Temple Israel capital campaign will preserve a historic treasure for generations to come

By Betsy Frank

During Erev Rosh Hashanah services, United Hebrew Congregation Terre Haute president Betsy Frank delivered remarks addressing a new capital campaign to preserve Temple Israel and plan for its future.

Rosh Hashanah and the entire 10 days of Awe is a time to look backward as well as a time to look forward.

We look backward at our personal failings and we look toward the future in hopes of repairing our faults and moving to a higher level of everyday living.

The High Holidays are also a time for congregational assessment. How can we as a congregation see what we need to repair in terms of our interactions and our physical space?

Moving forward as a congregation

And, how can we move forward as a congregation to preserve our future?

Before I go any further, I must thank Terry Fear for coordinating our efforts to preserve our beautiful worship space, through the Sacred Places Indiana initiative. I must also thank Terry, Jo Einstandig and Laney Meis for working to obtain the funds for building preservation and restoration.

By now, many, if not all, of you have received a letter that outlines our restoration needs. As you know, we have completed an architectural assessment outlining our specific restoration needs.

Now we need to invest in some real restoration of our magnificent worship space.

And yes, we have received some donations and pledges already!

Many congregations produce a yearly building fund assessment for members. We do not. We receive building fund donations in honor or in memory of persons or special events. To date, those donations have been sufficient for our day-to-day maintenance.

Now we need to invest in some real restoration of our magnificent worship space.

You might be asking why, with our membership aging and few new members — one or two each year — are we conducting a capital campaign? To put it bluntly, if we want the building to stand and remain safe for its occupants, we must act to repair the facade and the interior.

But why should we put out the effort to maintain the building? Here is the answer:

UHC maintains a cultural connection with the community

The Jewish community has been an integral part of the Wabash Valley for almost 170 years.
People look to us to share our faith with them.

We host many groups for tours and as guests at services. For example, we had more than 100 people visit on Stained Glass Sunday. Students and others come to services and yes, some do convert to Judaism after learning more about our religion.

Imagine a Jewish tour of Terre Haute! Visitors will learn about the Holocaust at CANDLES and also learn about a living Jewish community from us.

The Jewish community has been an integral part of the Wabash Valley for almost 170 years. People look to us to share our faith with them.

If the building becomes safer, we can continue to share it with others for appropriate concerts and plays and other community events. A recent example was the Yom HaShoah observance, which was well received.

Yes, we have a small membership. But we are vital and we need to make sure our community and the historical treasure in which we live is preserved for all to enjoy, for generations to come.

As the letter you received asked, do remember the events in your life that bind you to our congregation. And consider what the Wabash Valley would be like if we weren’t here for Jews, and others who appreciate our community, and for those who need to learn about us.

Please open your hearts and pledge to donate what you can.

I wish you all L’Shana tova.

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