Monday, July 23, 2012
The Deacon introduced himself and graciously invited us inside during a service for young people. We were welcomed warmly, and the young congregants looked at us with some curiosity. The regular pastor was away, but the woman Elder delivered a forceful, common-sense sermon on the lessons of the Biblical David and the need for young people to slay the giants in their own lives: "fitting in," lust, disrespecting their parents, and holding on to bitterness and resentment. The children and teenagers, some overcome by the day's 90-degree heat, struggled to stay awake; a couple of kids had to be prodded to attention by the Deacon. The sermon was animated by the preacher's brilliant mimicking of defiant teenage behavior. It was a performance worthy of a top comedienne, but with a Godly purpose.
Three of the lovely young ladies and a fine young man (below) in attendance, after the service.
Thursday, July 19, 2012
In my continuing explorations of the Glenville neighborhood of Cleveland, I went in search of the small former Orthodox synagogue where my late mother's family worshiped in the 1930s. My cousin recently visited town with a cache of photos and memorabilia kept in boxes by her mom, my Aunt Freda, who died recently. Among them was a booklet commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Shomer Shabbos synagogue, where my very religious maternal grandfather was a prominent figure.
Like many of the old synagogues in the East 105th area, it is now a church, the Apostolic Faith Tabernacle at 105th and Columbia.
Kenny, who grew up on Columbia Road and first attended the church under its previous pastor, graciously introduced himself to me. He has lived on this street for some 40 years, and has seen a lot of changes. He shared details about the neighborhood — the elementary school, now gone, that was just down the street; the church's baptismal pool with a balcony view.
These personal archaeology expeditions are interesting, but what really enchants me are the kind, fascinating people whose personal stories animate this old city. As Cleveland continues to gentrify with shiny new pleasure domes of gambling and gorging, it's this priceless, fading history I hold onto ever more dearly.
UPDATE: It turns out this wasn't the synagogue where my grandfather worshiped; the correct one is a shuttered building across the street, near Bryant, where the family lived. Still an interesting piece of history.