Posted on August 3, 2022

Although we like to think that Jewish observance in Springfield started with the group that became Temple Beth Ahm, this was not the case. Well before the first Millburn congregation was organized in 1926, Jewish services were held in Springfield from time to time in a small store at the corner of Mountain and Morris Avenues owned by Max Tanenbaum (where Edward Anthony’s saIon is now). Some of the names associated with this minyan were Bleiwise, Bardy, Tanenbaum, and Levine.

When Congregation B’nai Israel of Millburn was started, the Jews in Springfield finally had a synagogue nearby. It served us well for a quarter of a century. But with the expanding Jewish population in Springfield, it was inevitable that we would establish our own organization. During the winter of 1951-52, a social group started that became the Jewish Community Group of Springfield. The first meeting of a Planning Board for this group was held at the home of Ralph Feldman on November 28, 1951. These people were the nucleus of the board: Bob Bass, Ralph Feldman, Norman Freedman, Dr. Samuel Goldstein, Gerald London, Maurice Plotkin, Sid Rich, Danny Rosenthal, Ed Scharf, Clarence Seltzer, Bill Shepard, Ben Sussman, and Ephie Weiniger.

There were about 120-130 Jewish families in Springfield then, with more expected in the near future. The Jewish Community Group felt that these people could have fun in their new town by banding together for social and civic betterment, and that they should give their children a feeling of solidarity with others of similar background. It was decided to invite all Jewish families in town, including those of mixed marriages, to join the group. The emphasis would be on social functions with civic overtones, and to encourage recognition of and respect for the Jewish community as a group within Springfield.

Ralph Feldman was elected temporary chairman. At the first regular meeting, at the home ol Ilsa and Dave Kaplan on June 25, 1952, Dr. Samuel Goldstein was elected president. In keeping with the group’s interest in civic affairs, Ike Freedman was named Community Affairs chairman. Dues were set at $15 per family. A social gathering was held at the American Legion Hall on December 11, 1952.