The History of our Sisterhood
In 1874, one year after Virginia Street Temple was organized, our very dedicated women organized the ladies Hebrew Benevolent Society with a focus on charity at home and away. In 1984, our generous Ladies donated a Ten Commandments stained glass window to the Temple. It now illuminates our foyer at Temple Israel.
By 1914 we were fifty members strong and were led by Mrs. Ben Baer when we linked to the National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods. As women are prone to do, our name was changed to the Virginia Street Temple Sisterhood at that time. During the 1920s the Jewish Braille Institute gained support by resourceful women that was carried through the 1950-60s when tape recordings were made. In 1928 the Cradle Roll was in place for preschoolers, a program that touched many lives and created many memories. In 1982, it was rekindled, providing holiday parties for preschoolers and their parents. At this time (2017) we do not have a Cradle Roll program.
During the Second World War, a Sewing Circle was organized to make garments for various charitable organizations, to knit sweaters and gloves for service men and roll bandages with the Red Cross. In 1943, sales of our FIRST cookbook, “What’s Cooking,” purchased a Red Cross Bloodmobile for Cairo, Egypt which displayed the name of the energetic and charitable Women of the Virginia Street Temple Sisterhood, Charleston, WV USA.
From 1945 to the present we can boast of having our name placed on an honor roll for Uniongrams and the YES Fund. In 1950 the first Interfaith luncheon in the Kanawha Valley was held at our Temple with 250 in attendance. The year 2017 marked the 67th anniversary of the interfaith luncheon with no years missed. The fifties were also busy. We started our first Holland bulb sale with 2017 being our 63rd sale! In the mid-fifties two institutes on Judaism were sponsored for the purpose of preventing prejudice.
In 1960 our congregation moved into our present building and with that move, we once again changed our name. We became “Temple Israel Sisterhood.” We provided funds for the new Ark as well as pledges for the new kitchen, the Sisterhood lounge and the library. We are very proud of Or Ami awards during the 1970s for organizing a volunteer Citizens Recycling Center that operated for sixteen years and for presenting a Jewish Holiday exhibit at the local children’s museum. In the 1990s our bold members sold 5,255 House Pins” earning $21,020 for the benefit of the Sojourner’s Shelter playground.
In 2017 our Sisterhood continues its support and contributions to Temple life by sponsoring the High Holy Days reception with the Temple Board and the Break-the-Fast. We have an outreach program to our college youth, pulpit flowers, and a Care Committee that reaches out to those in time of need. We are active in our community through our work with the Kanawha Valley Interfaith Council, Manna Meal and the YWCA Sojourner’s Shelter for Homeless Women & Families. Proceeds from the sale of our cookbook, “Kitchen Mavens’ Recipes” was used to refurbish our Sisterhood Lounge.
Temple Israel Sisterhood remains a strong and vibrant organization. Join us and become part of this rich history!