Impressive Ceremonies at Laying of Corner Stone

Front page of The Daily Messenger on 9/29/1913

Front page of The Daily Messenger on 9/29/1913

Another front page article for the HHCRS.  The bulk of it is a speech by I. Grossman, of which multiple handwritten copies survive in the archives.  It’s worth looking at the version from the archive, since it indicates just how much of it was plagiarized!!!

This article also a line which is difficult to read which suggests that they put a time capsule in this cornerstone as they did the previous one… which means it is still there to this day!

(At the end of this post are two articles which preceded this one in the paper: To Lay the Corner Stone Next Sunday (9/22/1913) and History Making Day for the Homestead Jews (9/27/1913), and an editorial from a couple weeks later.

Impressive Ceremonies at Laying of Corner Stone

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Homestead Hebrews Turn out in Mass and Participate in Exercises–Some Excellent Addresses Delivered

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MANY IN ATTENDANCE

Impressive ceremonies marked the laying of the corner stone of the new synagogue of the Homestead Hebrew congregation, Rodef Sholem, on Tenth avenue near McClure street yesterday afternoon. Joseph Lasdusky was master of ceremonies and delivered the opening address. Following the opening prayer by Rabbi Samuel Widom, of Rodef Sholem congregation, Rabbi Aaron Ashinsky of Pittsburg spoke to the congregation in the Hebrew language.

Mr. Lasdusky then introduced Burgess Thomas L. Davis 1 and prefaced the introduction by stating that the Hebrew religion was broad enough to welcome every one of whatever faith to participate in the ceremony and that the golden rule should prevail throughout all humanity. Burgess Davis complimented the Jews of Homestead on their enterprise in erecting such a synagogue which would long stand as a monument to them and that it, as well as all other churches, was a valuable asset to the community.

Rabbi Widom also addressed the audience in the Hebrew language. The principal address was delivered by I. Grossman on the subject of “The Activity of the Homestead Jews,” and will be found below. The privilege of laying the stone was auctioned off by Hon. A.C. Stein, of Pittsburg, a member of the State legislature and the honor fell to Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Margolis whose bid was $55. Max Egerman, president of the I.O.B.A. announced a contribution by the society of $50, Mrs. Mollie Moskowitz president of the Y.W.H.A. announced a contribution of $200, president of the Hebrew Ladies’ Aid Society announced a contribution of $300. There were placed in ……… 2 history of the congregation, the names of the contributors and a copy of the Daily Messenger.

The platform erected for the purpose was filled with members of the congregation and visitors from abroad and there were many gentiles in the audience.

The new structure will be 47×65 feet and will be built of brick and stone. The cost will be about $30,000.

The officers of the congregation are President, Joseph Lasdusky; vice president, Morris Grinberg; secretary, Bernhard Hepp (sic); treasurer Henry Glick; trustees Morris Frankel and Nathan Eskovitz. B. Hepps is chairman of the building committee; Dr. M.H. Moss is secretary. Mr. Gross in his speech said:

(Note:  This speech is a near duplicate of this one, which has fewer errors, especially towards the end.)

Ladies and Gentlemen:

The celebration in which we are engaged is not merely a festive occasion; we are not assembled chiefly for pleasurable entertainment, we have been called together to review what we have done, and have left undone; to take an account of what we are doing and leaving undone, and to draw a conclusion of what the future holds for us to do.

In such deliberations, we hold no secret conclaves; we present our history with all its successes and its failure to the public; and along with it we set forth the scope and plan of our future activities.

One feature of this occasion is the reading of the history of the Homestead Hebrew Congregation for the first seven years of its existence. That history, which was found in the corner stone of the old Synagogue, I have just read to you. I shall not enter the field which has been covered, except to pluck here and there a sheaf from the harvest that has been gathered.

From that history we learn that after the congregation was in existence for seven years it was found expedient to build a Synagogue which was dedicated March 30 1902.

It took only a few months to realize what a grave error has been committed in building a house of worship hardly adequate for that time, especially so in a growing community, but considering, that we were handicapped by the lack of funds, the error was excusable, but even then plans were propagated to remedy the evil, by the advocacy of an addition to the synagogue.

Wise counsel, however, prevailed, and instead of wasting funds on improving a building which at best could only last a few years, it was deemed advisable to create a sinking fund, and lift the mortgage on the building.

Through united efforts this was accomplished May 17th, 1903.

The persecutions in other lands had at this time brought to us Jews from all parts of the world. They brought with them different customs, habits of thought, phases of religious beliefs and inherited prejudices; each group sought to dominate the others, controversies arose, and at times destruction was threatened.

