By Eleanor Bobrow
Temple Covenant of Peace
This year marks the 175th anniversary of the founding of Temple Covenant of Peace in Easton.
In 1752, 11 Jewish families left the ghetto life in Germany and travelled to a place called Easton with the hope of making a place to live, work, worship and be free. By 1839, the Reform congregation Temple Covenant of Peace was established.
The Temple is honored to have Elaine (nee Malkin) Berk as the one member of the congregation who was born into and named in the congregation, attended religious school, was bat mitzvahed, and attended confirmation and post-confirmation classes. She was also married by Rabbi Joshua Trachtenberg, of blessed memory.
One day while being driven by Rabbi Jerald Bobrow, of blessed memory, to Philadelphia to visit her sick mother, the rabbi suggested that Elaine consider reading from the Torah on Yom Kippur. She accepted the idea and read so beautifully that he sent her a thank you note inviting her to consider making this an annual event and to this day, Elaine reads from Leviticus at the afternoon Torah service on Yom Kippur. We are indeed blessed to have her as a loyal member of Temple Covenant of Peace as we celebrate our 175th anniversary.
Temple Covenant of Peace has traveled a long way to become the congregation it is today – where all are welcomed whether they are members of the congregation or visitors from Phillipsburg, Bethlehem, Brooklyn or India. If you attend services at Covenant of Peace and are new to the community or are visiting family or friends, you are welcomed as “a member of the family,” for indeed, once you enter the walls of Covenant of Peace, we are all God’s children and welcomed as family. After the lighting of the Shabbat candles, Rabbi Melody Davis invites all in attendance to “get up out of their seats and find a face that they do not know and introduce yourself and wish them Shabbat Shalom.” There is a sense of joy and shalom as we participate in services, singing and sometimes dancing.
This sense of joy and commitment is also experienced by the children of the religious school who have formed a junior choir from grades one through high school replete with khaki pants and matching tee shirts featuring the Temple Covenant of Peace emblem.
The sense of joy and identity was also expressed by last year’s bar and bat mitzvah class – all 12 students made the decision to attend confirmation classes this year.
As Rabbi Trachtenberg once asked in the dedication of his book, “Consider the Years,” how does one say happy anniversary to a thing of stone and wood, yet a structure which for 175 years has housed the prayers and songs, the sorrow and joys, tears and laughter of dedicated souls as more than stick and stone? It has become the living symbol of the undying faith and hope, the face and image of 175 years of aspirations; therefore, thank you to Temple Covenant of Peace and all the devoted men and women and children who have cherished and sustained Temple Covenant of Peace for 175 years and to Rabbi Melody Davis, Cantor Jill Pakman and the president and board for their inspirational leadership.
There will be many events to celebrate Temple Covenant of Peace’s 175th anniversary. On Sunday, Nov. 2, we kick off the celebration with an old-fashioned community birthday party. The religious school children will plant 175 bulbs. On Friday, Nov. 7, those who have been members for 25 years or more will be honored. A gala will begin at 6:30 p.m. and includes a havdalah service, kosher sit-down dinner and dancing.
For more information, contact the Temple at 610-253-2031.