Members of Shaare Zedek
“It was like home, because this was where I became Orthodox.”
Roberta Winkleman: Well, I remember when I was in kindergarten, so I was about four and half and five. How I would come on Friday night with my father.
Joe Winkleman: My mother, she used to remember when she first moved to Providence – you know this was Temple Beth El, a Reform temple. She saw ushers outside wearing tuxedos. And she always used to talk about how impressed she was to see this. This was Beth El. This was Reform days, not Orthodox days.
By the time I started coming here, the place was already on decline and Friday night services were held in the chapel behind, up in back.
All the people who put all their time into this place. Like Joe Margolis. And it was like home, because this was where I became Orthodox.
It was dying. It was already dying in the late sixties and early seventies.
I just see all the people. So many people. It slowly, slowly emptied. Every year there would be a couple less. The High Holidays were when the crowds were the biggest. It just kept on emptying out. They’d die or move away.
I guess so much of this is remnants of the war. I’ve thought about this. Without all of those people who came at the end of the Second World War, I don’t think they necessarily would have bought this building. There wouldn’t have been that much need. There was a big influx. But once that influx was gone, there was never another influx.
There were a lot of people who escaped Europe who ended up in buildings like this all over the country. And they were — still had the remnants of their Orthodoxy.
That’s what happens. Shaare Zedek withers on the vine.
It’s a shame. I’m glad it was here for me.