But above the din and confusion arose one clear note that has sounded throughout the ages. “Though some of you be rich and some of you be poor, some intelligent, others ignorant, some refined, others uncultured, some pious, others irreligious, some niggardly others generous, though you speak different tongues, and have different habits, yet have ye a common ancestor, a common religion, a common history, a common peril, and a common destiny, for ye are all Jews.

The growth of the community kept on, and the center around which all activities revolved was the Congregation. The aim of the Congregation was mainly intended to be of a spiritual nature, but we realized that the dead must be buried, the sick nursed, the poor aided, the widow comforted, the orphan reared, the ignorant educated, the debased uplifted, the weak protected and the welfare of all safe-guarded, from the assaults to which Jews have always been subject. In order to do justice to al the demands for assistance and relief, a few public spirited men of Homestead with the help of Mr L. Sulzbacher, organized Homestead Lodge No. 586 I.O.B.B.

In order to define the aims and objects of this Order, it is only necessary to quote the preamble, which can not be too often repeated. As a declaration of principles it is perfect in its simplicity. “The Independent Order of B’nai Brith has taken upon itself the mission of uniting Israelites in the work of promoting their highest interest and those of humanity, of developing, elevating and defending the mental and moral character of our race, of inculcating the purest principles of philanthropy, honor and patriotism, of supporting science and art, and alleviating the wants of the poor and needy, visiting and attending the sick, coming to the rescue of victims of persecution, providing for, protecting and assisting the widow and orphan, on the broadest principles of humanity.”

The next step of progress was the organization of the Ladies’ Aid Society, which ranks on a par with the IOBB Lodge in charitable and philanthropic work. It is true they organized mainly for social purposes, but nevertheless they contribute annually to the Denver Hospital for Consumptives, the Home for the Aged, Montefiore Hospital of Pittsburgh, and dispense aid to hundreds of worthy causes which come under their observation. They have built a fence around the cemetery of the Congregation, and have made a liberal contribution towards this new Synagogue.

Homestead Lodge NO. 437 I.O.B.A. was organized Feb. 17, 1907, and is the youngest child of progress. Considering its age of six years it is quite a lively youngster with its 210 members. The aim of this Order is to benefit its own members by sick benefits and endowments; but Homestead Lodge takes a broader view and does work not only for members, but helps those who need assistance regardless of their being affiliated with the order. To explain the high standard of this Lodge, I will quote a part of the instructions given to each candidate who joins the Lodge. “We ask you to learn the new lesson of the covenant–the lesson of brotherly love. However proud may be your station, however endowed with the material things of this world, remember ever that we are all brothers of a common humanity; stretch forth a helping hand to him who is about to fall, give words of wise counsel to him whose erring judgement leads him from the path of virtue, plead for him who through ignorance has been led to evil ways, that the light of self denial may glorify your life and prove you worthy of the honor that has been conferred upon you, that honor of being a member of the I.O.B.A.

In speaking of the progress and achievements of the Congregation I found it necessary to digress to mention these organizations. It would be utterly impossible to omit them, as they are the natural outgrowth of the Congregation and are so interwoven with it that the history of the Congregation could not be written unless each Organization with its individual activities took its place upon this record. These organizations were not created but were a natural outgrowth–and expression of the voice of the people. That these organizations were justified and necessary requires no argument.

The meeting room, it can be seen, has achieved a great influence upon the minds of our people; it has served to develop intelligence and character, and no one who reads this paper can help but conclude that but for these organizations the status of the Jews of this town would in all respects be lower than it is.

In claiming so much we are not unmindful of the errors that we have made. We frankly admit that we have not always pursued the wisest course, most notable among these errors was the building of the old Synagogue and the duplication of societies whose aims were almost identical. To overcome those errors we are–first, erecting a new synagogue, a new house with all modern improvements, which will be a credit to the Jews and a credit to the town; second, we have organized the United Hebrew Charities which is maintained by all the Jewish organizations of the town and does away with the repetition of the work to be done.

This history of Homestead is not a local one; you can find the same conditions in almost any town of this or any other state. We do not claim from grave responsibility. Those unmerited honors, nor do we shrink 3 ranked in the front row for the past 20 years have labored earnestly for a great cause; they have won many victories, and suffered some defeats. They are not more proud of the former than sorrowful for the latter. What they have done, and what they have left undone is here set down to be read by those who will follow them.

They do not demand praise or resent criticism, but they do ask that criticism shall be constructive, and not destructive, that it shall be offered in order to build up, not to tear down. Let our aim in life be to become builders, builders for humanity’s sake. And this will eventually redound to the glory of God and leave a monument to us for ages to come.


