When Rabbi Emeritus Richard B. Safran visited Fort Wayne in September 2014, he reflected on his 26 years as Achduth Vesholom’s spiritual leader during an interview done as part of the Temple’s efforts to chronicle the history of our congregation and Jews in Northeast Indiana.
In a wide-ranging conversation, Rabbi Safran shared thoughts on the shift from Classical Reform to Traditional Reform when he arrived at Achduth Vesholom in 1969, as the congregation transitioned to the young rabbi after 30 years under the leadership of Rabbi Frederic Doppelt. Rabbi Safran and several other long-time members are among the first to share memories of earlier days at the Temple as we prepare for the proposed Resource Center as part of the Rifkin Campus at 5200.
“The Campus is a wonderful opportunity,” said Rabbi Safran, who became Rabbi Emeritus in 1995 and now lives in Tucson. “I hope it creates a sense of unity for the Jewish community…and shows the commitment of people who care about the future.”
During the first interview conducted by Rena Black with Videographer Gary Kasunic, Betty Stein, 98, talked about becoming the congregation’s first female board member and first woman president. In another conversation, Leonard and Rikki Goldstein discussed Jewish life in Fort Wayne from the mid-1940s forward and talked about the planning and building of our current building. Betty Fishman, who has been involved with the Temple’s art collection for many decades, recalled life at the Temple and Fort Wayne from 1948 to the present, her long and continuing role with the Arts and Beautification Committee, and memories of Rabbi Doppelt and his wife, Lucille.
Resource Center Director Jan Sarratore and Eileen Baitcher helped develop the oral history questions for use with the interview subjects. They also supervised intern Madison Hincks over the summer on several projects, including research on the Honor Roll Plaque of members who served in World War II, early congregational history, and information on the Bezalel School of Art that influenced pieces in the Temple’s collection.
Funding for the intern and the videographer came through a generous grant from the Dr. Harry W. Salon Foundation. The Resource Center, which will include our new museum and library, will incorporate displays on local Jewish history. Last summer, a group of congregants visited The History Center to meet with Curator Walter Font and Exhibitor Randy Elliot to learn more about setting up exhibits and historical displays. Led by Jan, the group included Museum Committee Co-Chair Maureen Grinsfelder, Campus Co-chairs John Stein and Sally Trotter, Architect Richard Wismer, and Program Vice President Beth Zweig.