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Synagogues/Temples

Bernice Mossafer Rind

A child virtuoso on harp and long-standing champion of the Seattle Symphony, Bernice Rind’s musical career began at age seven. At age 11 she debuted professionally and retired from touring at age 23 when her mother grew ill and Bernice longed for a more "normal" life. A Seattle native whose parents emigrated from the Isle of Rhodes, she attended both Ezra Bessaroth Congregation (Sephardic) cofounded by her father, and the Ashkenazic Reform synagogue, Temple de Hirsch Sinai, (co-founded by the Rind family).

Arva Gray

A Mormon convert to Judaism, Arva Davis Gray was a leader in the Seattle Jewish community and a self-described “kitchen Jew” who served as president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, as a member of the Boards of many local and national Jewish organizations, and was a founder of Bellevue’s Temple B‘Nai Torah. Trained as a nurse, she married Dr. Bernard Gray, with whom she raised two children from his previous marriage and two of their own. Arva spiced her life with Sephardic and Askenazic cooking learned from friends and neighbors, and with wisdom grounded in Judaism and a broad, humane outlook. Arva also devoted her energies to her four children and to her grandchildren. Arva Gray died on June 14, 2010.

Esther Eggleston

Widowed at age 36, Esther Eggleston managed single motherhood and work as the first female executive administrator of Temple de Hirsch Sinai, serving three rabbis and a growing membership of almost 1,000 families during her 23 years of service. Born in St. Louis in 1905, Esther’s family moved to Seattle in 1912. In her working life she felt useful and accomplished, underappreciated and unacknowledged-the tangle of rewards and disappointments experienced by working women in mid-century. Devoted to her daughter and her volunteer causes, Esther received the first Esther Eggleston Outstanding Service Award from Women’s American ORT in 1993, now awarded annually in her honor.

Ruth Nussbaum preserves a Torah on Kristallnacht

November 10, 1938

Ruth Nussbaum preserves a Torah on Kristallnacht.

“I struggle.”

Growing up, my discomfort derived from the separate-but-equal mentality I found inherent within a mechitza service. Sometimes, the mechitza is a balcony (women in the back, men in the front). Sometimes, the Torah and the service-leader are only on the men’s side. Even in the more forward-thinking mechitza services that I’ve attended, there are still areas in which women may not lead. As an outspoken queer feminist, mechitzas make me uncomfortable... to say the least.

Margaret Fleet, 1919 - 2013

When Margaret Fishler Fleet graduated from St. Joseph’s Academy of Music in Fernandina Beach, FL many years ago, her beloved piano teacher, Sister Nola, gave Margaret the nun’s only worldly possession, a lace handkerchief as a present. So profound was Margaret’s love of music that she made sure each of her four daughters and her granddaughters carried the handkerchief during their own weddings. A week before she died, she mustered the energy to perform a final piano recital for her family.

Hurricane Katrina: Community Responsibility and Tikkun Olam

The Kabbalah (Jewish mystical school of thought) teaches that God created the world by projecting a beam of light into the universe and then created vessels to hold the light. But the divine light was too strong for the vessels and they shattered into bits. These bits and holy sparks scattered into the world. Our job as humans is to redeem the holy sparks through prayer and action. In doing so, we act as partners with God in the work of Tikkun Olam (repairing the world).

Wrestling with God and Jewish Tradition

The biblical figure of Jacob is also called Israel, the one who wrestled with God (Genesis 35:10). As the "Children of Israel," the Jewish community has carried on this legacy of wrestling with God and tradition in our attempts to create meaning in our lives. This Go & Learn guide uses the artwork of the Jewish feminist artist Helène Aylon to explore how we—as individuals and as a community—grapple with ideas about God and Jewish tradition.

Writing Home: A Letter from an Early American Jew

We know little about Rebecca Samuel, the author of the featured document in this guide, outside of what her letters provide for us: a slice of her life as a Jewish woman in early America. In this letter, originally written in Yiddish in the 1790s to her parents in Hamburg, Germany, Samuel describes her life in Petersburg, Virginia. She vividly portrays the challenges of keeping a Jewish household, her wishes for her children, and her excitement about the prospect of moving to Charleston, South Carolina. This Go & Learn guide uses Rebecca Samuel’s captivating letter as a centerpiece for interactive sessions about Jewish immigration and the development of the Jewish community in America.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Synagogues/Temples." (Viewed on September 3, 2015) <http://jwa.org/topics/synagoguestemples>.

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