Shul Memories


As an avid reader of the Jewish Times and as someone who enjoys all references to those Jewish institutions that were so much a part of my youth in Baltimore and were so meaningful, I thoroughly enjoyed the “Past Presence” series (March 11 and March 18).

I was a bit disappointed that I saw no references to the Poppleton Street Shul, which was located near the B&O Railroad Museum. That was my bubbie and zeyde’s shul where we children would participate in the annual Simchas Torah march around the Shul. I  attended day camp at the YMHA on Monument Street, and most of my Hebrew education, athletics, summer camp employment and social life took place at Beth Tfiloh. I can recall walking the four blocks from my elementary school at Garrison and Maine to Hebrew School at Beth Tfiloh and walking with my friends on Saturday mornings to attend services held in the basement, or “Little Shul,” where Mr. Levi and Mr. Steinharter supervised the student leaders of the service — Larry Kaufman and Jay Karpa.

I was devastated when my father, of blessed memory, joined a group of men from Beth Tfiloh in 1947 to start Beth El so that they could sit with their wives during services. Beth El began in a room upstairs from a Read’s Pharmacy on Liberty Heights and Gwynn Oak avenues and held about 40 people. High Holiday services were held in the Gwynn Movie Theatre next door until Beth El established its first sanctuary and Hebrew school at Hilton and Dorithan roads in Ashburton around 1954.

It’s interesting to see that many of the millennial generation are settling in Fells Point and Canton, where their great-grandparents were when they first came. Keep up the great historical references.


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