A Place to Call their Own: Brookline Congregation Moves into New Home

If you traveled Beacon Street near Washington Square around 6 p.m. on Sunday, you surely saw the celebration. The hundreds of people singing and cheering were not rejoicing the Red Sox 7-2 victory over Toronto, however. The Sephardic Congregation of New England was celebrating the opening of its new home, Temple Beth Abraham. Approximately 250 synagogue members gathered on Sunday to participate in a procession from their old home at Temple Beth Zion on Beacon Street to their new home at 18 Williston Road. The congregation, made up mostly of Iranian, Iraqi and Egyptian immigrants, had been renting space from Beth Zion for more than 20 years. They are excited to be moving to their new building.

“We are so happy to have a place to call our own. To have more independence,” said Giti Saeidian, who joined the congregation in the late 1980s just a few years after it was founded. Saeidian, a real estate agent, helped find the new location for her congregation about a year ago. The former home of St. Andrew’s Church for the Deaf is just a few blocks away from Temple Beth Zion. Much of the past eight months has been spent raising money and renovating the new temple, said Dr. David Sheena, the president of the congregation who helped lead the march up Beacon Street.

The procession, which included the carrying of three Torahs beneath colorful canopies, or chuppahs, paused several times to allow for the singing of traditional songs and recitation of prayers. The festive crowd tossed flower petals along the way, played tambourines, cheered and took turns blowing the shofar, or ram’s horn. At Temple Abraham, the rabbi of the congregation, Dr. Baruch Mazor, Sheena and special guests installed mezuzahs on the doorways. The small piece of plastic that encases a scroll of Biblical verses is traditionally affixed to the right side doorposts in many Jewish homes. Inside the temple, some members gathered in the second-floor chapel while others mingled in a large community room on the first floor.

Many young members of the congregation are excited about the new space. “It’s nice to finally have our own place. A place where we can go to socialize,” said Shabnam Sanieoff, 16, who walked in the procession with her cousins, Roya and Leora. “There are so many synagogues in Brookline. It’s cool to have a Persian one,” said 13-year-old Newton resident Olly Shamash. Sheena said that the day was bittersweet. “We were under the care of very nice people at Beth Zion. We will miss them,” said Sheena. Watching his congregation process up Beacon Street and moving into Temple Abraham brought a smile to his face, however. “Today’s trip mirrored that of our ancestors leaving Egypt. But in this case, we traveled the desert of Beacon Street for 40 minutes, not 40 years,” Sheena said.

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