Artifacts from the Shul Library

From time to time I come across some hidden treasures in the shul library. Typically, they are things long forgotten. But they offer a glimpse into the past, not just of the individuals involved, but of shul life and Carnegie life.

I am sharing two items that you will appreciate. First is a Hebrew bible issued to Bernie Roth during WWII. Long timers at the shul remember Bernie as a good man who was dedicated to his family and the shul. The house at 416 Anthony still stands, and can be easily seen when standing in front of the shul.

The second item is a copy of “To Kill a Mockingbird”. You may know one or more of the names on the library loan card. And as a bonus, there was an Easter egg (can I say that on a Jewish blog?) inside the book. Buried in the middle pages was a little gift left by a budding artist for us to find decades later; a small scrap of paper that looks like it was torn from the bottom of a newspaper. It’s a little over 2 inches long and features a mockingbird being pierced by daggers. It would be easy to dismiss this but I as I looked closer I was immediately impressed by the artwork. No simple stick figure, the bird is shaded to provide contour. And I was especially struck by the stylizing of the word “kill”. It plays with the shape of the letters and at the same time invokes the chaos of daggers coming from all directions. Some of the letters in “mockingbird” are triangular in shape and out of alignment to continue the theme. My goodness, quite impressive for a doodle on a piece of scrap paper! I hope this young person, who appears to be “DB” or “LB”, went on to develop their natural gift for art.

(all photos can be enlarged by clicking)

U.S. Army Hebrew bible


Filed under History, Uncategorized

3 Responses to Artifacts from the Shul Library

  1. Sharyn Tisherman

    Rick… what an amazing find! I remember Stanley Roth, but not so much Bernie Roth; though I do remember my parents speaking of him. Also, my mother (Rose Ann Tisherman) was related to the Mallingers. Her cousin, Rose Mallinger, was one of the victims of the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting. I’m sure the shul library, depending on how many of the books remain, is like a time travel through history. Also… I’ve always wondered… do you or anyone know the history behind the beautifully carved chairs that are placed near the bema? I’ve always admired those chairs, reminding me of thrones, and wondered about how they came about to be in the shul, who made them, their age, were they custom made for the shul, etc.? Thank you for sharing these wonderful photos.

  2. Gerrie

    I knew Zelda Judd!

  3. Rick

    I don’t know the history of the bima chairs. My guess is they have been there since the shul was built in 1937. These two chairs with the tall backs and dark wood stain are not as valuable as they appear from a distance. Close examination says they are handsome but not expensive Depression era furniture. However, there is a matching large armchair that is much more substantial and better built. It’s not clear if it is an “Elijah’s chair” or maybe an honorary chair for the chazan, rabbi, president, etc. The problem is that we really don’t have a place for it in the sanctuary and it has been residing in the library for at least the past 30 years.

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