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Wright Synagogue Receives Another Prestigious Honor

September 18, 2008 By:
Michelle Mostovy-Eisenberg, JE Feature
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A new state historic marker details some of the history of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Beth Sholom synagogue in Elkins Park.

On Sunday, Sept. 21, sunny skies and a mild breeze greeted the more than 70 people who'd gathered on the front lawn of Beth Sholom Congregation to honor the historic structure that towered behind them -- the Mt. Sinai-inspired synagogue designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright -- which has been recognized with a state historic marker.

Just before noon, during an outdoor ceremony, clergy, congregants and Hebrew school students listened as congregation president Fred Wolfson; Wayne Spilove, chairman of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission; and several local elected officials spoke of the importance of the building.

The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission's historic marker program recognizes important people, events and landmarks in an effort to preserve their memory for future generations.

"I've driven up this road no less than 1,000 times," remarked Spilove. "I've always been fascinated by [the synagogue], but never been in it."

Until last Sunday.

As the blue-and-yellow marker was unveiled, those present recited the Shehecheyanu prayer and then sang Siman tov.

The wording on the marker reads: "Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and built with the collaboration of Rabbi Mortimer J. Cohen, this National Historic Landmark was completed in 1959. Wright's only synagogue evokes the biblical Mt. Sinai in modern materials of concrete, steel, aluminum, and glass."

Cohen served as rabbi from 1920 until 1964, and was then rabbi emeritus until 1972. The shul was the last Wright-designed property (which Spilove described as "a magnificent structure") completed before his death.

The marker is situated on the slope of the synagogue's property, 10 feet from the eastern edge of Old York Road. 

 

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