A History Continued
While the Columbus Jewish community remained divided into two congregations, they united to help Jews in need. In 1939, Columbus Jews worked to bring in Jewish refugees from Germany. Victor Kiralfy was chairman of a coordinating committee that tried to bring a refugee family to Columbus every month, until the war made it impossible. Simon and Ruth Schwob also played a leading role in these efforts. Simon Schwob led the way in organizing the Columbus Jewish Welfare Federation in 1944. Their organizing meeting was held in Schwob’s office, and the clothing manufacturer served as the federation’s first president. During Israel’s 1967 War, the federation conducted an emergency fund drive which raised $110,000 for the Jewish state. When Israel was attacked on Yom Kippur in 1973, the Columbus Jewish Welfare Federation raised $170,000 for the Israeli war effort. In the 1960s, Shearith Israel started a nursery school for the children of the congregation. Later, the school became a Jewish community nursery school under the auspices of the Jewish Welfare Federation. The school closed in 1989.
While Shearith Israel and Temple Israel remain separate viable congregations, they have often worked together for the betterment of local Jews and the larger community. They both joined the Wynnton Neighborhood Network, an association of six area churches that worked to help the needy. In 1984, Temple Israel established a food bank with St. Thomas Episcopal Church. After a year at Temple Israel, the project moved to the church, which had more room. In 1977, the two Jewish congregations merged their 8th, 9th, and 10th grade religious school classes. Rabbi Goodman of Temple Israel and Rabbi Feldman of Shearith Israel worked together to teach these classes along with members of both congregations. In the early 1990s, both religious schools were shrinking, and they decided to merge them completely. According to Jean Kiralfy Kent, a member of Temple Israel, “the path has not always been smooth, but the school has endured for the betterment of our children.”
The Jewish community of Columbus remains an example of what a small Jewish community can accomplish. It is spiritually vibrant, progressive, and forward thinking. We invite you to become part of it.