Today is February 17, 2020 -
Jews settled in the Chippewa Valley by 1854. A Jewish cemetery was established in 1885 and the Chippewa Valley Ladies’ Aid Society was established as a Jewish charitable and communal organization in 1897. A religious school was in operation in 1905, probably established some years earlier.
The congregation held High Holy Day services in rented spaces such as the Eau Claire Hotel or the Knights of Pythias and met for other events in members’ homes. The Wesleyan Church was purchased as the first permanent synagogue space and services were first conducted in 1960. In 1969, Temple Sholom formally affiliated with United Synagogue of America, the organization of Conservative Judaism, and continues to maintain that affiliation through the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.
Temple Sholom was in the forefront of introducing gender-equality into ritual practice and the structure of Jewish benevolent organizations. In 1972, Temple Sholom was one of the first Conservative synagogues in the country to allow women to be counted for minyan (10 adult Jews) required for the recitation of certain prayers and to honor women by calling them to recite the blessings on the Torah. Also in 1972, the men’s B’nai Brith chapter voted to drop the clause limiting membership to men, and thus combined the men’s and women’s chapters. This action received national attention.
Over the years, a number of rabbis came from the Minneapolis/St. Paul area to conduct High Holy Day services and for such special events as weddings, funerals and bar mitzvah celebrations. Rabbi Louis Milgrom performed these services from 1960 until the late 1980s. Rabbi Milgrom also taught courses on Judaism and the Holocaust in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, supported by special funds donated by the L.E. Phillips Family Foundation. Since Rabbi Milgrom’s retirement, the courses were most recently taught by Dr. Jonathan Paradise, a faculty member at the University of Minnesota.
In 1989 the seemingly impossible task of securing a permanent rabbi began to be discussed. Stimulated by a matching grant from the L.E. Phillips Family Foundation, the congregation was able to raise sufficient funds to support a rabbi. Rabbi Yosi Gordon was the community’s first permanent, albeit part-time, rabbi and was Rabbi of Temple Sholom and chief rabbi of the Chippewa Valley from 1990 until Rosh Hashana 5969 (Sept. 2008). The search for a successor for Rabbi Gordon was concluded in the Spring of 2008, when Rabbi Jonathan Perlman was selected. Rabbi Perlman was the Rabbi for a year. After him, the Temple tried to survive without having a Rabbi available to us. The community found this a difficult time and happily, we were then able to find our current Rabbi, Shosh Dworski. Shosh has been with the congregation for the past few years. She brings so much to our congregation with her incredible knowledge and beautiful musical talents.
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