By Lisa Pett
Shabbat services will be held on Friday at the Portage County Historical Society Museum.
The Sabbath, which begins at sundown on Friday, falls on the last day of Passover for the local reformed congregation.
The PCHS Museum is the original synagogue of the Temple Beth Israel congregation of Stevens Point. It hosts a Shabbat service once a year for local Jewish families, many of whom must normally travel to Wausau for regular religious observations.
Mark Seiler, Vice President of the PCHS and curator at the Temple Beth Israel Museum said, “It’s nice that we’re having services here.The museum is a living museum and the third oldest synagogue building in the state of Wisconsin. It is the oldest with the sanctuary still intact.”
The sanctuary houses artifacts from the history of Stevens Point’s Jewish community, as well as two Torah scrolls. These books are large, parchment scrolls, hand-inscribed in Hebrew with the first five books of the Old Testament and contain the laws of Judaism. They are carefully stored in the sanctuary in ornately embroidered covers.
The synagogue, which remains as it was when it was last renovated in 1951, was built in 1905. It was turned over to the Portage County Historical Society when it ceased holding regular services in 1985 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.
Friday’s service will feature a reading from the Torah for the end of Passover. There will also be a Cantor at the service. A Cantor sings in prayer and also helps lead the congregation through the service.
Immediately following the service, there will be a social hour which will include a carry-in dinner adhering to the Jewish dietary laws of Passover.
Passover commemorates the emancipation of the Jews from slavery in ancient Egypt. It is an eight day long festival celebrated in the early spring.
The Beth Israel Synagogue is located at 1475 Water St. in Stevens Point. The service begins at 7:30 PM on Friday, April 10th and the public is welcome to attend.
Rabbi Dan Danson of the Mt. Sinai Congregation in Wausau will officiate.