Geraldine Foster

Member of Temple Beth El; married there in 1950

“No one ever said to me, ‘where’s your ticket?'”

Geraldine Foster
: I was born in Rochester, New York. We came to Rhode Island in 1936.

On Friday nights, there was a cadre of people who came hell or high water.

My family joined [Temple Beth El] in 1947. My sister was married there. I was married there in 1950.

It was very nice. We had a flowered chuppah [canopy under which the couple stands during a Jewish wedding]. There was a chuppah. Everything was white. It was beautiful. You had to come down those stairs in front. The whole idea is that you go up to the synagogue, that’s why they were there. But coming down in a wedding dress is kind of tough, [in] high heels.

The building had been built in 1911. It was 1944. For three years during the war years you couldn’t get any materials. And it was small, and the membership was growing, and the membership was leaving South Providence.

Geraldine Foster

Geraldine Foster

The East Side was the place to live, and so they moved and more and more people were moving there. They were leaving the synagogue behind.

What does a synagogue mean? A synagogue itself is a building. That’s why I say it’s what you bring to it. It’s not what the building is.

I loved the place. I really did. Even though I didn’t go to religious school there, I didn’t go to Sunday school. But going to shul Friday night, no one ever said to me, “where’s your ticket?”

There was a certain quality that I liked. There was a decorum. I don’t mean a stiffness, but an attitude as far as decorum is concerned that was very important to me and helped shape who I was.

It’s the congregation that are the people that give everything to the building. Because the building itself is four walls.

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