The Building

DAR ribbon cutting-Building pageThe Preservation Society was formed in July 2009.  Its first act was to negotiate for ownership of the Temple building.  After extensive negotiations a deed was recorded and the Society then set its sights on securing state and national historic recognition.  In doing so, we came to appreciate not only the historical significance but also its architectural importance of Temple Beth Israel.  We learned about William Riseman, the Boston architect with local roots who designed the building.

Here is our Application for listing on the National Register of Historic Places:

Here is our National Register Listing:

Here is blog that was published shortly after our listing on the National Register was publicized:

Samuel Gruber’s Jewish Art & Monuments:

Building Preservation and Restoration Initiatives:

2015 saw two major restoration projects funded and completed and the launching of a third.  The first project was to stabilize and waterproof the upper level terrace.  The Society applied to the National DAR for a grant to help fund the repairs.  The application was successful and a grant of $10,000 was approved and repairs were completed in September 2015.  A ribbon cutting ceremony was held at which representatives of the DAR were honored as well as local dignitaries.  {Photo of Ribbon Cutting Ceremony]

The second project was to stabilize, level and render accessible the lower stone terrace.  These repairs were funded by a major initiative undertaken by the Rosenberg family.  A successful fundraising campaign helped to fund the David and Shirley Rosenberg Memorial Courtyard Project which was completed in October 2015.

The third project is to upgrade the electrical systems and lighting in the building.  To fund this effort, a campaign entitled “Let There Be Light” was launched in the spring of 2015.  The Society learned in early 2016 that the CT Trust for Historic Preservation has approved a grant to help fund the electrical work.  We anticipate that work will begin in the spring of 2016 and should be completed by early summer.

With the structural and electrical needs addressed, the Society will now focus on building administrative office and creating educational displays for housing artifacts, photographs and digital audio and video interviews with founders and key individuals who helped to create and maintain the community.

A House Built by Hope

For Temple Beth Israel on Listing in the National Register
August 3, 2013

A building stands
Silent, in a small, Yankee town
Fine and proud
Once home to settlers
Proud Americans
Who practiced ancient rituals while doing civic duties
Danced with scrolls writ in ancient script
Followed a lunar calendar
And welcomed distant cousins from the war

Once home to refugees
Who came to work on farms
And arrived with suitcases filled with memories
Of childhoods lost
And homes destroyed
Memories of meager rations, barbed wire, anguished cries
Gunshots in the forests
Running down frozen, muddy roads as in a bad dream.
But now proud new citizens with children of their own
Who represented life renewed
And built a house with hope.

Once home to immigrants
Who came from many lands
Desperate for acceptance
Seeking love and kindness and justice
Needing a place to mend their broken spirits
Looking for a space to hang memorial tablets
To remember victims without graves
And family members left behind
This house was built by Hope

No one knew but the neighbors
These broken souls – with broken hearts and broken dreams
Speaking broken English –
Whispered among themselves in a foreign tongue
Sang melodies in a minor key
Told stories of parents, sang songs of their youth
Wondered if there could be another chance at life
Who knew if they would stay?
This house was built by hope.

Rushed from the noise and dust and feathers
of the chicken coops
To come together to carry timbers,
Dig foundations and pour cement.
Sweaty backs and muscular arms with tattooed numbers
That in another world had carried stones
while watched by guards with guns
Here gently placed these heavy stones with love.
This house was built by hope.

Now a building stands
Proud and strong
Stone and timber and glass
Through which the stars could be counted before reciting
Mournful ancient prayers
Haunting melodies from the old country
A sacred space to house a sacred Scroll, a dream, a book,
A cup of ritual wine to toast an uncertain future
This house was built by hope

A building filled with scores of stories
A minyan gathers to recite the Kaddish
Seeking God who mysteriously was absent when He was most needed
Nestled among welcoming neighbors
Together writing a proud chapter in the story of a tolerant community.
And now a generous nation recalls the story
And writes the building’s address in a register
Among addresses worthy of remembering
And proud and grateful children remember their parents and celebrate
In this house built by hope.