In 1919 Jewish immigrants from Europe moved to Lawrence, Massachusetts. There they founded Congregation Ansha Sholum, among several other small shuls. By the 1950s demographic changes resulted in Ansha Sholum being the city’s only synagogue. This synagogue was a center of Judaism in the Merrimack Valley region of Massachusetts and was vibrant from the 1920s through the 1970s.
Over the last generation the Jewish population of Lawrence dwindled, yet a vibrant new Jewish community has emerged in the town next door. So in 2022 the leadership of the Ansha Sholum met with the leaders of Congregation Ahavat Olam in North Andover.
Here we see Freyda Koffman, president of Congregation Ansha Sholum passing two Torahs to Rabbi Idan Irelander in front of their magnificent ark. These scrolls will be the inaugural Torahs to be read at Ahavat Olam’s High Holiday services. Ansha Sholum also generously pledged to donate their ark and other synagogue interior furnishings, some of which have already found their way to the interior of Ahavat Olam!
Congregation Ahavat Olam is a new, egalitarian, non-affiliated Jewish house of worship, with an Ashkenazi liturgy, following the Sephardic model of one Judaism, one God, one Torah, and one family.
The pledge to maintain the legacy of this historical shul by showcasing elements and artifacts from this landmark at 1600 Osgood. Here we see an interior view of the Lawrence Congregation –
And here as well
Below we see some of Ansha Sholum’s beautiful furnishings in their new home for the next few years at Congregation Ahavat Shalom. As Ahavat Shalom continues to grow the plan is to eventually move to a larger building, where they will install the larger ark, the Aron Kodesh, ארון קודש, from Lawrence.
The very definition of Ahavat Olam is Everlasting Love, but also a prayer that acknowledges God’s timeless love toward Israel and all people. Ahavat Olam is a phrase that calls us to action, to love all humankind, and this fully captures the vision, practice, and essence of Congregation Ahavat Olam. Our name, Congregation Ahavat Olam, is not just a name, it is our philosophy.
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