02/23/06 — Place of honor: Historic temple a landmark worth cherishing

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Place of honor: Historic temple a landmark worth cherishing

There is a project Saturday that you might not have heard too much about until now, but that could be a significant contribution to preserving a bit of the community’s history.
Members of the Wayne County Reads Committee, other volunteers and students from the Wayne Community College International Students Club will be at the Temple Oheb Shalom Saturday beginning at 2 p.m. to start cleaning up the former place of worship.
The temple is the second-oldest Jewish synagogue in eastern North Carolina and is located at the corner of James and Oak streets.
Unfortunately, time has not been kind to this historic landmark.
There is need for a major cleanup and even a few repairs. Some of the building is currently in use by the Community Soup Kitchen, but the rest has been a hidden treasure for many years.
Saturday’s cleanup is the first step to opening the temple back up as a place of honor in Wayne County. It will be used, at first, for the Purim celebration planned as part of the Wayne County Reads events March 13. After that, volunteers hope it will become a place for the community to enjoy.
In addition to the fact that the building itself is a landmark worth saving, the cleanup and rededication of the temple to public use could be the first steps in acknowledging some of the contributions made over the decades by the community’s Jewish families.
Think of it as a chance to say thank you and to save a landmark at the same time.
Of course, the impetus for the committee’s cleanup project is the continued support of its 2006 reading selection, Elie Wiesel’s “Night,” a chronicle of the author’s days in a Nazi concentration camp.
But even without the committee’s other interests, this is a project that deserves community support.
If you can sweep, dust or otherwise clean, you can help make a difference at the temple this weekend. And there is no great time commitment required, either. If you have an hour, give an hour. If you can only come by for 30 minutes, that would be an appreciated contribution as well. There is no need to bring anything. The cleaning supplies have all been donated.
And if this weekend is just not good for you, there will be another chance the following Saturday to assist.
Wayne County is lucky to have such a historic place right in its downtown area. Helping with its cleanup and renovation could be not just be a valuable contribution to preserving the area’s history. It could also be a first step in helping revitalize a portion of the downtown area as well.
That is well worth a couple of hours on a Saturday.

Published in Editorials on February 23, 2006 11:16 AM