This Rosh Hashanah, a Jewish service was held at 333 E. Portland St., in downtown Phoenix, the former home of Beth Hebrew Congregation, for the first time since the congregation left the building in the 1970s. More than 100 people attended the informal service. The following is a Facebook post by the great-grandson of one of the founders of the congregation, posted after his participation in the service.
Today, I had a first. Something I never thought I would’ve experienced. I’ve always thought of Phoenix as my home, but I’ve never “loved” Phoenix. For the first time, this evening, I felt connected to Phoenix in a way that has never happened for me in the past. I was born here, my family roots are here. But feeling the connection to my family’s previous generations in a spiritual way is entirely new for me. I imagine this is what it would feel like for those folks that have generation after generation in the same house.
Over 60 years ago, my great-grandfather Elias Loewy moved to Phoenix with his family after becoming “The Jewish Schindler” in World War II (Elias and his two sons saved over 1,500 Jews from persecution with the French Underground; “war heroes” does not begin to define [them]). Shortly after moving to Phoenix, he co-founded a synagogue, 333 E. Portland St. Synagogue, Beth Hebrew. It was Beth Hebrew for about 25 years before the building was repurposed a few times over. In 2005, my grandfather, Fred Loewy, who many of you knew and loved, saved this historical landmark. [Editor’s note: Loewy had preserved synagogue documents that helped establish the case for the building’s preservation.]
An extremely ambitious and passionate man by the name of Michael Levine fought tooth and nail for seven years to purchase this building. He has been working extremely hard on restoring it to its original state (even better than).
Tonight was the first service that took place in this building in almost 40 years. I was honored to be asked to be the first to sound the shofar. Knowing that my father was a bar mitzvah there, and my grandfather was a board member for years there, and my great-grandfather helped found this shul, this was an overwhelming feeling that I’m having trouble describing even to myself. I feel closer than ever to Phoenix and my roots in Phoenix. I feel proud.
Thanks to everyone that came out tonight to support Michael and his vision.
This post is used by permission of the author.