With its building marking 100 years in Squirrel Hill, Congregation Beth Shalom commemorated the milestone by gathering in celebration and planning for the future.
Past presidents, current board members, congregants and friends flocked to the building’s social hall on Nov. 20 for a centennial event. The post-Shabbat affair featured food, dancing and an evening of fun.
The event was about “having a great time” and recognizing past presidents for their decades of commitment to the congregation, Beth Shalom Executive Director Robert E. Gleiberman said.
As a symbol of appreciation, each honoree was presented with a large mounted key.
Rabbi Andy Shugerman, Beth Shalom’s development director, credited the congregation’s leadership with ensuring that Beth Shalom remains a “pillar of the Squirrel Hill community and a leading voice of inclusive Conservative Judaism in western Pennsylvania.”
The party was a great way of celebrating the structure’s longevity, said Beth Shalom President Alan Kopolow, but it’s also “time for us to start taking better care of our building.”
The first step toward that goal, Kopolow said, was revealed last month.
On Oct. 27, state Rep. Dan Frankel announced that Beth Shalom — along with five other local institutions — was eligible to receive dollar-for-dollar matching funds as part of Pennsylvania’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program.
Frankel’s announcement was exciting, Kopolow said.
The congregation was awarded $1 million, which will go toward repairing water damage to the “structural envelope” of the synagogue’s building, installing new roofs and solar panels, replacing HVAC and boiler systems and installing energy-efficient LED lighting throughout the building, Shugerman said.
“Our facility is aging, and a lot of work has to be done,” Gleiberman noted.
Since laying its cornerstone a century ago, Beth Shalom has been a constant hub for the community in Squirrel Hill, Shugerman said.
In addition to housing its congregation and related activities, Beth Shalom rents space to La Escuelita Arcoiris, a Spanish-immersion preschool; the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle; and Elegant Edge, a kosher catering company. Additionally, Beth Shalom welcomed New Light Congregation following the Oct. 27, 2018 shooting at the Tree of Life building, where New Light had been located.
As Beth Shalom continues serving the community, more resources are needed to support the building, Shugerman said.
Funding that’s available through the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program marks a “major state investment in our community and in the places we call home,” Frankel said in a statement.
Gleiberman and Shugerman credited Frankel, state Sen. Jay Costa, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Mayor Ed Gainey, U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle and numerous Beth Shalom volunteers with preparing necessary paperwork for the grant, helping to secure funding and ensuring the congregation’s future.
“We’re very excited about this,” Kopolow said. “We have lots of work to do.” PJC
Adam Reinherz can be reached at email@example.com.