SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

May 24, 2014

Salem, Beverly temples to merge in upcoming weeks

SALEM — Temple Shalom, which started here 116 years ago as the Sons of Jacob, will hold its final service next week.

The conservative temple is merging with Temple B’nai Abraham of Beverly.

After months of talks with the Beverly temple and with Temple Sinai in Marblehead, the city’s only Jewish congregation voted 23-22 to merge with B’nai Abraham. Forty-five of 80 eligible voters attended the recent membership meeting.

“They both would have been excellent choices,” said Tom Cheatham, who chaired the Salem temple’s futures committee. “Both have been so warm and welcoming.”

Temple Shalom held a farewell banquet last weekend at the Danversport Yacht Club and will host its final service May 31.

Faced with declining membership and financial challenges, the temple announced plans last summer to merge with another conservative congregation. Temple officials signed a deal this winter to sell its Lafayette Street building to a local developer. The sale is scheduled to close Aug. 1.

Several committees have been formed between the Salem and Beverly temples to work out details of the merger.

“Temple B’nai Abraham is delighted to be able to welcome members of Temple Shalom to its congregational family,” Alan Pierce, president of the Beverly temple, wrote in an email.

“In addition, the merger of two of the oldest synagogues on the North Shore allows Temple B’nai Abraham to perpetuate the history of Temple Shalom, maintain its cemetery and take possession of many of its spiritually and historically important artifacts. Temple Shalom ... will therefore continue in a different way and in a different location. Because of that, its members should be able to find some comfort.”

An ark from Sons of Jacob, which held Torah scrolls, will be moved to the Beverly temple along with other artifacts.

Although a core group from the Salem temple is expected to make the transition to Beverly, Cheatham said he expects some members will attend services in Marblehead or go to other temples. Temple Shalom has members from Salem and a number of area communities.

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