WILLIAMSON – From its beginning, the City of Williamson was remarkably diverse in its offerings of businesses, cultures and peoples.
One very prominent and important group of immigrants were the Jews who began establishing itself in the area as early as 1910. Quoting longtime resident and member of the now closed Temple B’nai Israel, Bill Rosen, recalls …
“In the early 1900’s (around 1910) the Jews in Williamson were holding services in their homes. Around 1920 when the Banks owned the Cinderella Theater, Hyman Bank allowed the Jewish Congregation to use the basement of the theater as a place of worship. In 1925 the congregation started work on the temple building on the hill. It was completed in 1927 and dedicated by Rabbi Feinstein, who was the congregations first Rabbi. The temple closed in 2009 and Rabi Wucher, of Huntington, presided at the closing ceremony…”
Realizing the importance of the many contributions that the Jewish Community had afforded our area, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church decided something needed to be done to preserve this very important piece of local history.
About a year ago, the idea of a permanent memorial to the Jewish Temple and its Congregation became the focus of St. Paul’s, and permission was obtained from the current owners of the former Temple to remove certain artifacts for that purpose.
Carefully taken from the building was The Sanctuary Lamp, or as it is known, ‘Ner Tamid’, along with the cornerstones, a couple of small stained glass windows and the tablets of the Ten Commandments, which were above the temple’s front entrance.
These have been reworked and placed at St. Paul’s in two places, one inside to memorialize the continuing light of God’s Presence, and one outside, in the church garden, to recall the Temple itself, using the cornerstones and Tablets.
A dedication service will be held on October 9th at 5:00 p.m. at the church at 411 Prichard Street, Williamson. The community is encouraged to attend and show their support and love for those who helped make Williamson what it was, when the downtown was a thriving commercial area which many of us remember with fondness and nostalgia.
The service is for everyone in the community; those who remember the recent past and those who may just appreciate the importance of the rich heritage of our community, that needs remembering and honoring. Following the service, in the church undercroft, a reception will be enjoyed by all who attend.