Temple Shalom in Colorado Springs has a golden anniversary coming up in 2021.
In the mid-1960s, the two existing Jewish congregations in Colorado Springs — Reform Beth-El and Conservative B’nei Israel — were having difficulty finding and funding full-time rabbis for their needs. The synagogues had been successful in sharing a religious school for three to four years, but the boards of the two synagogues were unable to agree on basic religious practices, so they continued to struggle separately.
In 1970, prominent Jewish community member Fred Sondermann insisted they give it another try, and the two congregations merged into Temple Shalom.
Sondermann became the new congregation’s first president.
A diligent group has been planning the anniversary celebration over the past two years. Carrie Trookman and her 22-member committee have made plans to bring the event to the community’s attention with several events throughout the coming year.
The committee had the idea to present the anniversary in different ways, spaced through late 2020 and early 2021.
“We wanted to make sure we included all Temple Shalom members in many creative ways throughout the year,” Trookman says.
“Our community is rich with more than 50 years of memories and traditions, and we believe our story is worth telling and celebrating many times over.”
Many of the events incorporated into the annual activities are already occurring at Temple Shalom. According to Trookman, the committee decided to join events already on the temple calendar and introduce a 50th year theme into these, instead of trying to create new events.
A challenge at this time was to plan for virtual and hybrid events, in addition to on-site activities, due to the coronavirus.
The festivities begin next month as part of the Back to Shul Day, Sunday, Aug. 30.
The original plan was to host a table with golden decorations appropriate to the 50th, as an addition to the usual outdoor picnic for this annual event.
The other tables will include activities of Temple Shalom’s religious school.
This year, because of COVID-19, the event will be a drive-by experience to see the tables. Included in the tzedakah kits that will be available for the entire congregation will be a calendar with a schedule of events and golden stickers advertising the anniversary.
The goal is to engage all members to begin celebrating the temple’s anniversary at home.
On Oct. 4, 2020, the celebration committee plans to piggyback on the annual Sunday in the Sukkah day at Temple Shalom. Good weather would allow the event to occur outside with opportunity to social distance in the sukkah.
Every year Temple Shalom religious school students make a Sukkot banner with handprints of many colors. This year all participants will sign with golden handprints as a mark of the anniversary, and the 50th anniversary logo will adorn the banner as well.
The organizers hope that by the November event, congregants will be able to participate on-site for membership Shabbat, which would feature a dinner at the temple, with decorations and announcements honoring the temple’s anniversary and special honors to those congregants who have been members for more than 25 years.
In case the in-person gathering cannot take place, the anniversary committee has a Plan B: delivering a celebratory basket to each participant that includes wine, challah and gold candles.
The fun continues in February, 2021, with a ‘50s sock hop as part of the Purim carnival.
For Shabbat Across America in March, Trookman and her committee plan to honor those congregants who have been temple members for more than 50 years.
She says, “these people, including our temple founders, have had a big impact on our community.”
The honorees will also be named as honorary chairs for the gala in April.
Also planned, date and time to be determined, is a special evening wine and cheese event to honor Dr. Perry Bach, who has written a book on the Jewish history of Colorado Springs and has completed many hours of research on temple congregants and their contributions to the Colorado Springs Jewish community.
The year-long anniversary celebration reaches its culmination with a long-awaited gala at the temple in April, 2021.
For this extravaganza, there will be dinner, dancing with a live band, and photographs of 50 years of Temple Shalom. The featured theme, of course, is gold.
Copyright © 2020 by the Intermountain Jewish News