On behalf of our congregation, I appreciate the Parkersburg community for support in response to the article about selling the Jewish Temple building, especially the local ministers and congregations who have offered us the use of their churches. The building has been a fixture in Parkersburg since 1949 when the Jewish community was able to complete construction.
However, the Jewish community has existed in the Mid-Ohio area since the late 1800s. Our congregation was chartered in 1909 and was one of the first Reform Jewish congregations this side of the Appalachians. There is much history in this congregation. The families of this congregation worked side by side with their Christian counterparts and often donated much needed funds for educational scholarships (Beren, Hersch, Nathan and Pager Awards) and assist with helping out with local churches physically and financially. It is a tenant of our belief to help when needed. Most recently, our small numbers donated to a church that needed money to desperately rebuild.
There are many families in this area who have descended from early Jewish settlers and members of our congregation. They no longer practice our faith. There are many Jewish families who live in the Mid-Ohio Valley who do not feel the calling to belong to a temple. Our religion is not based on worship in a community building. The temple has always been a congregational community gathering place. But with a limited number families who are willing to take care of such a big facility and support the building, it is no longer feasible, thus the decision to sell the building.
The Jewish community and the Congregation of Temple B'nai Israel will continue in the valley. We have Sabbath and all High Holy Day services with our student Rabbi from Hebrew Union College and will continue to have our annual Hanukkah and Passover gatherings as we have over the last 100 years. We have just returned to where we began - without a formal building.
A Jewish congregation is not a building; we are a family. I invite all who are Jewish to join us for our continuing services throughout the years. You can find us on our website and FaceBook.