100 Year Anniversary of Joplin’s Jewish Temple Open House
Historic Murphysburg Preservation, Inc. (HMP) will partner with the United Hebrew Congregation of Joplin when the doors of the iconic Jewish temple at 702 South Sergeant Avenue will open to the public on Sunday, June 12, 2016 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. This event is in commemoration of the 100 year anniversary of Joplin’s most unique building of its kind and the area’s only Jewish temple, also known to some as a synagogue.
The exterior is Byzantine-style with oriental trimmings along the lines of a Hebrew temple and a Turkish mosque. The temple was modeled after The Hagia Sophia in modern day Istanbul as sketched by Joplin businessman, Gabe Newburger, of Newman Brothers Department Store while he was traveling in Europe and Asia. The architect was our well-known Joplin resident, Austin Allen. Mr. Allen’s designs of the Elks Club Lodge, the Newman Mercantile Building (present day Joplin City Hall), the Olivia Apartments, St. Peter’s Catholic Church, and his personal home in Murphysburg still remain and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Roberta Shilane of the United Hebrew Congregation said, “Guests will have the rare opportunity to view the beautiful handcrafted wooden ark, which houses the Torah scrolls, and features the hand carved Hebrew letters representing the Ten Commandments.” The tour will also feature the “Tree of Life” appliqued on the curtain inside the ark that refers metaphorically to the Torah, original stained glass windows, wooden pews, a pipe organ, ner tamid (everlasting light), menorahs, Torah scrolls and regalia, and the choir and women’s balcony.
Guests will also be treated to narrated tours, traditional Jewish food, and will learn about the 1970 fire that destroyed the beautiful copper dome and minaret. There will also be opportunities to ask questions about the Jewish religion.
Paula Callihan, HMP committee co-chair said, “When Historic Murphysburg Preservation started our research and communication with the United Hebrew Congregation, we learned that several original Murphysburg homeowners were members of the congregation. We also learned that many prominent names of Joplin such as Thomas Connor and Patrick Murphy, who were not members of the congregation, donated money to the temple’s building fund.” No doubt Misters Connor and Murphy were inspired by Rabbi Leiser’s speech at a fundraiser in April 1916 calling for “…an ornament to the city and be acceptable to all citizens of this district, not merely to the particular worshippers.”
The United Hebrew Congregation web site is www.uhcjoplin.org and Facebook is United Hebrew Congregation of Jopli