Posted on August 3, 2022

It was eventually decided that a Sunday school was needed, end one was established at Chisholm School that same fall. Twenty two children were enrolled in two classes. Milt Kappstatter was principal and the volunteer teachers included Roz Yablonsky, Ephie Weiniger, Clarice Weiniger, Millie Kramerman, Sue Kalem, and Carol Cohen. The children enjoyed participating in Springfield’s first Sukkah, built in the Kappstatters’ backyard with Nahum Gershwin leading Sukkot services on October 5, 1953.

In 1953, Bernard Lyons became membership chairman. Helen and Morris Josephs became the editors of the first Bulletin, and plans were made for the children to observe Purim. A community Seder was held at the Pleasant Valley Hotel in West Orange. We also donated several mirrors for the brand new Florence M. Gaudineer School. That spring, some 325 tickets were sold for a Barn Dance, and an Adult Education series addressed the issues of “How to Answer Prejudiced Remarks” and “Jewish History.” On April 1, 1953, Treasurer Dan Kalem reported a balance of $685.13, with a total paid-up membership of 57 families. The first dinner dance was held at the Goldman Hotel in West Orange on December 12, 1953. Cost was $20.00 per couple.

On the evening of May 27, 1953, after much lively discussion, it was decided a committee would investigate acquiring land for a building. This came after many months of debate on the ultimate goal of the organization. The group finally decided to establish a Jewish community center combining social, cultural, and religious activities in a building. A suitable site was not available immediately, but in the meantime we obtained the use of the Presbyterian Parish House for Friday night services twice a month. The first such service was held October 20, 1953. Allan Zane was cantor, Ted Siegel was the lay leader, and prayer books were donated by B’nai Abraham in Newark. Members still had not agreed on whether to be a Conservative or Reform congregation. Eventually the vote would be Conservative 115, Reform 24.