It’s 1955, and Baltimore’s Reform Community Is Booming


As Baltimore-area Reform temples experience a contraction in congregations, a look back at the April 8, 1955, edition of the JT shows expansion at Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, Har Sinai Temple and Temple Oheb Shalom, leading to a proposal for a new Reform temple in the Liberty Road corridor.

In the article, “Discuss Plans for Reform Congregation in Rapidly Expanding Liberty Rd. Section,” the subhead notes “Growth of Three Present Reform Congregations Great Over Past Few Years.”

“Plans to organize a new Reform congregation to serve Jewish families in the rapidly expanding Liberty Rd. area were discussed at a meeting of an enthusiastic steering committee at the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation Wednesday evening, March 30,” the article reported.

The proposed Reform temple would target families for membership living in Lochearn, Williamsburg, Millvale, Milford Acres, Milford Mills, Howard Park, Woodmoor, Woodmoor Estates and other Liberty Road corridor neighborhoods not served by a Reform temple.

“We know that many young couples have moved to these suburban locations and many of them have children who are now ready for religious education and training,” Rabbi Samuel Glasner, director of Reform religious education for the three Reform temples, told the JT.

The article noted the most growth occurring at Baltimore Hebrew, which had relocated from Madison Avenue to its present location at Park Heights and Slade in 1951. Since the relocation, the congregation had grown from 750 families to 1,450 and its school from 350 students to more than 1,000. The article also noted plans at Har Sinai and Oheb Shalom to relocate from buildings on Bolton Street and Eutaw Place, respectively, to new buildings on Park Heights Avenue. Both of those congregations also reported more than 30 percent growth in the prior 5-10 years.

“Another reason for the upsurge in Reform temple roles is the concentration of Jewish population in the Northwest section of Baltimore,” the article said. “As more and more families move into the area there are greater demands made upon existing religious facilities.”

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