The Rhode Island Jewish Museum at Sons of Jacob Congregation, 24 Douglas Ave., Providence, is open for private tours. On Friday, Nov. 29, the Landesberg family, led by Melvin Landesberg, arranged to tour the building with their extended family from Odessa, Delray Beach and Tampa, Florida, as well as Franklin, Massachusetts, Rockville and Silver Spring, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. They gathered below the main entrance steps to rediscover generations of family and share stories about the Rhode Island Jewish immigrant experience. During the hour-long tour, members of the clan learned about the architecture as well as the murals painted throughout the building. They also discovered how a working-class congregation celebrated their Eastern European heritage by building a three-story synagogue in Providence.
Memorial plaques with family names were viewed. Grandmother Ida Glazer’s name was found listed prominently on the large plaque at the front of the main sanctuary. Uncles David and Sidney Glazer were recalled as their names are listed on the WWII wooden memorial at the rear wall of the main sanctuary. Harriet Landesberg, Ida’s daughter and Melvin’s mother, was among many others who were fondly remembered because the building still stands. Each of these guests made their own personal connections to generations of family and friends who had not been remembered in a long time.
This ability to rediscover your own family tree, to see the larger picture of how an immigrant population made its way in a new city is one part of the mission of the Rhode Island Jewish Musem. Saving the historic Sons of Jacob synagogue building for future generations is another. There is much that needs to be done to keep this monument intact. To learn about how you can help save the building or to arrange a private tour for your own group, visit the www.rhodeislandjewishmuseum.org or call 401-935-9740.
Submitted by RIJM