Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Photos from the History of Congregation Beth El, St Johnsbury, Vermont

Congregation Beth El used to meet in an upper floor of Luv's department store, across from today's Boxcar & Caboose in St. Johnsbury, Vt.

                                             From the Burlington Free Press, June 27, 1981.

Three long-term presidents of the congregation: from left, Ben Harris, Alfred Zeller, David Kanell.

                                            Art that hung in the entryway.


                            West Wall art by Chick Schwartz, on the west wall of the sanctuary.

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Jews and Slaughterhouses in the Northeast Kingdom: Appendix

 I'm adding this item for the sake of completion for the earlier piece, "Jews and Slaughterhouses of Vermont," https://jewsinvermont.blogspot.com/2012/01/quilting-pieces-jews-and.html.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

David Silver, 1926-2018, and Edna Louise Silver, 1928-2018, Derby, Vermont [Obituaries]

[David and Edna Silver were vital in Congregation Beth El in the 1980s.]

This obituary for David Silver ran in the December 21, 2018, Newport Daily Express. 
David L. Silver, 92, Resident of Derby, Vermont, died peacefully with his family on December 17, at North Country Hospital.
    He was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, January 29, 1926, the son of Morris and Sarah (née Niceberg) Silver. 
    David was married to his wife of 63 years Edna L. Silver on June 5, 1955 in Long Beach, California.  They have two children Morris L. Silver (b. 1958) and Claire S. Silver (b. 1964). 
    David was a Naval Pharmacist mate 3rd Class; a 1st generation American who volunteered to serve in World War II, stationed at the Naval Hospital at Guam from 1944 to 1946.
    David earned a Bachelor and Master of Science Degree in micro-bacteriology from the University of Minnesota  in 1953. From 1953 to 1979 he was a resident of Seal Beach California.  He started his professional career as a researcher under the direction of Dr. David Imagawa at the UCLA Virology Laboratory in Long Beach, California. He also worked for the Paramount Unified School District for over 25 years with a career including teaching, counseling and public administration.
    David moved to Derby, Vermont with his family in 1979. He and his wife Edna purchased the Newport Health Care Center where he served as the administrator.
    David was always close to his staff whom he loved like extended family. David was many things to many people.  He touched many and gave so much to others.
    David enjoyed the study of history, public service, and spending time with his family and friends. His heroes were Moses and Lincoln. He was a vociferous reader and enjoyed travel, photography, and men's fashion. David was involved in many community organizations including the Rotary Club, the Greater Newport Area Chamber of Commerce, Aquafest, the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, the VFW, the Masonic Lodge and Vermont Make A Wish. He also served as the President of Northeast Kingdom Mental Health Services and was a Justice of the Peace in Derby.
    David is survived by his children Morris and Tobi Silver of Benson, Vermont, Claire Silver and Namu Moulton of Derby Line, Vermont, and his grandchildren Jacob Silver and his fiancé Sarah Forster of Brookline, Massachusetts, Benjamin Silver of Waltham, Massachusetts, Emily Corbitt of Stowe, Vermont, and David Moulton of Coventry, Vermont.  
    A graveside funeral will be held at 11:00 am on December 23rd at the Hebrew Holy Society Cemetery in Burlington, Vermont.  The family wishes to express a special thanks to the staff of North Country Hospital, and members of the greater Newport health care community.
    Should you wish to honor the memory of David Silver,  in lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to:  
Make-A -Wish Vermont
Attention: Jamie Hathaway
431 Pine street Suite 214
Burlington, Vermont 05401

Here is the obituary for Edna Silver, published in the Newport Daily Express in the August 31/September 1, 2018, issue.

Edna Louise Silver, 90, Resident of Derby, Vermont, died peacefully surrounded by her family on August 25, at North Country Hospital.    

    She was born in Quincy, Massachusetts, July 11,
    Edna was married to David L. Silver on June 5, 1955 in Long Beach, California. They have two children Morris L. Silver and Claire S. Silver. From 1950 - 1979 she was a resident of Southern California. She worked as a Surgical Nurse, a Pediatric Nurse and Director of Nursing Services for the Beverly Manor Convalescent Center in Seal Beach California. Edna is a graduate of San Diego State College and the Mount Zion School of Nursing in San Francisco.
Edna moved to Derby, Vermont with her family in 1979. Edna and her husband David, purchased the Newport Health Care Center where she served in a variety of roles including the Director of Nursing Services.
    Edna was always close to her staff whom she viewed as her extended family. Edna was many things to many people. She touched many and gave so much to others.
    Edna enjoyed cooking, and spending time with her family and friends. Her other
passion was traveling abroad.
    She is survived by her husband David Silver, her children Morris and Tobi Silver of Benson, Vermont, Claire Silver and Namu Moulton of Derby Line, Vermont, and her grandchildren Jacob Silver and his fiancé Sarah Forster of Brookline, Massachusetts, Benjamin Silver of Waltham, Massachusetts, Emily Corbitt of Stowe, Vermont, and David Moulton of Coventry, Vermont.
    A graveside funeral was held on August 27th in Burlington, Vermont. The family wishes to express a special thanks to the staff of North Country Hospital, and members of the greater Newport health care community.
    Should you wish to honor the memory of Edna Silver, in lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to:
Make-A -Wish Vermont
Attention: Jamie Hathaway
431 Pine street Suite 214
Burlington, Vermont 05401

