Edward Medros will be there. Herbie Kupersmith will be there. And so will the other pillars of the Jewish community in Chelsea who have worked hard to keep the historic Walnut Street Synagogue in existence.
This Sunday, Medros, the current president of the shul, and Kupersmith, whose fundraising efforts have been essential through the years, will be joined by more than 200 people at the Walnut Street Synagogue’s Founders’ Day Celebration.
“We’ve been planning this event since July, 2018,” said Medros in an interview before he was honored by the Chelsea City Council Monday night. “We’re honoring the founders of the synagogue. The theme is ‘honoring the past, building for the future.”
Medros said the planning committee’s goal with the event has been to identify and celebrate the immigrants who started the synagogue and identify any of the descendants of the founders.
“We also want to showcase the strength of the synagogue after 132 years,” Medros related. “We want to thank those people who fled Eastern Europe and the persecution there and came here to start a better life and make a better life for their children.”
He noted that Chelsea was once home to more than 20,000 Jews.
“Chelsea once had 25 synagogues,” he said. “Today there is one orthodox [Walnut Street] and one conservative [Temple Emmanuel] synagogue left in the city.”
Medros said the planning committee consists of Herbie Kupersmith, Richie Zabot, Harold Mindel, Sheila Watnick, Tom Barth, Ellen Rovner, Carmella Cavallaro, Carol Clingan, Elaine Cohen, and Devra Zabot.
A celebration for all
Sunday’s event will begin with a “Todah Reception” at 1:30 p.m. that will recognize the sponsors and key contributors who made the event possible.
There will be hors d’oeuvres and light refreshments from 2 to 3 p.m. during which guests can view the many artifacts and take a tour the synagogue.
At 3 p.m., Medros will deliver the opening remarks for the speaking program. City Manager Tom Ambrosino and Councillor-at-Large Leo Robinson will bring the official greetings from city government.
Chelsea native Harold Mindel, a long-time and widely admired member of the congregation, will also address the gathering. Sheldon Young will present a special song for the occasion.
The distinguished guest speakers are Samuel D. Gruber, international art and architecture history, and Norman H. Finklestein, Chelsea Jewish historian, who will provide insights on Jewish life within the city during and after the turn of the century.
Local genealogist Carol Clingan, who conducts research on behalf of the synagogue, will be available to founders’ descendants looking to learn more about their ancestry.
There will be a klezmer band providing musical entertainment and a dessert reception.
Future plans call
for a Jewish museum
The event will also mark the announcement of plans to create the Chelsea Jewish Museum and Cultural Center at the Walnut Street Synagogue. Going forward, the center will feature cultural events and an exhibit of its collection of early Jewish artifacts, religious books, and photographs.
Ed Medros continues
his efforts at the shul
Ed Medros has been involved in the Walnut Street Synagogue since 1976 after a fire destroyed the Elm Street Synagogue.
“My parents [Harold and Sarah Medros] were originally members of the Elm Street Synagogue and after the fire there, we followed the rabbi [Nochum Cywiak] to Walnut Street.”
He was involved in the shul’s restoration project in 1991. Seven years ago Herb Kupersmith asked Medros to become more involved and he assumed the role as president of the shul.
“We have about 100 active congregants and on the High holidays, we’ll get between 50 and 125 people,” said Medros.
“Sunday is going to be a great celebration,” he added. “As Ellen Rovner says, Chelsea has always had a strong immigration history. Chelsea has diversity so you have various groups that have emigrated here and made this city their home.”
Medros concluded by noting that the Walnut Street Synagogue is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
“We’re quite proud of that designation,” said Medros. “There’s not many synagogues that can say that. There’s not many synagogues that have an ark built by Sam Katz and a painted ceiling by a gentleman named Mr. Spector. And it seats 1,109 people.”
Earlier this year Ed Medros was selected as an Honorable Menschion by the Jewish Journal. This Sunday, Medros will be in the spotlight again, joined by 200 people at the Founders Day celebration who will show their appreciation with their attendance at the event and their continuing support of the 132-year-old synagogue.