Photographs of current members engaged in life cycle events and social action projects are interspersed with archival depictions of the long and rich history of Rodef Shalom Congregation in a slim but lovely book marking the congregation’s 150th anniversary, and the 100th anniversary of its landmark Fifth Avenue building.
“Rodef Shalom Congregation 150 Years of Living by Jewish Values,” was published as a gift to the members of Western Pennsylvania’s oldest Jewish congregation, and the area’s largest Reform congregation, in honor of its two special anniversaries last year.
Rodef Shalom has been archiving its history for the last 10 years, said Anne Molloy, the librarian and past president of the congregation who oversaw the creation of the book. “We wanted to make use of our history through today’s lens.”
Photographs of Rodef Shalom’s Biblical Botanical Gardens, its historic cemetery, and its past and current rabbis are all featured in the book.
The congregation wished to employ the theme of its anniversary year — “living by Jewish values” — into a book depicting how those values have sustained the congregation throughout the years, Molloy said.
“It’s a view to the past organized through those values.”
The book is arranged into six short chapters: Enriching the Spirit, Nurturing Youth and Families, Fostering Interfaith Understanding, Repairing the Fabric of Community, Promoting Worldwide Social Justice and Embracing Lifelong Jewish Learning. A timeline lending a glimpse into the congregation’s most important moments also is provided.
“We didn’t want to just do a history of the congregation,” said Molloy. “We wanted a snapshot of who we are today. And the book does speak to who we are today through the values that have sustained us.”
(Toby Tabachnick can be reached at (firstname.lastname@example.org)