Our Congregation began many years ago when a group of Jewish families in Erie started a burial society. After that, they built the first Anshe Hesed Temple in 1882. The Jewish community of people who were settling in Erie was growing and could not continue meeting in each other’s homes. Someone said, “Let us build a Temple and Jews will come.” A Temple definitely needed to be constructed in order to celebrate the High Holy Days and a place to hold Shabbat Services. In fact, the first service ever held at the 8th Street Temple was the Rosh Hashanah Service in 1883. It is ironic that this Rosh Hashanah will be our last in this building.
Those early Erie Jews who gathered together on 8th Street grew into what we have today, Congregation Temple Anshe Hesed, people of Loving-Kindness. It is up to us to honor those who came before us, who built and maintained our Temple, by keeping it alive and passing it to the next generation. I am honored and humbled to be the President, but I need your help. It takes all of us to keep Temple Anshe Hesed alive and well. My goal is that our children and grandchildren will have Anshe Hesed so they can have a place to fulfill their spiritual needs.
This year is so special as we begin to say goodbye to our Jewish home for the past 87 years. There is so much familial history contained in these sacred walls and leaving is bittersweet to many in our congregation. Although I have no children, I am so proud to have known and taught many children through the Gesher school and watching them go out into the world and learn of their successes. The parents of these children should be proud. Everyone should be proud of the job well done in raising their children and being such a big part of Anshe Hesed life. Even those who have had no children please know that you too have positively impacted these young lives and enriched the fabric of our congregation. Today, we are ensuring Anshe Hesed will continue to have history in Erie, Pennsylvania. It will take all hands to help shape and mold and nurture our new place of worship. Regardless, of whether you are a younger Jew, an older Jew, or a new Jew, we are in this together. We are Ki’lal Yisrael and we will thrive.
“Ketivah v’chatima tovah, A good inscription and sealing [in the Book of Life].”
Edie Joseph, Temple President.