with the holiday windows perhaps the next year.

Installation One.JPG

Installation One

Two windows of 43 pieces each with 3 columns of 14-15-14 pieces approximately 3’ wide and 16’ tall – left and right columns x 17.5’ tall middle colum

At night, with interior sanctuary lights on, the flowers in these windows become opaque and are set off from the rest of the window.

Installation  Two.JPG

Installation Two


Three holiday themed windows representing the holidays of Sukkot, Shavuot, and Passover. Each has 13 pieces with 3 columns of 4-5-4 pieces approximately 3.5’ wide and 7.5’ tall

Installation Three.JPG

Installation Three

Window depicting the seven days of creation. 24 pieces in 7 columns of alternating 3 and 4 pieces approximately 13’ wide and 8’ tall. 

Etched in the windows are the animals created on each day of creation. At night, when interior lights were on in chapel, these etched items become visible. During the daylight they are not truly visible.



Temple Kol Tikvah of Sharon has a Sefer Torah that the congregation wishes to sell. The height of the scroll is 24" with approx 3" margin.

Please contact Rabbi Randy Kafka, [email protected].


Congregation Ahavath Sholom in Great Barrington is seeking an additional Yahrtzeit memorial board. Anyone with information to share, please contact Dan Burkhard.

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.

KTM Aron Kodesh.png

Montefiore Synagogue, Lowell

Montefiore Synagogue was the oldest synagogue in Lowell. It has downsized and relocated to Pelham, NH.  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 majority of the furnishings have been re-homed, but the torah reading tables are still available. 

If you are interested in the tables, please call Colleen at 978-204-8188.

Reading Tables

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.


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
[email protected].

Temple Kol Tikvah, Sharon

Torah (for sale)

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

Please contact Rabbi Randy Kafka, [email protected].

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