By Elly Kamen, past Sisterhood president
From its humble beginnings, with a handful of people, Bet Sholom was established in 1919. Our founders had a vision for a congregation, religious school, and a synagogue. This dream is a chronicle of achievement and growth. We are known throughout the world as an “American Synagogue.”
We started in Logan, a neighborhood in Philadelphia, and as times changed, so did we. Our leaders realized that our congregation was growing and migrating to the suburbs, and that we too, would have to move to our current location in suburban Elkins Park, Pennsylvania.
Our sisterhood has a rich history and glorious past. We are the oldest auxiliary of the synagogue, formed in 1919, with Anna Levy as our first president. Our most significant contribution to the synagogue has been our “Sisterhood Sanctuary.” As the synagogue grew, so did we. Many of our women have achieved local prominence and some have even been recognized nationally.
Our women have always been dedicated and have supported all major causes. We helped the war effort of World War II by making sweaters, scarves, and socks for our servicemen. Whenever we were called upon, Sisterhood rose to the challenge.
We are engaged in numerous activities. Our women have mentored the Confirmation Classes, instituted an Adult Education program, participated in our Adult Bat Mitzvah program, purchased Israel Bonds, hosted theater trips and more. Our major events include the annual Torah Fund lunch, and hosting guest speakers and entertainers.
Our newly redesigned Sisterhood Gift Shop is known throughout the city. The canopy at the entrance to the synagogue is one of the many projects that have been funded and donated by the Sisterhood Gift Shop, in addition to a major cash contribution at the end of each fiscal year. Also, we have planned many other major projects for the future.
Through the years as Conservative Judaism evolved, so did our synagogue and sisterhood. Women were permitted to participate in services, have Aliyot, read Torah and chant Haftorah. Our Sisterhood Shabbat service is led entirely by our members. It is one of the highlights of the year. Our synagogue’s rich history includes a female Rabbi and two female presidents of the congregation.
We have progressed a long way and will strive to continue to do so in the future, so that we may for from strength to strength to ensure a legacy for our children and grandchildren.