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Temple Sholom In Greenwich Heralds In 100th Year With Centennial Torah

Rabbi Michell M. Hurvitz
Rabbi Michell M. Hurvitz Photo Credit: Contributed

GREENWICH, Conn. —Temple Sholom’s membership has swelled from just 10 Jewish families in 1916 to 660 households today.

To celebrate its upcoming centennial year — 2016 — the Greenwich temple is marking the occasion with special programs and events, while remembering its humble roots.

One way the temple is celebrating its 100th year is creating a centennial Torah. (A Torah is a long scroll that contains the first five books of the Bible.)

“It’s an empowering initiative for the kids,” Rabbi Mitchell M. Hurvitz said, adding that kids will help a scribe craft the letters in the Torah.

The initiative is also inspiring for the parents, who can imagine their children holding the same Torah they helped scribe at their bar or bat mitzvah, Hurvitz added.

Most Torahs are too heavy for bar and bat mitzvah children — members of the congregation who are 12 or 13 years old per Jewish tradition — to comfortably hold, he said.

So to make the centennial Torah easier for those members to hold the torah, Hurvitz said the centennial torah will be smaller — two-thirds the normal size.

Hurvitz said the temple also plans to hold special lectures and a large concert to celebrate the centennial.

Starting as a small group that met at a Greenwich Ave. location for high holidays, the temple had its first permanent home on Elm Street. In 1955, the temple moved to its current location on E. Putnam Ave. next to Christ Church.

Before their new home was ready, the YMCA hosted the temple’s services and First Presbyterian Church hosted the temple's Hebrew school.

That arrangement marked the beginning of a close relationship between Temple Sholom and other religious institutions in town, including the church the congregation adjacent to the new temple, Hurvitz said

“Pretty quickly there was a nice relationship with the adjacent Christ Church,” he said.

That relationship took a “quantum leap forward” in the 1980s, when Rabbi Hillel Silverman, who was close friends with Rector Jack Bishop of Christ Church, tore down the stone wall separating the temple from the church.

That interfaith relationship continues today with the Sholom Center for Interfaith Learning, an auxiliary organization between Christ Church and Temple Sholom.

Today, the temple also continues to grow, Hurvitz said, and shows no sign of letting up.

“There’s an incredibly vibrancy now,” Hurvitz said. “We keep growing.”

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