Coastal Ga. temple celebrates 125th anniversary this weekend

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BRUNSWICK, Ga. - Temple Beth Tefilloh will celebrate the 125th anniversary of its charter this weekend with a architectural tour of the historic building, a talk on the history of Jews in Georgia and other events.

Temple Beth Tefilloh will celebrate the 125th anniversary of its charter this weekend.  Morris News Service
Morris News Service
Temple Beth Tefilloh will celebrate the 125th anniversary of its charter this weekend.

Among the most symbolic for the Union of Reform Judaism congregation was a Friday night key ceremony in which the oldest member, Gertrude Kaufman Rosenblum, 92, passed a key to 8-year-old Ethan Miller, one of the youngest, said Holle Weiss-Friedman, who is handling publicity for the event.

Being the oldest member is not the only thing that makes the event special for Rosenblum. As an architect, she may appreciate the temple more than most members.

Rosenblum spent World War II in the safety of Switzerland with her Jewish mother and Scottish father. Her mother’s family were all back in France when the Nazis invaded.

“All her family lived there,’’ she said of her mother. “All my aunts, uncles and cousins disappeared. They were never heard from again. There were 37 or 38 of them.”

Rosenblum earned a degree in architecture at the University of Zurich and went on to work with a French firm. The company’s owner asked her to come to America to finish up work on one of his projects, the 38-story Seagram Building on Park Avenue in New York.

She liked America, became a citizen quickly and did a lot of architectural work in Connecticut and New York.

That knowledge is what makes her more appreciative of Temple Beth Tefilloh, a building designed by Albert Eichberg who also designed Brunswick’s Old City Hall. Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise, founder reform Judaism in America, consecrated the temple Nov. 7, 1890.

“It’s sort of Moorish,’’ Rosenblum said of Eichberg’s temple design. “It has a touch of it. It’s very beautiful.”

Service, tour speech

There are three public events today starting with a docent tour of the sanctuary at 10 a.m.

Rabbi Saul Rubin, who has written extensively on the history of Jews in Georgia, will speak on the subject at 11 a.m. in the temple. Although it will be a historic talk, Rubin will include a lot of playfulness, Friedman said.

Nathan Brock, president of Wiregrass Studio Inc., Liane Brock and restoration architect Catherine Chmelar will conduct an architectural tour of the temple at 2 p.m. today.

The temple needs a lot of restoration work, but the congregation is proceeding slowly — and seeking funding — to make sure the historical integrity is protected.

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