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Jewish Community of Newport, Vermont

The late Emily M. Nelson, in her 1977 book Frontier Crossroads: The Evolution of Newport Vermont, provides the following description of the Jewish community of Newport at pages 132-133:

It was recorded by the late Morris Sockol that a Jewish community was formed in 1905 for the purpose of purchasing a Torah and observing the Jewish holidays and festivals.

Prayer meetings were held in various members' homes and Magoon's Hall was used for the High Holy Days.

In 1943 Oscar Skoll donated a building on Clyde Street to be used for a Synagogue. 

The following people were present to accept the offer: William Arkin, Abraham Arkin, Morris Atkins, Jesse Levin, Ed Needleman, Louis Needleman, Oscar Skoll, and Saul Sockol.

There was a public dedication and Open House in September, 1943, of the new Beth Israel  Synagogue. Protestants, Catholics, and Jews joined in the impressive ceremony. Rabbi Herman of Burlington, Vermont, conducted the service assisted by Cantor L. Spiro of Montreal.

Louis Lisman of Burlington delivered an address on the courage of the Newport Jews in founding a Synagogue.

The keynote address for the ceremonies was delivered by the late Rev. Wilson Bugden, pastor of the United Churches of Newport, who spoke on "Our Similarities." Pastors of the other city churches and Mayor O.S. Searles had a part in the public dedication of the new Synagogue.

Sabbath services, holiday festivals and Sunday School classes were held at the Synagogue until September, 1963. At that time the building was returned to Oscar Skill due to the diminishing Jewish population. 

The Torahs were loaned to the Ohavi Zedek Synagogue of Burlington, Vermont, for safekeeping.

In 1964 it became known to the former members of the Beth Israel congregation that a Torah was needed in a Jewish Community in India. A Torah was given and sent to India.

The funds of the treasury were used to purchase and maintain a room at the Orleans County Memorial Hospital in Newport.

The prayer books and menorah were given to Temple Beth El of Quincy, Massachusetts. The remainder of the prayer books and Torah covers were given to a new Temple in Simsbury, Connecticut, which Jason Arkin and his family helped to organize.

[The book also includes a photo, labeled: Beth Israel congregation members (from left) Saul Sockol, Louis and Ed Needleman, and Jack Gladstone, with Torah destined for a community in India.]

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Rosalie Harris, Who Lived Life Well and With Commitment

 [Originally published in The Caledonian-Record.]

Rosalie Harris, a pillar of the St. Johnsbury community and a personal mentor to many individuals, died peacefully at her family home on July 17, 2021. Rosalie was 102.

Some reading this obituary may remember Rosalie fondly from her more active years, while others will never have heard of her, or of the impact that she and her husband Ben (1913-2014) had in the Northeast Kingdom for more than half a century. This is what happens when one reaches the age of 102.

Born and raised in Montreal, Rosalie learned early to establish strong interpersonal relationships of support and mentorship, becoming an anchor within her large extended family of cousins which, even today, gathers monthly for global video calls, reflecting the spirit of family and community that Rosalie spread. She studied, practiced and graduated as a Registered Nurse in 1940 from the Women’s General Hospital School of Nursing in Montreal, and received a certificate in First Aid to the Injured from the St. John Ambulance Association in 1941. Her nursing credentials were recognized by Vermont in 1962.

