The Expansion of the 40s & 50s
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By 1940, when A. R. Prero was Rabbi major changes in the size of the Synagogue structure were becoming critical to our survival. It was obvious that the house on South Upper Street was inadequate for our needs. As was true in our earliest days, functions were being held in various locations around the city. Rabbi Prero promoted a rather ambitious plan for adding an auditorium. I.A. Paritz, the building chairman and Ben Herman, president of the congregation, headed the project. David Lieverman, an architect, volunteered the plans. Had it not been for 11 men in this congregation who signed personal notes, work would not have been undertaken before World War II and the new addition may not have become a reality, certainly not until the end of the war. Those men were: Harry Gordon, Ben Herman, Nathan Herman, Ben Levy, Joe Levy, Max Munich, Erwin Neuman, I.A. Partiz, Joe Rosenberg. David Shraberg and Morris Wides. With the help of the Ladies Auxiliary, who assumed the responsibility of furnishing the kitchen and the young people’ s group, who furnished the lounge in the basement, the building was completed and ready for dedication in November of 1941.
A beautifully landscaped walkway along the west side of the sanctuary led to double doors that served as the main entrance to the new addition. During the same time that the auditorium was being built, the sanctuary was given a facelift. It was then that the porches were removed from the two entrances and rounded concrete steps were put in their place. At last, we had converted the originally isolated sanctuary into an integrated complex that would meet the social, as well as the religious needs of the congregation for the foreseeable future.
Congregational presidents during this period included Erwin Neuman, Nathan Herman, Ed Greenfield, Eddie Kessler, Seymour Moskoswitz and Sam Block. Mr. Greenfield had retired, and he and his wife Betty devoted themselves almost full time to the Synagogue. It was during his presidency, in 1948, that the Sanctuary was again redecorated. At the same time, David Ades had the pulpit rebuilt in memory of his parents and sister, and benches were purchased to replace the seats.
Although it had been discussed many times the board could not reach a decision on whether to buy the adjoining lot facing Maxwell Street in front of the auditorium. Suddenly it was learned the property had been sold and construction was imminent. Unable to assemble the board in time, Mr. Greenfield personally negotiated the purchase of the property from the new owner. The area became a playground for the children after a brick wall that the Joe Rosenberg family constructed along Maxwell Street enclosed it.
In 1957, the house on Preston Court was sold and Rabbi Stanley Wagner became the first Rabbi to receive a housing allowance so he could obtain a home of his choice.
During his stay, Rabbi Wagner organized a nursery school. Mrs. Max Munich provided the funds in memory of her husband. David Ades completely equipped the nursery school in memory of his wife, Sarah.
It was about this time that the Joe Rosenberg family dedicated a library in memory of Joe and Mary Rosenberg. It began in a small room next to the kitchen. From this humble beginning, Ohavay Zion has assembled a collection of books and artifacts that is the envy of congregations many times our size. This impressive feat was accomplished almost single-handedly through the personal effort and dedication of Bernice Herman, our first and only librarian. In addition, during this period, Eddie Stein led a campaign to air condition the sanctuary. The timing was perfect. Our first air-conditioned High Holiday services were during an exceptionally hot spell in the early 60’s.