Congregation Leshem Shomayim in Wheeling West Virginia
Founded in 1849 by German
speaking Jews, Leshem Shomayim (for the sake of Heaven)
in Wheeling, West Virginia was the state's first Jewish
The congregation's evolution from its
original German-speaking traditional (Orthodox) Judaism to
Reform Judaism included these events:
1865 - replaces its
Orthodox siddur with a prayer
book composed by Rabbi David Einhorn, then champion of the radical wing of Classical Reform.
1877 - translates constitution and bylaws to English.
1892 - joins UAHC (Union
of American Jewish Congregations) founded in 1873; now URJ (Union
for Reform Judaism).
For more on the congregation's
history visit Julian Preisler's
West Virginia Jewish History web site and the
Ohio County Library site.
Eoff Street Temple,
constructed in 1892, used until 1974. Photo 1904.
The sanctuary of the
Eoff Street Temple
Source: Temple Shalom archives
Temple Shalom on Bethany
Pike - now
Photo by Arnold Berger May 2006
Leshem Shomayim and
a Conservative congregation are now
combined as Temple Shalom (Reform), Wheeling's only synagogue. This
consolidation was discussed in a PBS documentary, "The
Congregation". Temple Shalom's web address is
May 1915 Leshem Shomayim needs a rabbi
On display in a credenza
in the lobby of Temple Shalom are several large books, bound in red
leather. They hold Leshem Shomayim's old handwritten minutes.
The minutes of June 25, 1914 record
the election of Louis D. Gross as rabbi for the two years 1914-16.
Unfortunately Rabbi Gross, having previously held himself available to
The congregation, then
known as the Eoff Street Temple (pronounced "oaf"), soon elected Morris S. Lazaron, just
graduated from Hebrew Union College, as its rabbi at an annual salary of
$2,500 to serve two years through June 1916. (More on Lazaron)
Near the end of the first year of
his two year contract, Rabbi Lazaron announced that he had accepted a
position at the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation. In May 1915, for the
third time in two years,
Leshem Shomayim needed a new rabbi.
Silver comes to Wheeling
In June 1915 Abba Hillel
Silver had graduated from the University of Cincinnati and been
ordained by the Hebrew Union College. In four years he had
completed his work at both institutions, earning awards from
both. But Silver, valedictorian of
his HUC class, had no pulpit.
rabbinic program is five
years - after an
undergraduate degree - a total of nine years of study.
On Friday evening and Saturday
morning June 18-19, 1915 he visited Wheeling, conducted services
at Eoff Street Temple and "delivered a splendid sermon".
of a Leshem Shomayim meeting on Saturday June 19 record the selection of Rabbi A
H Silver as rabbi for one year, effective September 1, 1915, at
a salary of $2,500.
Now Abba Hillel Silver, only
22 years old, had a pulpit.
From Wheeling's Register
June 19, 1915