, Salem, MA

January 1, 2014

Temple Shalom to sell building


---- — SALEM — The board of directors of Temple Shalom, the only Jewish congregation in the city, has reached a tentative agreement to sell its synagogue on Lafayette Street.

The temple announced yesterday that it has accepted an offer for its 287 Lafayette St. building from Salem Renewal LLC, a local developer that plans to lease the property to Salem State University.

The sale price and terms of the agreement were not announced. The building is assessed for $1.2 million and listed at $1.5 million with the Drumlin Group.

The congregation will vote on the tentative deal Sunday, Jan. 12.

“We’re thrilled to be taking this first step in our merger process,” said Thomas Cheatham, Futures Committee chairman and past president of the temple.

In conjunction with the building sale, Temple Shalom is closing after more than a century in the city and seeking to merge with another Jewish congregation. For the past year, it has been “exploring possible affiliations” with Temples Sinai of Marblehead, B’nai Abraham of Beverly, Ner Tamid of Peabody and Shirat HaYam of Swampscott.

A decision on merger plans is expected to be announced this year.

Founded in 1898 as Sons of Jacob, the Conservative congregation is the “longest continually established synagogue on the North Shore,” according to The Jewish Journal. The current synagogue was built around 1950, when the temple had several hundred members.

Today, membership is down to fewer than 100, and temple officials say they also face financial challenges.

Salem Renewal, which is run by the Pabich family, owners of The Salem Inn, signed a nonbinding agreement last month with Salem State University to lease the property.

Salem State, which has been building dorms and acquiring property in recent years, is considering moving academic programs to the Lafayette Street building, according to an email the college sent to neighbors.

Temple Shalom, which sits on a half-acre, has a main sanctuary that seats 500, two kitchens and a large function facility.

The temple hopes to complete the sale by June, according to a press release.

Tom Dalton can be reached at