New Home for Torah Ark; From; June 26, 2006

  • The Chabad Jewish Center of Monroe, NJ will mark an important milestone Sunday with the acquisition of an ark, the sacred structure used to house the Torah. But it’s more that a new begining – it also marks an end. The ark will come from the 159-year-old Kehillat Israel temple in Shenandoah, Pa., which is no longer in use. The empty synagogue was once the center of a thriving Jewish community in the coal-mining town. “We had over 100 Jewish families when I was growing up. Now there’s barely 11 Jews in Shenandoah,” said Herb Siswein, 80, who said he was an active member of the congregation. His grandfather attended services at Kehillat is 1892, he said. “It’s very heartbreaking,” said Ethel Harris, 79 who was president of the sisterhood there. “It was a very beautiful old synagogue.” Her husband, Mendel Harris, 84, was the last president and treasurer of the congregation. He plans to say Kaddish, the Jewish mourning prayer, for the temple. “It’s like the death of a loved individual,” he said. But the transfer of the ark will also keep a part of Kehillat alive, the Harris’ said. “It stood in that temple for decades and it represented God and the Torah in that community, and was part of teh celebration of new life, of new marriages, (and) of life-cycle events in that community,” said Rabbi Eliezer Zaklikovsky of the Monroe temple. “And now, instead of that ark being destroyed, it is moving on where it can have new life in a new environment. It will be a source of inspiration for anyone who will see it and will come to celebrate life in its new home.” Proceeds from the sale of the ark will also help celebrate the lives of Kehillat congregants who have passd on. The money will go into a trust fund used to pay for the maintenance of Kehillat Israel Cemetery, Mendel Harris said. Zaklikovsky said the Chabad Jewish Center is still int ehprocess of negotiating the price of the ark. The rabbi and 10 volunteers will head out Sunday morning for a drive to Shenandoah, Pa., to retrieve the ark. It will be a complex and careful process, he said, because the ark was built into the temple wall in accordance with Jewish tradition. It was be placed in a new building that is under construction. The building is expected to be completed and dedicated within six months, the Rabbi said. Teh acquisition of the ark coincides this week with the Yartzeit, or anniversary of death, of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn, who was the leader of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, Zalikovsky said. The Chabad Jewish Center of Monroe will honor his memory with the new addition, the rabbi said, and will also mark his 1994 passing by visintg his grave in Queens, N.Y., on Thursday.

Henry Hershinson Biography

  • Henry Hershinson was born on July 7, 1913 in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn,New York. He was the second of five siblings born to Rose and Isadore Hershinson, who emigrated to the United States from Romania. Henry attended Franklin K. Lane High School in Brooklyn. Henry was drafted into the Army and was stationed at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland. He rose in the ranks, eventually becoming a Captain. Henry told his young daughters about an event that troubled him when he was in the Army. During World War II the Army was segregated, with African-American soldiers and Caucasian soldiers living in separate barracks. Henry related to his daughters that when African-American soldiers were moved from a barracks, the Army fumigated the barracks. Henry made this a “teachable moment” because he believed that that was terribly wrong. Henry met Mildred Sorin at Friday night Shabbat Services when they were both stationed in Aberdeen. Soon thereafter, Mildred, who was an army nurse, was deployed to Great Britain to care for patients in an Army hospital for almost three years. When Mildred returned to the United States, she and Henry were married in Brooklyn, New York on August 26, 1945. Henry was a very impressive looking man; tall, good looking with a respectful demeanor particularly when he was in uniform. As a result of the timing, both Mildred and Henry were married in uniform. Because of the wartime housing shortage, they lived with Henry’s parents for almost two years. In 1946, their first daughter, Ilene, was born, followed by Pamela in 1950 In 1951, Henry and Mildred with their two young daughters moved to Shenandoah, Pennsylvania. For years Henry was the owner and manager of R. Sorin and Company, which was a scrap yard. He particularly enjoyed living in a small town of friendly people. He seemed to be in his element. During his time in Shenandoah, Henry was an active member of the Community. He was a leader in the Kehillat Israel Synagogue rising to the office of President. HIs presidency could be characterized as dignified, businesslike and successful. Henry enjoyed making presentations to the congregation. He had a wry sense of humor and was well received. An active member of the Lions Club, he performed many mitzvot.Henry always watched the nightly news with Mildred and was current with all major events. The New York Times was delivered to their home daily and over the weekends. He was also a voracious reader, enjoying all genres. Every bookcase in their home was overflowing with books, magazines and newspapers. Ten years after Mildred’s passing, Henry relocated to the Hebrew Home in West Hartford, Connecticut, to be closer to one of his daughters. Henry died in 1997.

Gertrude Kempner Davison Weisbrod Biography

  • Gertrude was born in Brooklyn, New York on January 29th, 1922 to Rachel and Isaac Kempner. She had an older brother, Lawrence (Larry) and a younger one, Manuel (Manny). Gert, as she was known, attended school in Brooklyn until her senior year of high school when her family moved to Schuylkill Haven, Pennsylvania. The move tookplace because her father was transferred to a job in Pennsylvania from a shoe factory in Brooklyn. An affable young woman, Gert enjoyed living in the coal regions where all the small town’s young Jewish adults would participate in social functions. Gert met Jules S. Davison at one of these social gatherings. They  married on July 4th, 1941 when Gert was 19 years old. The wedding took place at the Davison summer cottage in Lakeside at the bedside of Jules’s mother, Bessie, who was quite ill and passed away a few months later. The newlywed couple had many friends and enjoyed an active social life. Within the first year of their marriage, Bessie and Leonard, Jules’s parents both passed away leaving behind Max (8 years), Ruby (13 years), and Bernard known as BT (20 years). Gert and Jules immediately took care of Jules’s siblings; all lived above the Davison  Furniture Store on North Main Street in Shenandoah. They then became parents to Irwin, their first child. Soon thereafter, Gert’s father, Isaac, passed away leaving his ill wife, Rachel, and their children; Larry (in his early 20s) who joined the Navy and Manny (16 years). Gert and Jules found themselves fully responsible for both of their entire families. After moving to a large house on White Street, Leonard was born. The household was very busy providing for such a large extended family. Gert was a very sociable and popular young woman. She became the Hospitality Chairperson of the regional Hadassah chapter and the Sisterhood of the Kehillat Israel Congregation. After a number of years, when all the siblings grew up and had lives of their own, Gert and Jules built a house on the Shenandoah Heights. One summer in the 1960s they traveled to the young State of Israel. Gert enjoyed playing bridge with her friends. Bridge provided the opportunity for them to socialize. Having fun and enjoying each other’s company was the real reason for their weekly gathering. Gert was usually the life of the party and had an infectious laugh. During the summers, she and Jules moved to the family cottage in Lakeside. An avid swimmer, Gert escaped from all the family and friends who would
    relax at the cottage, by walking down to the lake for her daily solitary swim. When Gert was 42 years old, her beloved Jules passed away. After three years as a widow, she remarried Dr. Lawrence (Larry) Weisbrod and moved to Allentown where she continued her active social life and thoroughly enjoyed her new community. She became a consistent benefactor to UJA and was an enthusiastic supporter of the State of Israel. Gert was a kind and generous mother-in-law to Ilene Hershinson
    Davison, also of Shenandoah. She took great pride in her grandchildren, Jill Sara, Joshua Ari and Josh’s wife, Robin Lorell.
    Known as Nani, she was a loving great grandmother to Derek, Samuel and Shaine. Gert passed away on March 7, 2015 at the age of 93.