Members and friends of the greater Pottstown community can look forward to a special weekend this November, when the 120 year old Congregation Mercy and Truth will celebrate its 50th anniversary at 575 N. Keim Street, Pottstown, in the synagogue building that serves as the center of Pottstown’s Jewish Community.
Circle Saturday evening, Nov. 3, at 7 PM as a “save the date” on your calendar and plan to attend the “Golden Gala Celebration,” featuring a buffet of appetizers and hors d’oeuvres, an open bar, and entertainment by comedian Keith Barany, described by the New York Post as “the wittiest comedian working.”
Beginning at 7 PM, those who attend will also be invited to submit bids in a Silent Auction of items such as sports memorabilia, getaway weekends, sports and theater tickets, baskets, etc. Auction winners will be announced following Barany’s performance at about 10 PM, when the evening will wrap up with a delicious dessert table and coffee.
Community members are invited to attend this exciting evening and show their support for the area’s Jewish community by sharing in the celebration. The weekend of planned events will also provide area residents of Jewish heritage who are currently not affiliated with a synagogue, a great opportunity to learn about everything that Congregation Mercy and Truth offers.
Congregation president Jane Prince is enthusiastic about the upcoming celebration. “I’m excited about the whole program, especially bringing present and past members together to celebrate this milestone,” she says.
Many Events Scheduled, Tickets Available
Other events of the weekend-long celebration will include an Oneg Shabbat (light refreshments in honor of the Sabbath), following Friday night Sabbath services and sponsored by the Jewish Women’s League, a Kiddush (blessing over the wine to celebrate the Sabbath) luncheon following Saturday morning services, and a dairy brunch Sunday morning.
Tickets for the Saturday evening Golden Gala and the weekend’s other special events will be available soon. For ticket information, contact Reservations Chairman Mark Pastor at email@example.com or 484- 624- 8065, or the synagogue office at 610- 326- 1717. Large groups are welcome to reserve tables when purchasing tickets. Prices for the Saturday evening event range from $35 - $80, while Sunday brunch tickets are $15. There is no cost to attend the other events, but those who plan to attend should contact either the office or Pastor in advance.
As part of the 50th anniversary celebration, the Synagogue is publishing a program that includes congregation and synagogue history and photos, as well as ads from businesses and community patrons who are extending their good wishes on this special occasion. Anyone who placed an ad and everyone who attends Saturday night’s Gala celebration, will receive a copy of the program.
Congregation Has Lengthy History in Pottstown
The Jewish community has been a vital part of Pottstown’s growth over the years. Although the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County chartered the first official Jewish community in 1889 when a synagogue was built on Hale Street, the earliest Jewish settler is thought to date back to 1844 when a man named Jacob Hessel opened a grocery store at Beech and Manatawny Streets.
Later, for unknown reasons, the original congregation charter was closed down and the synagogue building was sold, but in 1892, a new charter was granted and the new congregation was named “Hesed Shel Emes” or “Mercy of Truth.” This name is still in use today.
Initially, this new group repurchased the Hale Street building and remained there until the mid- 1920s, but in 1924 a decision was made to build a new building. Construction began in 1925 and the building, located at High and Warren Sts., was completed and dedicated in 1926.
That facility served the Jewish community until Sept. 9, 1962 when the congregation moved to its current location on Keim Street. The Keim Street building is especially noteworthy for its beautiful stained glass windows in the main sanctuary. Designed by congregation member Maurice Miller, the 14 windows illustrate 12 Jewish holidays and other traditional practices of Judaism such as doing charitable deeds and praying.
Prince summarizes her feelings about this milestone anniversary, explaining, “Jews have been in Pottstown for 120 years, 50 of them in this building, and that is quite a heritage. Our ancestors built a Jewish community here and it is up to us to keep it going. I hope that area residents will join with the Jewish community to celebrate this landmark anniversary.”
Additional information about the Jewish community in Pottstown can be found at the following websites: