A refurbishing of the sanctuary serves as a testimony of faith.
By LAURIE M. FISHER
YOUNGSTOWN -- The sound of the Shofar heralded the rededication of the sanctuary of Congregation Rodef Sholom during a special Sabbath service Friday evening.
After Student Hal Brewster of Boardman blew the ram's horn, Rabbi Franklin Muller led a processional of seven congregants who raised funds and coordinated efforts to refurbish the sanctuary.
Each placed a Torah, a scroll that contains the Hebrew Bible, in the ark on the pulpit as a symbol of the rededication.
During the renovation, the scrolls had been transferred to another ark in the temple's chapel.
Jewish tradition reserves sounding the Shofar for significant events, explained Rabbi Muller.
Service: The rabbi and Marilyn Oyer of Liberty, who chaired the rededication's planning committee, compiled the special religious service from traditional and modern Jewish sources.
"This night of rededication marks the newest and shiniest link in an unbroken chain that dates back not just to the early 1900s when this temple was built, and even further back in time than the founding of our congregation in 1867, but one that goes all the way back to biblical times some 2,500 years ago," Rabbi Muller said.
"In every generation, our ancestors, cut off from Jerusalem, the geographic and spiritual center of our religious faith, have built synagogues in which to practice their Judaism and perpetuate their Jewish lives.
"Jewish history teaches that wherever our people have lived, they utilized their artistic talents and creative efforts to build their houses of worship," he added.
Planning: Crews completed the work at the temple at 1119 Elm St. in six weeks, but congregants began planning for it more than two years ago, explained Amy Fibus Hendricks of Liberty, temple treasurer and sanctuary renovation project coordinator.
"Several years ago the temple board made a wish list of the top 10 things we'd like to do. The renovation of the sanctuary was on the top of the list," she explained.
During renovation of the sanctuary, built in 1915, carpet was replaced, the large domed ceiling was patched, chairs were re-covered and woodwork was refinished, said Marc Rubin, chairman of the building committee.
The sanctuary's 12 stained-glass windows were cleaned, and additional security lighting and landscaping were added.
Rubin estimated the cost, including some roof repair and structural work, at $250,000. Some 40 of the temple's 450 families contributed to the renovation.
The refurbished building "is adequate testimony to our dedication and commitment to our temple, to the neighborhood in which we are located, and to the larger community. We are here to stay," Rabbi Muller said. "But bricks and mortar, wood and fabric are not ends in themselves. They are but the stage upon which the life of a congregation can be played out. This is just the veneer of what we really want to accomplish to get people to renew their commitments to Judaism and the temple."