Based upon "A Short History of Temple Sholom" by Benjamin Rosin on the occasion of Temple Sholom’s 80th Anniversary in 1993 and edited by Steven H. Saltzman, Ph.D.
On November 3, 1913, Judge William Newcorn called a meeting in his chambers for the purpose of "discussing the organization of a Reform temple in Plainfield." Ten days later, the congregation of Temple Sholom was formally organized and incorporated with 22 charter members.
The new congregation leased a small building on Grove Street in North Plainfield. The building is still in use housing the Community Baptist Church. The first service was held on Friday, November 21, 1913 and conducted by a guest Rabbi, Samuel Duhn. Temple Sholom’s first full-time Rabbi, M. Schoenbrun, established a Sunday school for members' children.
By the early 1920s, the Grove Street building had become too small and construction began at a site on Seventh Street for a new synagogue. The building was completed and dedicated on December 11, 1927. This building served as the home of Temple Sholom until 2003. The morgage for the original building was "burned" on January 13, 1946.
The next summer, Rabbi Sidney E. Nathanson was called to the pulpit, becoming the congregation's new spiritual leader. In 1949, Temple Sholom joined the Union of American Hebrew Congregations. By 1957, the available Temple facilities had become too small for High Holy Day services. On October 15, 1957 the Board of Trustees voted to build a new sanctuary and social hall. The new building was dedicated in November 1961, and the first Friday night service in the new sanctuary was held on March 24, 1961.
The 50th Anniversary celebration was scheduled for November 22, 1963 but was postponed until December because of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
By 1969, some 400 families were members of Temple Sholom.
Rabbi Sidney Nathanson, whose tenure saw the Temple grow from 100 families to more than 350 families, became ill in 1973 and requested that he be relieved of his duties. He died in 1975. After Rabbi Nathanson’s resignation, Rabbi Gerald Goldman was called to the pulpit.
A major expansion and renovation of our religious school facilities was completed in October 1979.
During Rabbi Goldman’s tenure, a substantial adult education series was inaugurated. Rabbi Goldman was honored for this and other accomplishments upon his 10th anniversary with the Temple in November 1983.
1990 saw the first adult confirmation class, and in July, ten members of that class, led by Rabbi and Mrs. Goldman spent ten days in Prague and Budapest visiting scenes of Jewish interest.
In March 1993, the Temple celebrated the 20th anniversary of Rabbi Goldman’s coming to Temple Sholom. Senator Frank Lautenberg was the speaker at a special Shabbat service.
In the spring of 1998, Rabbi Goldman retired after 25 years of service to Temple Sholom. On July 1, 1999, Rabbi Joel N. Abraham became the new spiritual leader of Temple Sholom.
In May 2001, the Long Range Planning Committee recommended that "…a committee should be formed to conduct a comprehensive feasibility study regarding the costs and logistics of relocating, renovating our existing facility, or merging with another temple.” A report was submitted to the Board of Trustees in October, 2001. On Sunday, November 18, 2001, the congregation met to review the recommendations and voted overwhelmingly to have the Board present a proposal for a move to a new location.
On May 20, 2002, at the Temple's Annual Meeting, resolutions were passed to authorize the sale of the building and to purchase new property in the Scotch Plains/Fanwood area. To prepare for the move, the Religious School program moved to the Union Catholic High School in Scotch Plains. On May 19, 2003, at the last Annual Meeting at the Temple's building in Plainfield, Temple President Susan Weiseman announced that the Temple's building had been sold to IAM's Temple. Two sites in Scotch Plains were under consideration for purchase.
On Friday, June 13, 2003, Temple Sholom celebrated its 90th Anniversary with a dinner and service. Rabbi Goldman came from his home in Massachusetts to be with the congregation for this important milestone in the Temple's history. On Wednesday, June 18th, the congregation celebrated the Brit Milah of Ezri Barak Abraham, the son of Michelle and Rabbi Abraham. One week later Elizabeth O’Brien (granddaughter of Claire Greenberg) had her Bat Mitzah at Temple Sholom. This was the last significant life cycle event at the building in Plainfield. The building was sold to the Rose of Sharon Church next door, which currently leases the site to a charter school.
In July of 2003, the Fanwood Presbyterian Church graciously opened its doors to the congregation (a late favor returned, as one of the founding members of Temple Sholom had donated the land to build the church). Offices for Temple Sholom were constructed in the church's main building. For religious worship, the church's dining room was reimagined as the Temple Sholom chapel. A series of programs, including pulpit exchanges and a "Worship Together Weekend," helped strengthen the relationship between the two congregations – which remains strong to this day.
In May 2007, Mr. Barry Judelman, owner of Innovative Development Services, presented a report to the congregation asserting that we could reach a fundraising goal of $2.5 million. Later in 2007, the congregation purchased a five-acre site in Scotch Plains on Lake Ave. to become the site of the Temple's new home. On January 22, 2008, Brawer and Hauptman presented their proposal for the construction of the new synagogue at the Lake Avenue site.
On Monday, May 10, 2010, the Scotch Plains Planning Board unanimously approved the site plan proposal for Temple Sholom’s new home.
On August 11, 2013, we broke ground at 1925 Lake Avenue in Scotch Plains. Later that year, the congregation celebrated its 100th anniversary.
Construction of the new Temple was completed on August 22, 2014. On August 24, the congregation ceremoniously transported its Torah scrolls from the original synagogue on Grove St., to our former home on Seventh Street in Plainfiled, to the Fanwood Presbyterian Church (via car), and then marched the scrolls 2.5 miles from Fanwood to their new home on Lake Avenue. The first service in the new synagogue was held on August 29.
In 2015, Temple Sholom confirmed its centennial confirmation class. The Torah was passed to the three students in the class by a long line of former Temple Sholom confirmands.
Click the image to read the Union County Proclamation honoring Temple Sholom on its 100th Anniversary.