Tuesday, December 12, 2017

old templeOn Sunday evening, March 19, 1893, two young people, Rebecca Pines and Samuel Rosenblum, were married at Knights of Piths Hall on Hanover Street. The occasion, probably the first Jewish wedding to take place in Manchester, was marked by nearly half a column in The Manchester Union of the next day. The headlines read, "According to Mosaic Law," "Interesting Ceremony in the Local Jewish Colony," and "Wedding Feast and Merry-Making Follow the Nuptials."

Although there is no indication of the reporter who wrote about the occasion, there were details enough to suggest that the event had stirred more than passing interest. "The Jewish colony in the city was very well represented, and long before the hour set for the ceremony the friends of the happy pair began to arrive at the hall." The story went on, At 5:30 four of the gentlemen walked to the center of the room bearing a canopy which they there erected. Then Acting Rabbi Axel stepped in front of the canopy and commenced a chant."

The name of Peter Axel had appeared in the 1892 Manchester City Directory as Rabbi of the Jewish Synagogue at 895 Elm Street, and again the next year when the City Directory placed the Jewish Synagogue on "Central Avenue between Pine and Union." Rebecca and Samuel Rosenblum, both immigrants to America from eastern Europe, became the parents of four children and established a family that represents the paradigm of the American Jewish experience. Less than twenty years later, their eldest and only daughter; Lillian, entered Radcliffe College. She was not the first Manchester Jewish young woman to matriculate at Harvard's sister college. Two had preceded her, but she represented the pattern of educational achievement that marked the emerging Jewish community. Two brothers became dentists, one a physician.

When the Rosenblum parents celebrated their wedding day, the Jewish community of Manchester was a little more than a decade old. The first recorded Jewish resident may have been A. Wolf, who is reported to have arrived in Manchester on July 14, 1880. Perhaps there were others before him, but the permanent Jewish community started about 1880. Certainly the need for a place of worship was recognized early, and the first record of an established synagogue was in 1889 at 1058 Elm Street. Then known as "B'nai Jeshurun", it held services every Saturday from 8 to 10a.m. Officers included Solomon Sullivan, president, and Morris Cohen, vice president. B'naijeshurun was the direct ancestor of Congregation Adath Yeshurun, for the Sullivan and Cohen names appear repeatedly in the early records of the synagogue until well after Adath Yeshurun had been incorporated. "Sullivan" may seem a strange name for a practicing Jew, but the name was one of many similar adaptations to a new country. Solomon Sullivan had been born "Soloveitchik" and had acquired his new name about the time he came to America. Other members of the family changed the name to "Nightingale," a literal translation from the Russian meaning.