In October 1941 Rosalie met Ben Harris of St. Albans on a blind date and they were married three months later on their fifth “date,” in Montreal, beginning a 72-year marriage. After Ben’s military service, during which Rosalie worked for the Red Cross in Boston, Mass., the couple settled initially in Montpelier and then moved to St. Johnsbury in 1949 when Ben opened the local branch of his statewide business Nate’s, then Vermont’s Largest Men’s Clothier. From that time on, Rosalie committed herself fully to advancing the civic, religious, and cultural life of the NEK. Her public service record includes:

- Caledonia Home Health Care, President and founding member

- Northeast Kingdom Mental Health Services, Inc., member

- Congregation Beth El, Sisterhood President, Secretary and Teacher

- Community Concert Series, Secretary, Publicity Chair

- Northeastern Vermont Kingdom Concert Series, Board

- Methodist Church Fashion Show, narrator and fundraiser for the St. Johnsbury Community School

- Vermont Assembly of Home Health Agencies, Board of Directors

- American Red Cross Blood Bank, Technician

- Fairbanks Museum, Board member, Fellow, Director and Clerk of the Board

- Girl Scouts, Board of Directors

- St. Johnsbury Junior Woman’s Club, President and advocate for the pre-school polio vaccination clinics

- St. Johnsbury Woman’s Club, Member

- Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital, Corporator, Trustee, Member of the Executive Board, Chair of the Policy and Procedures Committee, Library Staff Volunteer, Central Services Volunteer

- American Cancer Society, Vermont Division Secretary and Publicity Chair

- St. Johnsbury Youth Recreation Council, Member of the Board, Secretary

- Arlington School PTA, Secretary and representative to the public school Social Studies Curriculum Committee

- Kiwanis Club of St. Johnsbury, volunteer

- Northern Vermont University, Lyndon Campus, Foundation founding member, Visitors Board member

- Gilman Housing Trust, now RuralEdge, Board Member

- St. Johnsbury Athenaeum, Board Member

- Northeast Kingdom Chamber of Commerce, Trustee Emerita

- Profiled in the book “To Life! A Celebration of Vermont Jewish History”

Familiar to many through all of these activities and through her boundless optimism and positivity, Rosalie is perhaps best known to a generation in St. Johnsbury as the person who explained Jewish beliefs and traditions through her annual talks in the Sunday Schools of almost every church in town. Rosalie had a way of making Jewish traditions and beliefs accessible and understandable to non-Jews within the context of their own religions, breaking down the barriers which too often divide our communities. Rosalie continued her representation of the Jewish community as a guest at St. Johnsbury Academy graduation ceremonies where, for several years, she delivered the invocation and benediction.

In response to Rosalie and Ben’s commitment to building bridges between the Jewish and non-Jewish communities, their children endowed a Fund which sponsors annual programming in the NEK to share culture, arts and ideas across religions. Rosalie and Ben themselves endowed the Harris Prize at St. Johnsbury Academy and a Nursing Scholarship at Northern Vermont University, Lyndon Campus.

Rosalie’s tireless civic commitment was recognized with many honors including:

- David G. Rahr Community Service Award, with Ben, from the Vermont Community Foundation, 2009

- Community National Bank Community Service Award, with Ben, 2005

- Recognized by the Governor’s Commission on Volunteers, 1994

- St. Johnsbury Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year award, 1978

When not busy serving the community, Rosalie devoted her time to her immediate and extended family and to many hobbies and interests, including piano, embroidery, crocheting, knitting, calligraphy, and painting. She also sought and enjoyed conversations in Yiddish and French.

Rosalie is survived by her children Gertrude (Chips) Naparstek and her husband David of Boxboro, Mass.; Andrea Harris of Brighton, Mass.; and Bill Harris and his wife Marcia of Cambridge, Mass.; by grandchildren Mark Naparstek and his wife Ember of Las Vegas, Nev.; Sam Harris and his wife Miriam of Dedham, Mass.; and Jake Harris and his partner Rachel Slusky of Delray Beach, Fla. Rosalie’s beloved granddaughter Amy Sara Naparstek pre-deceased her in 1995. Great-grandchildren, Emerson and Zander Naparstek, live in Las Vegas, Nev.; and great-granddaughter Nora Harris lives in Dedham, Mass.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Amy Sara Naparstek Fund at Congregation Beth Elohim, 133 Prospect St., Acton, MA 01720; the Ben and Rosalie Harris Fund of Beth El Synagogue, PO Box 568, St. Johnsbury, VT 05819; or the Ben and Rosalie Harris Scholarship in Nursing, Northern Vermont University Lyndon Campus, 1001 College Rd., PO Box 919, Lyndonville, VT 05851.

Funeral services and interment were held at a private family ceremony at the Hebrew Holy Society Cemetery in South Burlington, Vt.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

First Flight of Sam Senturia, an Airplane Mechanic During World War I

Sam Senturia, World War I

Jerome "Jerry" Senturia of Peacham shared a photo of the hand-typed description his father Sam (1896-1947) wrote about his first flight, circa 1914. Jerry wrote, "My father was an airplane mechanic in World War I. He wanted to be a pilot but his mother would not give her permission."

