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Shaare Emeth Celebrates 150 Years with Re-Consecration Shabbat

Posted on November 10, 2017 by Kim Oswalt

Congregation Shaare Emeth celebrated its 150th anniversary with a special re-consecration Shabbat on Friday, November 3. The evening marked the end of a year-long renovation project that made the Temple more accessible, beautiful and functional.

At the beginning of the service, the Torahs were symbolically returned to the Sanctuary, accompanied by a procession of the Congregation’s children led by Rabbi Jonah Zinn. The Torahs were placed in a new ark at the center of the bima, constructed by Portland artist and Shaare Emeth member Ian Gilula.

The ark is a gorgeous installation of glass, light and wood that was designed to reflect the verse in Amos, “Let justice roll down like water and righteousness as a mighty stream.”

“This is sacred space because we feel called to something both higher and deeper – something eternal, and meaningful and true,” Rabbi Andrea Goldstein said in opening the service. “At the same time, we know that a Congregation or a sanctuary cannot be deemed holy simply because it contains a Torah scroll or an ark, no matter how amazing that ark might be. This space is holy because of who we are to one another when we are here.”

During the service, Shaare Emeth president Renee Silverstein recognized representatives from several community partners, including the Alzheimer’s Association of St. Louis, the International Institute, Oak Hill Elementary School, St. Luke’s Hospital and St. Louis Public Schools – among others.

The evening concluded with a message from Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, who was welcomed to the bima by Rabbi James Bennett.

“This is a milestone – it’s 150 years – it’s a chance for us to look back, but more importantly I hope we will use this sacred occasion to look ahead,” Rabbi Jacobs said. “It’s with humility that I come here and acknowledge the strength and longevity of this great Congregation.”

Rabbi Emeritus Jeffrey Stiffman, for whom the Stiffman Sacntuary is named, concluded the service with a moving reading of the Kaddish list. His book on the history of Congregation Shaare Emeth will be published later this year.

The 150th celebration committee is chaired by Shaare Emeth member Sue Matlof.

You can watch the entire service, which was live streamed, in the video player below.

Erev Shabbat Service 11/03/17 from Congregation Shaare Emeth on Vimeo.

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