Many area church groups have come to visit Beth Sholom Congregation
over the years. Each visiting group is treated to a full tour by our former Cantor,
Dr. Richard Berlin, who is pictured here on the right in the small
chapel speaking to the visitors from the Trinity Lutheran Church
during their tour (August 2002).
Tours are now led by Rabbi Irvin Brandwein.
Berlin provided a rich explanation of the basic rituals, religious
and religious artifacts in the main sanctuary, in the small chapel, as
well as in the library and the historical exhibit area. The Cantor was
joined by Isadore Suchman, a long term member of the
who demonstrated the art of blowing (sounding) the shofar. In
picture below on the left, Mr. Suchman is on the Bima in the
demonstrating both the sound of the magnificant shofar and the
that is needed to make the ceremonial sounds. During the High
Days, Mr. Suchman is joined by children and adults who he has trained
server in the "Shofar Corps." Their sounds help to stir the souls
of those who participate in those most solemn ancient rituals.
Some of the other interesting items that visitors have a chance to
see and to hear about during the tour include a carefully restored Torah
(the complete Five Books of Moses handscribed on sheepskin parchment by
highly skilled religious scribes). This was the first Torah owned
by the former Beth Zion Temple once located downtown, and it survived
second most devastating flood (St. Patrick's Day 1936). In 1953, this
damaged 19th century scroll was carefully restored as a Confirmation
project under the direction of Rabbi H. Goren Perlmutter, and Dr.
Myer and Sally Bloom provided funds for an appropriate storage
In the 1980s, in loving memory of husband and father Henry Kaplan, Rose
and Susan Kaplan established a fund, making it possible for this
sacred scroll to be properly sealed in a protective display case for
and future generations to view. (Note: the reflections in the picture
caused by the glare from the glass case.) This Torah is no longer in
In the picture on the lower left (from August 2000), Cantor Berlin is shown demonstrating for visitors from Trinity Lutheran Church how a Torah is opened and how it is read (chanted) during a religious service.
To arrange for your group to visit the Congregation, contact our office by calling 814-536-0647 or 814-536-6440 between 9:00 A.M. and 4:00 P.M. weekdays (except for national and Jewish holidays), or send e-mail to: email@example.com.
They began their visit by squeezing into the small Sam and Rose Berger Chapel, where the chairs had been set up along three walls in the style of the first century C.E synagogue. The Cantor discussed some of the ritual objects of daily worship and how Jewish traditions have grown over the last two millennia.
The group then moved into the Sanctuary, where they had the opportunity to see and hear Iz Suchman sound his two shofars. They also saw an opened Torah and heard a portion of the Torah chanted for them by Cantor Berlin. He also talked with them about our modern synagogue and our services. A lively question and answer period followed that discussion.
Near the end of the visit, everyone learned to sing L'Cha Dodi
and Shalom Chaverim, and they learned a simple Hora, which they
danced in the aisles of the Sanctuary. As the bus left (at 9:30 P.M.),
they were singing Shalom Chaverim and waving goodbye to the
By all accounts, everyone (including the Cantor) enjoyed the visit.