At the left is a photo of Sam in uniform, provided by Jerry's niece. And here is Sam's great story!

FROM DIZZY HEIGHTS: My Initial Ride in an Aeroplane


by Sam Senturia


            I shall endeavor to tell you of the sensations that I experienced on my first voyage among the clouds. This description is prompted by a request from Meyer Schickman who is helping to make my stay in Kelly Field less irksome.

            I had set my heart on getting a ride in an aeroplane, so I inquired how to get one, and was told to obtain a “form Z” and fill it out. I mustered up enough courage to go into the Office of the Office in Charge of flying and there asked the information clerk for a “Form Z.” I was greatly pleased to hear this clerk ask another, if he had any “Undertaker Blanks.” This is what the “Form Z” is commonly called because it has everything that an undertaker would want to know and then some. I took this to a quiet place and there filled it out. Here are some of the questions asked on this form: where do you want your remains sent? What religious services do you prefer? How much money have you and where is it? Have you a will and where is it? What insurance do you carry and where are the policies? This of course, put more courage into me and I filled it out bravely. I thought sure that if I went up, this information would be quite valuable to them. Now to get a pilot to take me up. When I found the pilot that I wanted he was busy talking to a friend of mine. After I had made my wishes known to the pilot, this friend of mine who happened to be the timekeeper on that stage, took the trouble to ask the pilot to be sure and give me a “good” ride. I did not grasp the full meaning of this until I had finished the ride. I borrowed a helmet and a pair of goggles from a cadet and was instructed to get in. I did this and the crew chief took the time to see that I had my safety belt hooked, this being my initial ride, and being greatly excited there was a possibility of my forgetting to take this precaution.

            After the usual Contact and Off the motor was started and we started on my first ride. On leaving the ground the feeling is that the ground is sinking under you and you are gradually rising away from it. The noise of the motor takes away most of the sensation until you get used to it. As the passenger usually rides in the front seat, I was practically on top of the motor. It took a few minutes for me to get accustomed to the noise of the motor, and then I took a look over the side. It sure is grand to be up in the air and look down on the earth, you can see for miles, and at the height we were (which I later found was 2000 feet) things are plain and easily discernable. I mentally pointed out my barracks, the place where I work, and the different places that I only [saw] from the ground before . The riding is fine, if the pilot does not feel happy and does not make the ship stand on its nose. We rode along this way and I was feeling great but Oh! what’s this, the ship is up on one wing and swinging around in a circle using the lowest wing as a pivot (I later found out that this was a spiral), when the pilot had straightened the ship out I looked back at him and smiled; this and the fact that the timekeeper had asked him to give me a “good” ride must have acted as an incentive and the first thing I knew the motor was sputtering and we were headed for the earth in the queerest manner, twisting this [way] then that (I later found that this was a tail spin) this is when a fellow gets that queer sensation that “it is all over with now,” but oh what a sigh of relief when I saw that we were again riding level. I looked back again, this time with not so much of a smile. The fact that I was still able to look back at him spurred him on and this time we nosed down and I felt the safety belt loosen so I looked UP and behold I saw the earth, this dear readers you know was a loop. As before I looked back but with no grin at all for I was having an inward battle trying to persuade what remained of my dinner to stay where it belonged, I would have won this battle by Oh! the ship tilted again and this was too much for poor little me, my hand shot up in the air as a signal that I had had enough and he must have seen that I was inspecting the inside of the ship, so he started down; at this my stomach won and out came what remained of my breakfast (the crew chief and I ought to be thankful that I did not eat any dinner that day, for if I had I would have made a little work for him and myself). We landed in a small field and the pilot told me to get out and walk around and that I would feel better. I did this and it felt good to again have my feet on Mother Earth. After about two minutes walk I told him I was ready to go back. On the return trip I rode in the rear seat and the pilot in the front seat. The pilot must have had pity on me for we rode level all the way and he even tried to cheer me by showing me some cows that had started to run when they heard the noise from our motor. I soon began to see familiar places and I knew that we would soon be back on the field. I experienced little or no sensation on landing this time for I was feeling sort of dizzy. When I got out I said to myself “Gee but it’s good to be back on the earth again.”

            I missed a dinner and part of a supper on account of this ride but I think it was worth it and a few more besides. When you consider the fact that it costs the government about two dollars a minute to fly a ship and that I had about 35 minutes of flying time I think that I could miss a couple of more rations and still be ahead.

            I hope that among you readers there may be some who have or will experience similar sensations.

            On my next trip I shall endeavor to be more entertaining and send you a regard from St. Peter himself.