9/22/1913: To Lay the Corner Stone Next Sunday

9/22/1913: To Lay the Corner Stone Next Sunday

To Lay the Corner Stone Next Sunday

At a meeting of the Hebrew congregation Rodef Sholom in the Old Synagogue, Ammon street 4 it was decided to lay the corner stone of the new synagogue on Tenth avenue, next Sunday, September 28. There will be appropriate ceremonies connected with the event and addresses by prominent Hebrews. The servers are now being held in the Ammon street synagogue and probably will be until the new one is finished.

At the congregation meeting yesterday officers were elected for the ensuing year. The officers of last year being re-elected as follows: Joseph Lasdusky, president; Morris Grinberg, vice president; B. Hepps, secretary; Henry Gluck, treasurer; and I. Grossman trustee.


9/27: History Making Day for the Homestead Jews

9/27: History Making Day for the Homestead Jews

History Making Day for the Homestead Jews

Will Lay the Corner Stone of Their Synagogue Tomorrow

GOOD PROGRAM

Tomorrow will be a history making day for the Hebrews of Homestead. A 2 o’clock in the afternoon they will meet at the corner of Ninth avenue and McClure street and lay the corner stone of their new synagogue which is calculated to house all the Jews of this vicinity while they worship, for many years to come, the proposed building having been planned for the future as well as the present.

The exercises in connection with the laying of the stone will be quite interesting and most impressive as it will be carried out with all the rites of the Jewish church. Joseph Lasdusky will act as master of ceremonies and a regular program will be carried out in which speech making will be a feature.

Many out of town people will be present and a general invitation is issued to the public to turn out witness the exercises.

The program is as follows:–

Opening address, Joseph Lasdusky, Master of Ceremonies.
Opening Prayer, Rev. Widom.
Address, Rabbi Ashinsky.
Address, Burgess T.L. Davis.
Address, B. Hepps, chairman of building committee.
Address, Hon. Adolph Edlis.
Address by I Grossman on “The Activity of the Homestead Jews.”
Laying the corner stone.
Benediction, Rabbi Ashinsky.


From an editorial published 10/13/1913:

Homestead has been unusually conspicuous in church affairs within the last few weeks. Sunday, three weeks ago, the Hebrew congregation laid the corner stone of their new Synagogue on Tenth avenue, this was followed by the meting of Pittsburg conference of the Methodist Episcopal church lasting a week and yesterday the First Baptist congregation celebrated the Thirtieth anniversary of the church here.

These events have put Homestead on the map in a conspicuous place and will have a good effect in placing the town in its proper position before the people generally as regards the uplift movement in which some magazine writers seem to think every person is engaged excepting those in Homestead.

Looking back through the years since the town came into existence once will not see only a remarkable growth in industrial affairs but he will see a like growth in religious and educational affairs. As Homestead started with a little railmill, so it started with small struggling congregations worshipping in any rooms obtainable. Afterwards small churches were built and eventually we see the handsome edifices surpassed by none in any town in the country.

As almost every civilized race is represented in its population so almost every christian creed is represented and all are flourishing. Homestead has all the facilities for growth in religion and in education. All people have to do is to take advantage of their opportunities.

For context, on the afternoon of Friday 9/26, a few days before the cornerstone laying on 9/28, there was a big parade in Pittsburgh for the 125th anniversary of the county.  Homestead was represented by its Chamber of Commerce, which was formed and run by some of the same men who led the building of the new synagogue.  Busy!  That week Homestead played host to the  annual conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church.  Three hundred ministers and many laymen were in town.  Perhaps those who came early got to see the cornerstone laying for themselves!

The cornerstone-laying happened just a few days before Rosh Hashana began. On 10/1, erev Rosh Hashana, the paper reported that “the Jews of Homestead and vicinity will keep their stores closed and will spend the two days in worship in Turner hall on Fifth avenue, their synagogue on Ammon street not being large enough to accommodate them.”  This article was alongside a big article about the town’s reception to the visiting pastors from the Methodist church. (The paper doesn’t say where Yom Kippur services were held, but clearly not in the shul!  Coincidentally, on the same evening of Kol Nidrei there was a Christian Endeavor rally in Homestead.  Societies from all over the area came to town for it.  Awesome, wow.)  


  1. burgess=mayor  

  2. Impossible to read this line  

  3. Seems pretty clear that something went wrong with the typesetting here.  The archive version has, “We do not claim unmerited honors, nor do we shrink from grave responsibilities.  Those…”  

  4. Interesting, since it was already sold at this point, though their financial records suggest they rented it back for some months.  

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