Celebrating 100 Years: A Journey Through Time

April 12, 2024Robin Lilien

This year my congregation is celebrating a very special milestone: the 100-year anniversary of our community. Temple Israel Long Beach in southern California was chartered in February 1924. For this important anniversary, the temple has been celebrating with many events throughout the year.

Temple Israel’s sisterhood came soon after the founding of the temple. In 1925, the Ladies Auxiliary became the sisterhood with a membership of 50 women. In 1927, it affiliated with the National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods. This year Temple Israel Sisterhood (TIS) decided that we also needed to host a 100-year anniversary celebration event, which we did on a recent Saturday evening.

The themes we chose for the TIS celebration were: 100 years ago, and 50 years ago. Our event was a variation of a progressive dinner held at multiple homes. The first home featured foods that were popular in the 1920s: salmon mousse tarts, parmesan stuffed mushrooms, deviled eggs, and cucumber sandwiches. The second home featured foods from the 1970s: kosher franks in blankets, fish sticks, mini quiches, and cheese puffs. These foods reminded many of us of our childhoods. The third home had desserts from today: brownies, oatmeal raisin cookies, and chocolate chip mandelbrot.

We had display boards at each home with photos, documents, and text to show the temple, the sisterhood, and the world at each time. On the displays for the 1970s we documented the end of the sisterhood in the late-1970s. On the displays for today, we showed TIS’s rebirth in 2010 and its continuing strong presence today. Yes, our sisterhood was on hiatus for a few decades.

At each home, we also presented a special guest speaker. At the 1920’s home, we heard from a cherished life-long member of the congregation. Binnie has belonged to Temple Israel for 89 years. She is a descendant of some original temple members. Binnie spoke about her life growing up at Temple Israel. Her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren are current temple members. At the 1970’s home, we heard from another long-time member. Rhoda spoke about the sisterhood years from the late-1950s until the 1970s when she was most involved. It was so engaging and interesting to hear the stories of these two remarkable women.

At the third home, we were thrilled to have Lillian Silver, Vice President of Philanthropy for WRJ and co-first  Vice President of the Pacific District, as our special guest speaker. Lillian shared with us some history of WRJ and she connected what sisterhoods do to the work and mission of WRJ. I heard from many who attended that this was very enlightening and informative about our relationship with WRJ.

Lillian also brought lovely tree of life charms on threads for each of us and we each tied one on another person’s arm. This gift will be a reminder of our congregation because the tree of life is Temple Israel’s logo. This gift will also remind us of what Lillian charged us with: What do we want to grow for the future of our congregation? It has been nurtured for 100 years and we continue that.

Our evening ended with a beautiful Havdalah as we  joined our Cantor Kelly Cooper. This was the perfect spiritual closing to a truly memorable evening. We are excited to usher in the next 100 years of Temple Israel Long Beach and of our sisterhood.

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